How to answer: What did you do during lockdown?

As companies start hiring again, employers have started asking the question: ‘What did you do during the lockdown?’

Don’t worry if you feel slightly panicked because you didn’t think you did anything worth mentioning. In fact, you probably did more than you think.

By asking this question, the interviewer is testing your self-awareness, your ability to reflect and pick out the positives during a trying time.

Lockdown career image

Employers want to know what you did or learnt was meaningful or impactful, whether big or small, to get some perspective on your adaptability and resilience.

There’s no doubt that the last couple of months have been challenging; although experiences differ from person to person, we’ve all had to deal with change and uncertainty to some degree.

So, as part of your interview preparation, take time to reflect on what you have done during the lockdown.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

Did you gain any valuable work experience?
Make sure to highlight any work or volunteer experience you gained during this time, even if it was in a different role or industry than the job you’re applying for. For example, you may have volunteered to help vulnerable people in your community with shopping and delivering medicine. Emphasise the transferable skills you gained that are valuable to your potential new roles, such as taking the initiative, teamwork or communication. If you already had a job when lockdown started, you can also talk about the changes you went through and how you successfully adapted or supported your teammates through these changes.

Did you start a new project?
From online courses to new hobbies, if you could start something new, that’s worth celebrating. You could talk about how you taught yourself to edit videos, for example, or how taking up knitting has helped you manage stress. Whatever it is, explain why you did it and the personal or professional benefits that resulted from it.

Did you learn anything about yourself?
If your gut reaction is that you did nothing during the lockdown, try to think about what you’ve learned about yourself instead of the actions that you took. For example, you may have known how to take care of your mental health better or the importance of staying in touch with friends and colleagues. Emphasise how this has positively influenced your behaviours since.

If you spent lockdown shielding, ill, or caring for others, it is absolutely okay to say this. If you feel comfortable disclosing this information, you can talk about how you took on responsibility for others or learned how resilient you are.

It is also acceptable to say that you followed government guidelines and focused on your health during this time.

Adaptability, resilience and positivity are skills that are now more important than ever, and by asking this question, the interviewer is hoping to get evidence that you possess them.

So, before the interview, take the time to look back and pick out some key points that you are comfortable sharing and if it’s relevant to the job at hand, even better.

Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers

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