Office job interview tips are a hot topic right now. What would have been the 10 most common office interview questions months ago, are very different to what the 10 most common office interview questions are right now.
With 60% of the UK’s population working from home during the Coronavirus lockdown and 26% continuing to do so either permanently or occasionally afterwards, the future of office work is for now, remote and hybrid.2
While our previous interview tips, including the ‘how to succeed in an interview’ post and ‘what not to say in an interview’ post are still relevant today with our remote and hybrid working practices, there is now a whole new set of work related questions that your prospective employer needs to ask and that you need to be prepared to answer. From do you have a reliable wi-fi connection and what is your solution for losing connection and do you have an uninterrupted home working environment, through to how do you organise your working day.
We discussed interview tips such as how to prepare for an office interview both for in-person and video interviews in this recent post but this time the focus is on the interview questions themselves. Your CV will have provided some insight into your experience and your skills already and so ensuring that you have what it takes to work unsupervised, will take precedence in the interviews of both temporary office jobs and permanent office jobs for the foreseeable future.
Interviewing for a remote position via a video link or even a socially distant in-person interview is a little unusual for most of us. There is no escaping the fact that we are working through some unprecedented times and that none of this has become ‘normal’ yet. Where you live, who you live with and even if you have a pack of dogs barking in the background during your video interview, none of it matters. All that your prospective employer wants to know is that you can do the job in question, so you will be forgiven for interruptions or for being nervous and unsure as your interview begins, just relax and focus on answering the questions as best you can.
How to answer the 10 most common office interview questions
Any interviews taking place now are likely to focus primarily on your remote working abilities and your homeworking environment, with a few career development questions thrown in for good measure.
1. How did you spend your time during the pandemic lockdown period?
How you answer this question will show either how self-motivated and driven you can be, or it will reveal what is important to you. There is no right or wrong answer providing you are honest. Maybe you spent your time learning new skills, working or organising a homeworking environment, or perhaps you spent time reconnecting with family, practising how to achieve and maintain work-life balance.
2. How have you kept your skills sharp and your industry knowledge up to date throughout lockdown?
Staying in touch with current events, emerging stories, trending topics on social media, as well as the continuous use of technology for research, work and home interests are all good answers for a question like this.
3. Do you have any experience with remote or hybrid working?
Even if you have not worked in an official remote working or hybrid working environment before, there must be an instance that you can recall needing to get things done at home such as when you were studying for exams or teaching yourself something new? Anything you can draw upon to show that you can focus your energy even when you are working at home will be beneficial here.
4. When you are remote working, how will you manage your time and organise your day?
Working remotely takes self-discipline. When you are free to manage your own work load you need to be accountable for your time and the completion of your tasks, without the oversight of a line manager or colleague.
If you are applying for work from home positions it is a good idea to research organisation techniques and systems so you can answer this question with some authority.
5. How do you see yourself communicating with your manager and colleagues in a remote environment?
This is a chance for you to show not only that you understand the need for accountability but also the importance of collaboration and reporting. Be prepared with a few software based suggestions but demonstrate that you are open to adapting to existing systems and procedures.
6. How do you balance your home and working time to ensure you are working responsibly and maintaining healthy working practices?
A question like this should reassure you that this is an employer who has your best interests in mind. Show that you have a thorough understanding of the need to take breaks, schedule time slots for work and move around frequently to maintain good mental and physical wellness.
7. What tools do you feel we may need to provide to ensure you can work from home effectively?
This is a good opportunity to run through the homeworking set up you have in place. Let the interviewer know that you have a dedicated working space, a reliable internet connection, a laptop or computer and access to a headset and microphone. If you are in need of specialist equipment such as a tablet, a privacy screen or a work phone line to work in this specific role effectively, do not be afraid to say so.
8. Will you be willing to work in an office again when/if remote working is no longer required?
There is no hard and fast way to answer a question like this except, honestly. Be sure to let the prospective employer know what you are and are not comfortable with.
9. How would you like your career to progress over the next 3 years?
This is your chance to state how important things such as promotion, skills development and training are to you. Would you like to manage a team or perhaps cross train on another department? Your prospective employer will be taking notes and it is likely what you say here will map out the initial opportunities that come your way.
10. Do you have any questions?
A resounding yes should be your answer here, there is much to know and understand, especially in remote working or hybrid working practices. Here are some examples:
- How has the pandemic impacted the company and the team?
- How many colleagues will be in my team and are they all remote working?
- Do you have an action plan in place for the next six months of working practices?
- How will I access training information and modules for my role?
- What are the reporting procedures and expectations?
Bonus interview tips
1. When you are answering interview questions for office careers in particular it is important that you try to demonstrate not only your industry knowledge and experience, but also your awareness of the current and evolving industry landscape. You can do this by making reference to trending topics, key articles or studies relevant to your field.
2. While working from home may seem an attractive proposition, drawbacks have been identified that could impact wellbeing and eventually, productivity. In a recent study by Finder.com.1
- 30.9% of remote workers say that they struggle with loneliness when working remotely.
- 22% of telecommuters say that “switching off” after work is their biggest challenge.
- 62% of remote workers want employers to provide better technology that helps them stay connected with their colleagues.
To combat uncertainty, you should ask a lot of questions. There is no rule to say you can only ask one or two, so use the interview time to build a clearer idea of how the company works and how you will work with colleagues and different departments and teams.
Ask questions about training, daily tasks and communication methods, who you would report to or who you can ask for help when you need it.
Other interview advice blogs from Blue Arrow
- How to succeed in an interview
- The key to being confident in an interview
- Nailing a telephone interview
- What not to say in an interview
1 Finder.Com [Internet] September 2020 Chris Lilley https://www.finder.com/uk/working-from-home-statistics
2 Office for National Statistics [Internet] April 2020 https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/coronavirusandhomeworkingintheuk/april2020