By Shea Ki
This isn't a normal time in any way.
With the covid-19 pandemic moving through the world, everything seems to have changed in such a short amount of time.
Quarantine. Social distancing. Lockdown. All of these terms have suddenly become top of mind.
Families are juggling everything from school to work to ALL THE THINGS in between under one roof.
Graduates are not getting to fully enjoy their milestone moment.
Millions are applying for unemployment insurance who never expected to.
People who recently started a business or who were about to move fully into self-employment have had to pivot.
Fortunately, there is some progress and signs of moving forward. Many companies are revamping their HR processes, making virtual interviews more common, and offering teleworking like never before.
When you find yourself in the hot seat at your next interview, what will your career story about this time during the covid-19 pandemic be?
You will likely be asked by others, including possible clients, recruiters and hiring managers this question:
"What did you do during the covid-19 lockdown time?" ....or something along those lines.
There are several steps you can take now to stand out in a positive way when you respond to interview questions about this challenging and unprecedented time.
1. Capture your journey in a private way that matters to you.
It could be next month or not until next year from now that you need to answer an interview question about your time during the global pandemic. Keeping a journal, pictures in a folder on your phone specific to this time, or a private video log will provide a return on your investment of your time.
This authentic evidence will help inspire more genuine, engaging answers at interviews.
It is not too late to start capturing this information for yourself. Yes, thankfully some businesses are re-opening up and there is even talk of schools perhaps meeting in person in some places. However, there could still be a long way to go until things are feeling safer again and businesses are back to any sense of full "normal" operations.
Since everything may feel more intense right now, you might think you will remember it all. However, keeping a journal, pictures, video or other way you document your journey at this time will help ensure it.
2. Reflect on loses, gains, and other lessons learned.
What does the future opportunity you want to be in or audience that will be listening to you value? Allow yourself time to record where you are sacrificing, growing, or dealing with difficulty. Notice where there is alignment with what is important to you and what those interviewing you may consider a top priority.
Here are a few examples:
No more open gyms, but you created an outdoor obstacle course or participate in virtual group work-outs? You are demonstrating creativity and dedication to well-being.
Not able to go to the library or bookstore, but you invested in getting a tablet or using another device to read more books? You are showing a passion for life-long learning and self-development.
Perhaps you are taking the time to strengthen professional skills with an online class or certification? Or completely re-designing your work space, closet, and other rooms at home for better organization? Maybe you are discovering how to present meetings and network with others better online? These actions are worth keeping track of and could be something to share next time you are in the hot seat.
But for some, I know you are experiencing a much heavier burden during this scary pandemic and none of the above are happening.
Several of my friends are serving on the front lines in health care, the National Guard, or in other ways. Others have lost loved ones. Some to covid-19, but some to causes outside of it. Relatives and neighbors have been laid off or are highly concerned a change in their job or income may happen in the next few months. I also know several clients and colleagues who are taking this time to take extra vigilant care of their mental health.
Not everyone has energy or resources right now for sharpening skills or executing a personal project during this global crisis. I still encourage you to record your journey in some way. Later on there will be ways to practice and share your sensitive, valuable stories while still keeping the details at a professional level.
3. Be ready to talk about how you are relieving your stress.
Employers, recruiters, hiring managers, and new clients will likely ask about how you found ways to release the anxiety, pressures, and challenges that the covid-19 pandemic has brought.
It helps to provide examples that give them a glimpse of what is important to you. A subject like this is an opportunity to help the interviewers see that working with you is a sound investment.
For me, next time I am in the hot seat, I might share that on the tougher days I am grateful to have found stress relief in doing yoga, especially the nurturing tutorials by Yoga With Adriene. It is hard to smile some days, but caring, hilarious content from the Holderness Family is helping to keep things lighter during this time.
Depending on the audience, I might also offer that learning new things about building a business, practicing meditation, doing Reiki, and cooking better meals help me greatly. Other days, these activities don't bring the relief or well-being that I seek, so I am grateful to reach out to good friends or I give myself more alone time. This time of quarantines and lockdowns is reminding me how much my family matters to me and how important it is each day to do work that helps others.
Being asked questions about how we handled our stress during this global crisis might trigger our emotions more than we expect. This is more likely if we have had a painful recent experience. Before the real deal, be sure to practice and ask for constructive feedback from a trusted mentor, professional colleague, or interview coach.
If you or a friend are struggling to find what works for you to ease stress during the covid-19 epidemic, please make time to explore resources, including these:
NAMI Covid-19 Resource Guide
Coping With Stress: Resources of CDC
Mental Health America
Your turn: What else do you anticipate may be different in interviews now and in the future? Share in the comments. Your voice here in the Upgrade My Interview™ community adds to the spark that helps others shine in the hot seat.
Most of all, believe in yourself.
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