Talking about Covid in the Hiring Process

Coronavirus, Mask, Virus, Health, Epidemic, Quarantine
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Interviewing and hiring in the pandemic requires setting expectations from the beginning. Setting expectations starts in the interview process, it does not wait for onboarding and training. As a hiring manager/supervisor, you are setting your team up for success by covering specific company and job-specific safety expectations in your interview questions. 

If you know the candidate personally or they have worked at your company in the past: Do not assume any candidates are “bought-in” to your COVID safety protocols. It’s important that before offering a job to anyone you engage in COVID-specific questions and a frank conversation about what will be expected of them while COVID restrictions and safety protocols are in place. 

Below are some sample interview questions:

  • Tell me about the safety protocols in your last job, did they have COVID protocols, and what were they? 
  • Tell me about a time you saw something concerning/unethical at work and how did you respond? (you’re looking here for their ability to be an up-stander and contribute to your safety culture).
  • Do you have any apprehensions about COVID safety? What are some concerns you have?
  • Our Employees will have to wear a mask ( insert job-specific times/places ) during their shift, and at any time distance cannot be maintained. Is this something you can commit to?
  • You see a guest enter the dining area without a mask and you ask them to please put one on. They tell you they are vaccinated and don’t want to wear them, what do you do?  
  • Have you ever asked a stranger to put their mask on in a public space?

Conversation Starters: 

  • The COVID situation is ever-changing and we will be asking our team to make adjustments frequently. For example, Hood River County could go back into extreme risk and we may have to adjust to outdoor dining or restricted dining. Here’s what that could look like for your position. 
  • Let me share/show you some details from COVID safety protocols so you can get an idea of how tasks will be performed. You are welcome to ask questions about how we came to this or the reasoning behind it.

Questions that are DISCRIMINATORY to ask – Do not ask these questions 

  • Have you tested positive for COVID?Are you Vaccinated?
  • Are you at high risk for COVID?Do you live with anyone who has tested positive for COVID? 
  • Do you have a spouse / family member who has tested positive for COVID? 
  • Did you participate in any BLM protests?
  • Did you participate in any MAGA rallies?
  • Do you plan on participating in any protests or political rallies? 
  • How will you manage home schooling with your kids and still meet work obligations? 
  • Who did you vote for in November?

Questions/topics that candidates may bring up in the interview process, and how to handle them

Question from CandidateResponse
I have a medical condition and I cannot wear a mask because of it.We do have a mask requirement that is both company policy and State mandated. The accommodation of working remotely or in an isolated area not around other people without a mask is / is not possible for this position. 
How can I be sure you all take this COVID stuff seriously? I’m anxious about getting sick. I can’t get vaccinated because of a pre-existing health condition. Before you go into conversations with candidates, make yourself an expert on your COVID protocols. This way you can speak to the procedures and protocols that your department will have in place to protect guests and employees. 
Are all employees Vaccinated? Will you make me get a vaccine? If you don’t require vaccination: We have encouraged our employees to get vaccinated, however, we do not mandate it to respect personal choice and privacy. We continue to follow state and OSHA guidelines for distancing and mask wearing to ensure everyone can work safely. 
If you do require vaccination: Our company policy is for all employees to be vaccinated. If you require an accommodation we can discuss the proper avenue for applying for that accommodation.
I think COVID is a hoax and don’t want to wear a maskAs a business, we must follow OSHA and state rules for mask wearing and social distancing while at work, regardless of your personal beliefs. Can you commit to wearing a mask at work and following our safety guidelines? Bringing on employees who won’t comply with our safety precautions is a deal-breaker for us. 

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