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Transparency and its Impact on the Candidate Experience

Our Approach to Recruitment and Hiring at Pepper Foster

Pepper Foster Consulting

The employees of a company shape the way it operates, influence the culture, and determine how the business is perceived. This is especially relevant in management consulting, where the advisory services provided to clients are based on our people's perspectives, expertise, and experience. We have found that a focus on transparency during hiring has not only improved our outcomes but has also positively impacted our candidates' experience.

At Pepper Foster, we understand the impact we have on our clients, consultants, and community, so we strive to create a people-first culture that naturally extends to how we support candidates throughout the recruitment and interview processes. It is important that our recruitment and selection process enables candidates to accurately assess compatibility with our firm just as diligently as we evaluate our candidates fit with us. Our business is centered on hiring individuals to support our clients, and in order to successfully meet our clients’ needs, we have to start with who we bring onto our team. After all, who we hire and partner with will represent our brand, and it’s imperative we create processes to ensure we attract and hire people who understand who we are and align with our mission, vision, and values. At Pepper Foster, we want our processes to align with our core values, so let’s talk about the importance of transparency. 

The Power of the Hiring System: A Pathway to Equity

Before we dive into the practices we utilize to center the candidate experience, it is important to acknowledge the impact of the broader systems that affect both job seekers and employers, the hiring system being most relevant to this conversation. Several systems, including healthcare, education, and housing, shape the access to essential resources needed for people to comfortably live and survive. The hiring system is among these systems that impact access to these essential resources. Since recruiters and hiring managers can serve as the gatekeepers to a candidate’s advancement, it’s important to start off by acknowledging this system, its power, and how transparency can move us toward leveling the playing field. 

Pepper Foster has taken proactive steps to integrate transparency and move toward breaking down the traditional barriers that typically exist within hiring practices to make ours one that is more equitable, and as we outline them below, we also acknowledge there is still much to learn and more progress to be made. 

Integrating Transparency: 3 Strategies to Center the Candidate Experience 

At Pepper Foster, we use our core beliefs and values as our North Star to guide us in decision-making, strategy, and how the firm shows up for our clients and in the communities in which we operate. These core beliefs and values shape our recruitment and interview process as well as our approach to how we treat our candidates. We view the relationship between the business and candidates as a mutual one, so we believe in providing access to information so we’re not only determining whether the candidate aligns with our needs, but they are also able to determine whether the work environment, and overall culture we can offer is a fit for their needs as well! 

While it’s true that people need jobs to sustain their livelihoods and meet the goals they hold outside of work, companies also need strong, competent, and exceptional people to help drive their businesses forward. Integrating transparency in our processes not only benefits our candidates, but it makes our business stronger. 

We don’t claim to be trailblazers in providing an exceptional candidate experience but we have found tools that have been useful in both providing a caring and quality experience to our candidates as well as helping us find exceptional talent.

Begin with the Basics: Provide Foundational Information During the Phone Screen 

Have you been in an interview that feels like a test? Like you’re not going to get the information you need unless you ask just the right question, in just the right way, to the exact right person? Well, we have too. And that isn’t our style.

To level the playing field, we proactively provide candidates with information about our firm, who we are, our goals, our current status, where we're headed, as well as our baseline expectations for candidates. Our Talent Acquisition (TA) team collaborated to develop a script of high-level information that we share with all candidates during our phone interviews. This ensures continuity in our process, and empowers candidates to understand whether our values and culture align with their desired expectations.

Ensure a Smooth Candidate Experience: Proactively Outline the Interview Process 

Another tool that we offer is an overview of our interview process that covers general information including: how many interviews they should expect in our process, interview duration/location/topics, as well as a general timeline for how long our entire interview process takes from phone screen to offer decision.

Tools like these don’t tie us to a specific timeline or outcome. However, they do hold us accountable to maintaining a consistent process, as well as giving our candidates an idea of what they can expect from our team. 

Emphasize Feedback for Success: Provide & Gather Feedback Throughout  

Feedback is a critical piece of developing a successful recruitment and interview process, and it’s most effective when that feedback goes both ways. 

Providing candidates with opportunities to receive feedback on their performance can be a transformative tool not only for their current interview process but also for their job search as a whole. It's another way we break down the barriers embedded into the hiring system: telling people what they did well and where they can improve.

We strive to create opportunities to provide feedback to candidates throughout our process, and this most commonly occurs when we’ve determined a candidate will not be a fit for their firm at some point in the interview process. Our TA team provides candidates with the opportunity to receive feedback on why the decision was made utilizing tools we’ve designed for our interviewers that strives to eliminate bias and encourage consistency. This feedback can be valuable for their future interviews with other organizations or if they choose to reapply with us in the future.

To ensure feedback is effective, both parties should have opportunities to provide it. Our hands-on recruiting approach allows our recruiters to walk alongside the candidate, provide insights, prepare them for each stage of the process, as well as provide candidates with the opportunity to share their experience with us. This feedback is essential in improving our process, and we value the candidate's input in shaping the evolution of our interview process.

Transparency Helps Employers and Candidates 

Pepper Foster leans heavily on its core belief of transparency to shape and evolve our recruitment practices and candidate interview process. Although we will continue to evaluate, grow, and make progress toward creating an equitable process that breaks down the barriers in our hiring process, we have found that a focus on access to information has been not only beneficial to our hiring outcomes but has also had a positive impact on our candidate’s experience. This approach has helped us move toward addressing larger systemic issues within the hiring system, and finding effective ways to be more transparent in our process to provide an exceptional candidate experience.

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