Navigating the new world: Recruiting and on-boarding new staff during lockdown

Business never stands still – not even in a pandemic. Throughout the Coronavirus lockdown, companies have had to find new ways to navigate the hiring and onboarding process without face-to-face interaction.

For both businesses and job applicants, it has often been a new experience and presented several challenges to do with technology and logistics.

The lockdown has turned remote hiring into a necessity. Even as businesses attempt to return to pre-pandemic normality, many are continuing to follow this practice for the foreseeable future. This is often to do with safety concerns, but in many cases companies have seen its benefits – businesses don’t need to limit themselves to the local area, candidates are available throughout the day rather than the usual before and after work slots, and often the process requires less of a time commitment.  

How has business recruitment adapted during the pandemic?

Melanie Astbury, HR manager at Cartridge Save says, “We were able to quickly adapt to virtual hiring. It can be strange at the beginning to not see someone in person and shake their hand, but it soon becomes normal. What this situation has enabled us to do is widen our search and hire the right talent – even if they’re located in a different city.’”

Simon Roderik, managing director of Fram Search, has also seen the benefits of virtual hiring: “In some ways, it’s made it easier for us. Both our clients and us are finding video interviews more time efficient as people are more available, and you get a good feel for a candidate – the quality of conversations has been great! Roles requiring niche skills will be easier to fill and we’re excited about the talent possibilities and the positive impact on diversity.”

Regardless of whether recruiting is in person or through video conferencing technology, businesses need a robust recruiting procedure which ensures the best person for the job has the opportunity to prove themselves and get the position. 

However, even if the company has made a great hire, there still needs to be a carefully planned on-boarding procedure that ensures new recruits understand the job requirements, as well as the business culture and expected behaviours.

A guide to recruiting and interviewing during a pandemic 

For Businesses

Screening CVs

The process of sifting through CVs or application forms hasn’t changed. Employers will still need to take the time to evaluate each candidate for the position, and decide whether to progress their application to the interview stage. However, the number of applicants has certainly changed. 

Current levels of employment have meant that as many as 50 people chase every one job in coronavirus stricken areas of the UK. By comparison, there were four and a half claimants per vacancy in April, and just over eight in May.

Unfortunately for businesses, this means more time sifting through a higher number of applicants, which can be a time drain on resources. So it’s vital that you:

  • Establish a robust system to check the applications against the selection criteria
  • Introduce a point-based system – giving applicants a point for matching skills that are outlined in the job spec  

A guide to onboarding and starting a new job during a pandemic 


Onboarding new staff remotely is one of the toughest challenges businesses face. Recruitment takes time and once you’ve found the ideal candidate, you want to ensure they have all the tools needed to succeed in their new role. 

Melanie Astbury, HR Manager at Cartridge Save said “My initial concern was around how training would translate into video conferencing. Sharing screens means you don’t always have eye contact with the person and, as such, it’s harder to tell if they’ve properly understood what you’ve told them. It’s important you follow up training with a task which can test what they’ve learned. Despite some reservations, in nearly every case the person has understood and been able to carry out the job at hand.”

Remote onboarding needs to be carefully planned out and implemented. Once you’ve conducted initial training online, it’s important that you: 

  • Arrange daily meetings to set agendas and expectations 
  • Regularly review work – this can be done via screen sharing or call listening to ensure they’re completing tasks correctly
  • Set tasks – this will enable you to understand how your new starter is adapting and will also highlight areas to improve on with additional training
  • Create a safe space for feedback – it’s hard to build rapport from a distance, but if you encourage your new starters to ask for advice, help and guidance from the start, you’ll be able resolve issues before they become problems

There will come a time when you will want to introduce your new starters to their actual workspace, or even conduct part of their induction in-house. 

It’s important to remember that for some people, entering a new environment at this time could cause anxiety, so it makes sense to provide clear guidelines on how you’re keeping staff and workspaces safe during the pandemic. 

Author: Editorial Team

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