The Case for Transparency in the Hiring Process

transparency when hiring

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It is often said that the hiring process is a lot like dating. Both parties are trying to find the right fit, be a good match, and hopefully stay together for a productive long while. You hope to find a connection.

I think the process is usually more akin to ‘speed-marrying.’ You get some initial information about the other party (cover letter and resume for the hirer, job description, and Glassdoor reviews for the candidate), have a date or two (i.e., the interview process), and then make a decision to ‘be together.’

A Life-Changing Decision

The importance of this decision can’t be overstated. The candidate is making a life-changing decision. Their financial security, job/life satisfaction, future opportunities, and family well-being can all hang in the balance.

It’s important for the company too. The success of the company, team morale, team retention, and the reputation of the hiring manager can all hang in the balance. It’s a major investment on both sides of the equation…each party is putting a lot into it, where there is risk for both.

Would you ever marry someone if they didn’t tell you all the key facts about themselves? The good, the bad, the ugly? The company expects and even demands job candidates to be transparent. They have to state if they have a criminal history, often explain gaps in their resume, and talk through successes and failures in their past work.

Transparency is Key

I’ve seen it happen often that companies don’t themselves reciprocate and provide a transparent and realistic view of what candidates will be getting themselves into. For example, hiring managers who don’t reveal to director-level candidates that there is currently very low morale on the team the candidate will be managing or that there is an incredibly difficult stakeholder the candidate would be working a lot with, where the previous two people in that role have left because of that stakeholder.

Too often, hiring managers sell a reality that doesn’t exist. Everyone’s 100% happy and motivated, everyone’s a delight to work with, the workload is completely manageable… it’s just a work utopia. Or they might obfuscate by stating something like ‘of course, it’s not perfect, but nowhere is’ without actually revealing anything. Yes, I understand the need to put your best foot forward. But it has to be your actual foot, and not someone else’s.

Let’s say an employee wasn’t truthful/transparent about something substantial in their record, which of course happens. The company can take action against that person and even terminate them.

Let’s say a company wasn’t truthful/transparent about something substantial in their record. Really, what can an employee do? Leave and go somewhere else. Write a review on Glassdoor. Provide an exit interview, where HR (sometimes) dismisses such feedback since it’s from a ‘disgruntled employee.’ But too often there is nothing that makes the company or hiring manager accountable. There is often no lesson learned that will be applied to the next candidate. So, the same thing will likely happen again.

One of the things I found refreshing about TTA when I interviewed here was the high-level of transparency in the hiring process. I was informed about the team and the culture and the reality of working here. The hiring manager (our CEO) kept me informed during the hiring process of where things stood, and even how she viewed my candidacy. It helps that our CEO is the most transparent (and authentic) leader I’ve ever met. She’s transparent about how and why she makes decisions, her successes and failures, and the company’s past and future.

I think transparency flows down from the top, where senior leadership must be transparent in order for hiring managers to feel enabled to follow suit.

Edelman found that 1 in 3 employees doesn’t trust their employer.[i] When a relationship starts off with a lack of transparency, and the new employee experiences what the actual reality is, why would the employee trust the employer? I’d argue you can’t have trust without transparency. And without trust, the relationship is doomed to fail.

Transparency begins with the hiring process and continues to the new hire onboarding process.