The questions you should be asking an employer now have changed from those you might have asked just a few months ago. Questions about working from home, re-opening plans, and employee health and safety protocols are now most important.
Employers should be able to answer all of these questions clearly and without hesitation. If they show a reluctance to answer or struggle to provide full details, those are two major red flags. On the other hand, openness in answering and providing in-depth answers are particularly good signs.
To get a feel for how a company is handling things during COVID, these are the four questions you need to ask in a job interview.
What does the onboarding process look like?
It’s helpful to know what to expect when starting a job remotely. You want to be sure that the company provides a solid onboarding process so you’re fully trained and able to do your job from day one.
Key things to listen for are how training will be provided, if you’ll be partnered up with another employee to help guide you through day to day work, and how you’ll meet your manager and coworkers. Most training will be done via e-learning on an employee portal, but there should also be one-on-one time scheduled with your manager for expectation setting and rapport building. A plan for how you’ll be meeting and working with a team should also be mentioned. If it’s not, that’s another question you should ask.
What tech or tools would I need to successfully do my job?
Pre-COVID, you could assume that all of the necessary tech and tools you’d need would be waiting for you at your new desk in the office. With remote work, it could be up to you to get these necessities.
Some companies will provide employees with the tools they’ll need to work from home. They might send a company laptop or phone, an external monitor, or professional quality headphones, or provide you with a stipend to furnish your workspace. Other companies might not provide anything at all. This is worth knowing before you start the job – you don’t want to end up with any surprise expenses.
What is your re-opening plan?
You want to find out if the position will be remote indefinitely or if a return to the office is the priority. With the current state of uncertainty it’s likely that there won’t be a concrete plan in place, but you can get a feel for if the company is itching to return to office work ASAP or if they’re open to continuing remote work long term.
You also want to be sure that the company has policies in place for prioritizing employee health and safety and that they’ll be following and enforcing CDC and local regulations when they do re-open. Keep in mind that your version of safe to return may not be the same as the company’s, so it’s incredibly important for you to get a feel of where they’re at so you can make an informed decision.
What health and safety protocols do you have in place?
If you’ll be expected to work in a physical location rather than remotely, you absolutely must ask this question. You need to know that the company is not only taking proper safety precautions, but that they’re actively enforcing them as well.
Listen carefully to the hiring manager’s answers. Do they speak with conviction when describing safety measures or is there a hint of ‘we say this but we don’t do this’? Use your intuition, listen carefully, and follow your gut – this issue is too important to take any chances.