Talent Acquisition Coronavirus Meeting Themes (i4cp login required)


Takeaways from Weekly Talent Acquisition Action Calls: COVID-19 Response


Kristen Weirick, global head of talent acquisition and chief diversity
officer at United Airlines, was the Q&A guest for this week’s Talent Acquisition COVID-19 Response series call, where talent acquisition
leaders from companies such as Axogen, Federal Reserve Bank, Signant Health, and
many more discussed how COVID-19 has impacted talent acquisition and HR in a
broader sense at their organizations. 

Some highlights:

  •  In today’s first instant poll, call participants
    were asked where talent acquisition reports through in their organization. The
    largest number, 48%, said TA reports through a CoE, with 19% saying that talent
    acquisition reports through a business unit or other, respectively. Another 14%
    said that talent acquisition is a shared services model within their
    organization. Today’s Q&A guest, Kristen Weirick, global head of talent acquisition
    and chief diversity officer at United Airlines, discussed the HR org structure
    at United, and how different that structure might look like post-COVID.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the volume
    of recruiting at many organizations, and has led some to staff up in order to
    accommodate this volume. At United, for example, the airline made roughly
    11,500 new hires in 2019. (As Weirick explained, this number came down to about
    10,000 after accounting for those hires who actually dropped out during the organization’s
    stringent background screening process.) The organization has determined a
    hiring-to-headcount ration to help rightsize its talent acquisition team, which
    at one time included roughly 60 employees. “That’s a small time to support that
    [type of hiring] volume,” says Weirick, adding that its TA team is currently
    closer to 100.
  • Talent acquisition leaders are interested in
    what sort of key performance indicators should be tracked to measure an
    organization’s success in terms of diverse hiring. Time to fill, for example,
    is a metric that talent acquisition needs to monitor, but is not necessarily an
    indication of success.
  • The talent acquisition function’s time is
    increasingly split between different roles. For example, TA is not exclusively
    focused on sourcing or marketing to candidates, and, in some organizations,
    does not have someone dedicated to overseeing the company’s social
    media-related recruiting and hiring efforts, which, as at least one participant
    noted today, makes engaging candidates via social platforms a challenge.


The way employees are onboarded has changed drastically since the
coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., with companies making the process
exclusively virtual for new employees working remotely.


Indeed, the topic of onboarding was the primary focus of this week’s Talent
Acquisition COVID-19 Response series call, where talent acquisition leaders
from companies such as Zillow, Smartsheet, Pizza Hut, Land O’ Lakes, and many
more, discussed how COVID-19 has led their organizations to revamp onboarding
practices to accommodate an overwhelmingly remote workforce. Some highlights: 

  • In terms of onboarding duration, most companies’ current onboarding
    design is for one month or longer. For example, one of today’s polls found 39%
    of organizations saying their current onboarding process is designed to last
    for 30-plus days, with 29% of organizations saying one to two weeks, 17% saying
    one day or less, and 15% reporting their onboarding process is designed to
    encompass a new hire’s first 30 days.


  • Culture plays an equally critical part to compliance in the onboarding
    process as well. A second poll asked the group which of the following their
    organization emphasizes most in the onboarding process: Organizational culture,
    getting to know the people, compliance (policies, procedures, benefits, etc.),
    roles and responsibilities, or other. An equal number (43%) of respondents said
    organizational culture and compliance. This was the most common response,
    followed by getting to know the people, at 13%. No one indicated that their
    organizations focus on roles and responsibilities as part of onboarding.    
  • Count onboarding logistics among the many challenges the coronavirus
    pandemic presents to organizations and HR functions. Zillow’s Corina Kolbe,
    senior director of learning and development, and Sarah McLamb, onboarding
    project manager, discussed changes the organization has had to make to onboard
    remote employees during the pandemic. The onboarding process involves much more
    coordination between functions than it did in the past, they said. For example,
    a first step in revamping its onboarding process to acclimate large numbers of
    remote employees was to identify key stakeholders in the process – facilities,
    IT, HR, etc. – and assemble a team of roughly 25 to talk through the necessary
    considerations. Logistically, major changes including how the company shipped
    out laptops to new hires and issued credentials in a safe and secure way.
  • Companies are measuring the effectiveness of their onboarding practices
    primarily through surveys. A poll of the group found that 73% said they survey
    employees and managers, with 16% reporting no measurement in place with regard
    to onboarding, and another 8% saying they use surveys plus performance measures
    such as time to full productivity, for example. In terms of survey frequency,
    the consensus among the group was that surveys should be issued anywhere
    between 30 and 90 days after hire.


Guest: David Nason, Co-founder of Hirebrain 

1. Virtual
interview vendors in use by call participants:

  • HireVue (high end, relatively expensive)
  • Zoom
  • CoderPad (Technical Interviewing – Virtual White Board)
  • Microsoft Teams
  • WebEx
  • RIVS – Interview Stream
  • Skype
  • VidReach

 2. Current
concerns: We need people to be engaged and productive even if they aren’t
actively recruiting

  • Three current tracks of thinking:
  •  Health/Wellness/Safety
  •  Short-term response
  • Help Hiring Managers to adjust
  • Some companies are still in full recruitment
  • Some companies are redeploying into crisis management
  • Share the forecast for hiring with the team
  • Question to ask:
  • Is the project something that can be done at home?
  • Can/should the project be delayed
  • What are we doing every day to be productive?
  • Long-term strategy
  • What can we do today to make a long-term impact? 
  • Design Approach 
  • What’s the full map look like?       

3. Virtual Onboarding

4. Interns

  • Orgs are asking if now is the right time to bring on interns
  • It’s unlikely that the interns can go somewhere else
  • Take things case by case
  • Aiming to not cancel; may switch to virtual
  • Maybe start virtual and transition
  • Maybe keep everyone virtual
  • Questions: What are the student’s needs? Can the student
    afford to wait? Can the student get credit for virtual?
  • Hiring managers developing virtual onboarding plans
  • 10-week internship to shorter plans (6 to 8 weeks)Front end of program virtual; second part of the program is
    where you get the cultural component               


Topics covered during the first talent acquisition-focused call included:

Interviewing issues
•Is anyone making offers
without site interviews? 

for hires without video technology (video loops, WebEx, limit on-site

do we transition to virtual interviews?

video call best practices with candidates ahead of calls (Zoom, WebEx works)

do we ask about health risk of interviewees?

•Create boilerplate questions to ask all candidates to avoid stereotyping

•Ask candidates about their comfort level with coming onsite

Events Onsite? Orgs are experiencing lower
turnout rates

directly about precautions and offering alternatives to in-person interviews 

Contractors & Vendors

the impact when working with RPOs? Other

to do proactive, real-time coaching

sensing from vendors

TA Teams

•Are you providing recruiter
education on coronavirus?

pre-screening questions

questions (i.e. Google Doc) from vendors/ candidates to respond with accuracy
and alignment

do we handle contractors for TA?

dive sessions and ensure they know how to comfortably address these questions

Campus Recruiting

to college recruiting?


for hires without video technology (video loops)

out of on-site job fairs and interviews at college campuses

to recruit college students?

to seasonal hiring impacted (i.e., delay to a summer timeframe)?


around caring for the health, safety, well-being of the workforce (asking what
people feel comfortable with to show understanding with candidates)


background checks and workarounds?

delays in background checks that could delay hiring

How are supporting the initial networking touchpoints for new hire onboarding?

workforce planning needs to drive recruiting strategy

impacts of remote work?

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