Job hunting: How to avoid toxic workplaces during COVID-19 – CTV News

TORONTO — Many people have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a great deal of stress and frustration among those unemployed and seeking work.

In addition, the way companies hire people has changed as a result of their adopting new health and safety measures. Many interviews are now conducted by webcam, which can take away that personal touch.

Job-seekers who want stability and security in a functioning work environment must therefore find new ways to determine if a company is right for them.

“In a dysfunctional workplace, both the employees and the business aren’t able to reach their full potential,” Melanie Pound, CFO of Bane Capital and author of Detox: Managing Insecurity in the Workplace, told CTV News Channel on Sunday. “There might be bullying and micromanaging behaviour within those environments, or it can even just be that there’s really low transparency in these environments, so people aren’t sure what’s expected of them, or sometimes even what the strategy is as a business.”

Even in a video chat, though, there are ways to detect red flags, according to Pound.


It’s typical for interviewers to ask applicants about their values and how they might fit in with the company. They may also ask what type of corporate culture you want to be working in.

See if your values align with the company’s values.

“If they’re really valuing having a high-functioning environment, they want to make sure that you’re a good fit from a cultural perspective,” Pound said.


Pay attention to how you’re treated throughout the job application process, Pound said. How you’re treated as an applicant may reflect how you would be treated as an employee.

“If they say they’re going to get back to you on a certain day and they don’t and it takes a week and you’re left sort of waiting, that’s a sign that they may be poor communicators and not respecting your time,” she said.


Being respectful to the person in front of you is one thing, but an interviewer speaking poorly of their peers is another red flag.

“Pay attention to how your interviewers talk about their peers,” Pound said. “If they’re talking negatively about their peers or about the company, that’s really not a good sign that it’s a functional workplace.”


One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to do is change the way they communicate at every level. Given the number of people who have been working remotely, Pound said, one positive outcome is that employers have become more cognizant of employee work–life balance.

“Workplaces are making a lot more effort around transparency, because we’ve had to learn how to communicate differently in this remote environment,” Pound said. “So you’re seeing companies using different forms of communication to make sure that they’re reaching employees, and then also a much greater awareness now about that work–life balance and what employees might be dealing with at home, rather than just the workplace.”