Recruiting and Onboarding in a remote world

The shift to remote working is not only changing how people work day to day, it is also changing how new employees are recruited and hired. The HR department has most certainly been on a learning journey this year, weaving our way through the uncertainty and learning to adjust the way in which we have previously done things.


Recruitment was always going to be a challenge during a global pandemic and one of the major changes we had to make at CNG was to hold all interviews via Microsoft Teams; which, of course, had both its benefits and its drawbacks!

On the positive side, it has helped us to expand our candidate pool, allowing those who had previously struggled with getting time off work or finding childcare to be able to take part in the interview. It has also allowed CNG to accelerate the process, allowing for more interviews within a given time frame, which proved especially beneficial when having multiple candidates for one position.

Needless to say, the swift transition to a remote hiring routine isn’t always easy. The technology is more often than not the reason things tend to go somewhat pear-shaped. We have dealt with an abundance of dodgy internet lines and candidates struggling to work their way around MS Teams. It also means we don’t get the pleasure of meeting our potential new employees face-to-face to enjoy deeper interactions with them before they are hired.

Even though we are unable to meet face-to-face it is paramount that we ensure the candidate experience is still a really great one. Interview processes can all too often feel artificial and strange, so ensuring we retain our personable approach has been really important.


It’s a dream situation for us HR professionals: we have found the perfect candidate, they have successfully navigated their way through multiple rounds of virtual interviews, internet issues, home distractions and everyone agrees they are a great match for the role. They’ve accepted your offer and now it’s time to get them on board. There’s just one (not so) tiny hiccup… historically at CNG, our normal onboarding processes have depended on face-to-face interactions, which is sadly, simply not attainable in the current environment of social distancing and stay-at-home advice.

This is where we have really relied on modern day technology, as it has enabled us to plan and adapt our existing methods to make sure that we are still offering our new starters the best possible onboarding experience.

Office Induction meets Virtual Welcome

Our usual onboarding always includes a Meet HR, where all important forms and contracts are signed and benefits are explained, Meet the teams which gives new employees a chance to meet their colleagues and what we call the Big Induction.

The Big Induction, is a programme full of insightful workshops delivered by our leaders and colleagues across all teams at CNG. Our belief is that our people will thrive in their roles if they understand the bigger picture. For us, this means introducing our newest people, no matter what their role, to key contacts across the business and giving them an understanding of how everything fits together and what each team aims to achieve.

Our classroom induction has been a staple for the last 7 years and whilst there have been many, many changes (we must be on Version 50.0 now) the goals remain largely unchanged. We want our newest team members to gain a deeper understanding of culture, interact with our values, get introduced to our strategy and mission and (crucially) make new connections.  We believe the welcome and successful onboarding of new team members doesn’t just lie with HR or Line Managers, it’s something for the whole team to contribute to. Let’s face it, we have all been a new starter and remember those who supported us when we felt just a little lost.

Since Lockdown, we embraced the challenge of moving the induction online and made some changes to the programme to ensure it could be delivered successfully. This meant reducing session times and the number of workshops, as a 1 hour workshop in a classroom is much more engaging than a one hour virtual session. We introduced our new starters to a number of our Senior Leadership team and some strategic topics at a higher level. We see this as laying a foundation for our newest members and from this point we encourage them all to ask more questions and seek more learning.

Our post Virtual Welcome survey saw some really positive comments. It really showed us that a little effort goes a long way, and we plan to keep improving the programme for future joiners.

Although this has been a testing time and we do miss our ‘normal’ way of doing things, recruiting and onboarding in this way has made us think outside the box, focus on improvements and candidate experience even more and has resulted in some lasting changes that we will take forward in to the future. We may technically be working from a distance, but it doesn’t always need to feel that way.