3 ways to answer this year's toughest job interview question

April 14, 2021

With the Virtual Summer Career Fair around the corner, you may want to prepare yourself for the big questions employers will be asking. MacEwan University's Careers and Experience team already pointed out that employers in 2021 will be asking what you did in 2020. Now the new question you can expect to hear is "How did you spend your COVID summer?"

"Learning and working in the midst of a pandemic has affected everyone, which is why it is important to reflect upon and prepare for pandemic-related questions an employer may ask you at a virtual job fair or in an interview," says Carolyn Kent, MacEwan career development specialist. "Employers have altered common questions to gain insight into a candidate’s response to uncertainty and their ability to manage stress during a crisis."

Those questions, for example, may include:

  • How did you demonstrate your resilience and adaptability in a rapidly changing environment?

  • How did you make new connections and expand your network?

  • How did you explore a new interest or passion?

  • How did you learn something new or gain a new skill through online webinars or workshops?

  • In what ways did you try to create balance in your life to stay healthy?

  • In what ways did you apply technology skills so you could effectively learn and stay in contact with others?

  • What other roles did you take on during the pandemic?

If you don't have a good answer for any of those, summer 2021 is your moment to gain new experiences and build your skills — both of which will help flesh out your resume.

Careers and Experience have three ways you can take advantage of the Virtual Summer Career Fair on April 28 to find opportunities. (And be sure to check in with Careers and Experience throughout the year for more events, advice and opportunities to strengthen your marketability.)

Find a job

Okay, easier said than done! But that's exactly what the summer career fair (and MacEwan's other career fairs) is all about. First things first, prepare your resume by thinking about those questions above.

"Look for evidence of how you have been proactive and maintained a learning mindset, and how you demonstrated resilience, motivation, adaptability and a hopeful attitude," recommends Kent. "Consider the enormous energy and time dedicated to learning, growing and staying balanced during the pandemic and how you persevered. Everyone will have coped differently so it is important to focus on your unique strengths and value."

Remember, an interview goes both ways: "Just as employers have altered their questions, students can also ask insightful questions."

And the Virtual Summer Career Fair Prep Days can help you prepare for the big event with resume and cover letter webinars and opportunities to practice your elevator pitch (a quick summary about who you are and your career goals), freshen up or start your LinkedIn profile and more.


Did you know that approximately 80 per cent of employers are more likely to hire you if you have volunteer experience?

The benefits of volunteering go beyond checking a box on your resume. In addition to feeling good about giving back to your community, supporting a cause you care about and helping others in need, you can also develop skills that are transferable to your desired career.

Kent recommends students talk to MacEwan's Leadership and Engagement team for information about co-curricular (non-academic experiences outside of the classroom) experiential learning opportunities on campus or in your community.

"Volunteering can change and shape our career in unexpected ways," says Kent. "It broadens our thinking and opens our mind to possibilities, and it puts us on a career path where we are more likely to see and learn about options that might otherwise have been missed."

Build your experience

One of the booths open to you at the virtual fair will provide information about LevelUp, which provides students with real-world, career-related experiences, helping them develop technical expertise and professional skills required to be successful in career searches.

By completing these projects, students connect with local businesses, university faculty and staff, non-profit organizations, government, large corporations and more. Students can build leadership skills and earn a $1,400 stipend for completing LevelUp projects. Ask about mentoring groups of first-year students.

So even if your resume can't answer those big questions yet, register to attend the Virtual Summer Career Fair and spend the next few months building your own smart answers to employers' questions.


Get ready: Employers will be asking this question in 2021

"What did you do in 2020?" may top the list, ventures MacEwan career development experts. 

Get MacEwan University news delivered to your inbox.
Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter