Career Genius: Your April Guide to Slaying It at Work
The not-so-legal questions coming to your next job interview
Invasive questions are on the rise during Zoom job interviews, like, “Who do you live with?”
“It’s an illegal question, and you’d better answer it,” says Robin Ryan, a Seattle career coach and author of “60 Seconds & You’re Hired!” “Employers are asking questions now that they never asked before,” she says. “They are really concerned about the lives and availability of the new people they’re hiring. That doesn’t make it legal.”
How to respond? Do not point out that your interviewer is on the wrong side of the law. This will not help your job prospects. Instead, have answers on the tip of your tongue for:
- What’s your home life like? How many people live there? How old are they?
- Do you have children? What’s your childcare arrangement? What happens if your kids get sick or need to quarantine?
- Do you have a spouse? Does your spouse work? Where?
- Do you live alone? How are you handling the isolation?
- Where are you right now? Where will you be working from? Why?
- Are you vaccinated? Are your housemates/family vaccinated?
- How’s your mental health?
Your replies should succinctly answer the questions without delving into details, and above all, give the appearance that you are calm and in control. Come up with one-sentence answers that communicate that you’ve got your bases covered: We have a nanny. My friends have been my lifeline. I’ve joined a Buddhist meditation group, and am excited about running a half-marathon in the fall. The employer doesn’t need to know that you haven’t seen your besties in months, nor that your nanny is your mom.
You can expect not just extra questions but additional interviews. “Before, you could expect one to two interviews; now you can expect four or five,” Ryan says. “It’s a very thorough process — they’re looking at values, personality and culture fit. A year ago they’d take you to lunch and read your body language. Now they’re looking at your face and shoulders online, and it’s much harder to read the person and get a feel for what she’s like.” Buckle up.
Maybe avoid job searching in these states this decade
The job markets worst hit by post-pandemic blues will likely be found in Nevada, Florida, South Carolina, Montana, Hawaii and Wyoming, where job seekers will face up to 10 more years of employment market disruption, according to a new analysis from the Brookings Institute. Much of the pain will come from depressed leisure, entertainment and retail economies. Though the pandemic will depress job growth 1% to 4% nationwide, states with science- and tech-dependent economies like New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts are expected to be less affected long-term.
Watch out, low-wage workers. The writing on the wall is not good. A new Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicates that while epidemiologists, medical scientists and biochemists will ride out the decade just fine, low-wage workers are facing peril: a nearly 25% drop in restaurant, lounge and coffee shop jobs through 2030, a 19% dip in bartending work, and a 16% drop in hotel/motel/resort, waitstaff and reservations gigs.
A new McKinsey forecast echoes the concern: 100 million low-wage jobs may disappear by 2030, mostly due to pandemic-induced restructuring and automation. Don’t wait until the ax falls. While classes remain online, right now is a great time to plot your new career in a hot field like web development, nursing or the trades.
Ah-ha! How to beat the work-from-home blues: It may seem like you’re sad due to isolation, but don’t be deceived. “It’s not just the lack of social stimulation, but a lack of sense of meaning and being part of something outside yourself,” says Denise Rousseau, a professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University. “The most unhappy people in the world are people who think about themselves all the time.” Even introverts are struggling for this reason. The solution is not — god forbid — a return to the office, but rather engaging in activities for and with others. “That gives you a sense of purpose, and you get relatedness, growth and interactions. When you add value to somebody else’s life, you actually add value to your own.”
How to deal with it: negative feedback
“I used to say, ‘It’s not personal, it’s just business, so lose the emotion’ — but I have evolved,” says Rue Dooley, the HR knowledge advisor for the 300,000-plus member Society for Human Resource Management. “We are emotional creatures, and negative feedback hurts. I think ignoring the emotion exacerbates the pain. If you’re hurt, just be hurt.”
So feel all the feels. Privately. Not with your boss or coworkers. Allow your emotions to do their job and protect you while energizing you into reparative action. “Let that hurt serve as fuel for, ‘Hey, I don’t want to suffer this hurt again next year, so I’m going to talk to my supervisor and develop a strategy.’” And it’s wise to always be looking for the next job.