The recruiting and onboarding process has changed a lot due to COVID-19


In every issue of PeopleTalk magazine, we ask CPHR BC & Yukon members from all across B.C. and the Yukon a question and get them to give us a brief answer. 

Today’s question: What advice do you have for companies still trying to figure out how to recruit and onboard in a world with remote work and social distancing?

Here are four insights on how recruiting and onboarding during COVID-19. 


Ruth Eden, CPHR

Victoria, B.C.
Engagement Associate
Engaged HR

Your hiring panel needs to be crystal clear on the ideal candidate for the role. In video interviews, managers tend to focus more on the quantifiable aspects of a candidate’s experience and video seems to lessen the emphasis on the intangible “gut feeling” or connection we previously had with people in person. A candidate’s charisma or, alternatively, a quiet and reserved vibe is not as easily picked up on over video. Clearly identifying the necessary skills and experience for the role will streamline virtual interviews.

Onboarding remotely needs to be well planned because new employees can’t easily observe the culture in the workplace. You need to be specific in showing them how, where and when people are connecting online. Give them permission to have casual conversations to build relationships because integration with the team can’t happen organically around the water cooler. Intentionally creating space for them to build community will help them connect and feel part of the larger purpose.


Nelson Ugonna Onwuliri, CPHR

Prince George, B.C.
Human Resources Manager
Tsay Keh Dene Nation

If you are one of the organizations trying to hire in the midst of the pandemic, you are likely going about it in a different way. From where you’re looking for talent to the interview and onboarding process, the pandemic has really impacted recruiting in a myriad of ways and social distancing is also impacting recruiting in different ways.

The first change is how organizations are sourcing for candidates. Due to social distancing, many organizations are pulling back on national or global advertising, limiting their geographic search for talents. My advice is that organizations should look locally first, focusing on their city rather than flying someone in and if they can’t find someone, they can slowly widen the search. Social distancing may be positive for internal candidates, many of whom are getting a closer look. The responsible thing to do is to put a freeze on external hiring. Additionally, the interview process is also changing, going from in-person to video platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Teams etc. Face-to-face interviews don’t exist anymore, and most individuals are good with video interviews.

Furthermore, once a candidate is hired, the onboarding process is becoming virtual too, and the biggest change is the new management style it requires. Onboarding is about bonding and managing emotions day-to-day, and when you’re dealing with working remotely, it creates a challenge. Onboarding is quite personal; how do you help someone new to the company feel immersed with the business and a part of it. Some organizations are using VR technology to give candidates a tour of the facilities, and regular videoconferencing is important. Helping someone feel part of a team comes down to clear information, clear directives and strong leadership.


Anna Samoylik, CPHR

Coquitlam, B.C.
HR Manager
Providence Grain Solutions

Honestly, COVID-19 hasn’t impacted how we recruit, interview and train all that much and I hope that those HR professionals who struggle with a remote reality will soon figure out that it is not as complicated as one may think.

How we recruit and interview has been minimally impacted by COVID-19 because I have been interviewing candidates remotely for the last two years — our grain elevators are spread all across Canada so meeting in person usually isn’t an option.

As for the onboarding process, our operations managers for each grain elevator are trained to onboard new employees. Office employees use a program called GoToMeeting for online training purposes. Through that program, they can share their computer screen, mentor a fellow staff member and run a training session — it’s almost like meeting with a person who is right beside you. In addition to that, employees use masks when they are closer than six feet from each other.


Surinder Kaila, CPHR Candidate 

Surrey, B.C.
Senior Recruiter
Burke Recruiting

COVID-19 has changed the way we recruit in a few ways. Most of our interviews are now conducted via video. It is important that the online interviews are done professionally, with business dress, proper lighting, quiet surroundings and maintaining the same culture as it was in the office.

Most of Burke Recruiting’s clients are doing their first-round meetings via video, and the second rounds are being done in the office, while adhering to the COVID-19 regulations with social distancing and the safety protocols as per public health regulations.

Once the candidate is hired, the onboarding process varies, but in some cases they are onboarding the new employee remotely. Some clients are having the first few days of training in the office and then setting up the new employee at home. It does vary from company to company, but for the most part we are seeing the employee work from home at least part of the week.



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