Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
The Speed to Hire Show - Screen for High-Potential and Transferable Skills to Widen Your Talent Pool

The Speed to Hire Show – Screen for High-Potential and Transferable Skills to Widen Your Talent Pool


Episode 9 – Lori DePace, Publicis Health

Publicis Health is a revolutionary Health Engagement Platform that integrates data, content, and technology to create a seamless experience for its users. With a focus on marketing and business transformation, this platform provides healthcare clients with easy access to world-class talent and cutting-edge capabilities.

Boasting 40 offices and 11 brands across the globe, Publicis Health employs a team of over 3,000 healthcare professionals. Keeping up with the hiring demands of an organization of this size and reach is no small feat, especially in a competitive and complex candidate market. Hiring interns plays a critical role in expanding the talent pool for Publicis Health’s hiring teams.

This episode of The Speed to Hire Show features Publicis Health’s Program Manager, Lori DePace. 

Key Takeaways

  • [4:00] Encourage candidates to meet with employees to reinforce your employer brand – connecting candidates with brand ambassadors allows employees to feel more connected with the brand while ensuring the right talent joins the team.
  • [9:10] Teach hiring decision-makers to identify transferable skills – ensure everyone reviewing resumes and screening candidates understands how to evaluate candidates for valuable skills and experiences from all backgrounds.
  • [16:01] Ask behavioral questions to identify transferable skills – direct experience may not be necessary for every role. Asking questions that reveal transferable skills helps identify high-potential candidates.
  • [20:14] Be aware of how the pandemic impacted soft skills – college students during the global pandemic did not have the opportunity to develop some soft skills in the workplace but may demonstrate skills in other ways.

Video Transcript 

JOSH TOLAN: All right, let’s do it. So, Lori, to get started, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself? 

LORI DEPACE: Yes. Thank you so much, Josh. So I’m Lori DePace. I work at Publicis Health on the early careers team. I have been with Publicis Health now for over 13 years, which is just so wild to think about, absolutely wild. I started in 2009 which is a great time to be unemployed. 

And, essentially, I lost my job at the beginning of 2009. I had been working for a non-profit. And in December of 2009, a temp agency that I had signed up with was like, it’s not an executive assistant job but like it’s got some like assistant type stuff to it, and it’s calendar management a little bit, and they’ll pay you $17 an hour, and you don’t have to interview. And I was like, done, done. 

And that was a recruiting coordinator position. And I at Publicis, and I never looked back. I kind of joined, realize like, oh, I like this. I like talking to people. I like getting to know folks. I did a lot of small talk, greeting candidates that they came in for interviews. And really just kind of fell in love with the culture and the idea of just getting to know people. 

Then became a recruiter. Did that for a little bit within Publicis. And then was realizing that my passions and the things that I was getting the most excited about was when I was helping our younger talent. So I would always kind of pitch in and help a little bit with our intern program, whether it was interview scheduling or then ultimately recruiting for them, or our entry-level talent that we would bring in. 

And I really liked making connections with these folks that were still, kind of, shiny. They were still figuring out what they wanted to do and they were still kind of finding their footing. And I really felt invigorated by that. And then when this opportunity to join this talent programs team and really focus on our internships and our early career hiring, I was like, this is perfect. This is absolutely perfect. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s awesome. And I know we’ll definitely dive into the internship program and everything you’re doing on the early career side. But just to give a little bit more context, can you tell me a little bit more about the company. What do you guys do? How many employees do you have? 

LORI DEPACE: So I’m with Publicis Health, which is a part of the larger pool Publicis Group, which is one of the largest advertising marketing and communication holding companies in the world. Essentially when you’re in this industry of advertising, PR, comms, and you look high up enough in the food chain if you will, this company is owned by this company is owned by this company, everybody’s kind of owned by about the same six holding companies. Publicis Group being one of the top three. 

And then under Publicis Group, there are smaller holding companies there. We call them pillars internally. They’re like centers of excellence that focus on specific areas within this industry. Publicis Health is the health and wellness specialists under Publicis Group. So we focus on that advertising marketing space for pharma and health clients. 

So we have about 10 different companies that fall under our umbrella. We actually just launched a new one yesterday called Insagic which is all about insights and data specialties. Literally, the press release ran out yesterday, so we’re really excited about that one. But, yeah, we– a lot of what we do is kind of in that creative advertising space. So like full-service creative advertising agencies that, again, focus on the health and wellness side of the industry. 

Publicist Group– to answer your question about employees — Publicis Group is around 80,000 employees, and that’s worldwide. Publicist Health– if we’re looking at US-based Publicist Health, there are around 3,000 or so employees within the Publicis Health space. 

JOSH TOLAN: OK, awesome. And tell me about — I know you’ve got a huge internship program. You guys are big on the early career side. Tell me about what that team looks like besides you. What’s the makeup? 

LORI DEPACE: Yeah. So it’s gone through some shifts and some changes over the years. I’ve been doing this — I have been working with our intern program since 2012, and the role I’m in currently, since 2015. And at the current moment, it is me and one other person 100% dedicated to it. 

We have some folks that lean in on like a 25% capacity, taking on a couple of roles to recruit for. And we also utilize campus ambassadors when it comes to campus recruitment. Like going on campus or doing virtual campus recruitment, we like to utilize our early career population that works for us. Get them excited about giving back, potentially, to their alma mater or just to the next generation of talent coming in the doors. 

And we find that it really resonates with students as well. Like I can talk until I’m blue in the face about how great we are. But when they hear it from someone who is like, oh, that person went through what I’m going through right now two years ago, and they came out on the other side. There’s definitely like an impact to it. So the actual team is like two and 1/2 ish people, but we bring in a lot of folks ad hoc to help out with stuff. 

JOSH TOLAN: It’s important to connect potential hires with employees or people that have worked with you regardless of tenure or what type of role they’re going into. But I think on the early career side, I can even view it as more important because you have a lot of folks that this is going to be their first job. 

And so there’s a lot of uncertainty around just what the workplace is like in general. And there are probably a lot of folks that might not really even be sure what they want to do moving forward or with their career until they’re kind of in an exploration phase. 

And so having those ambassadors are almost like mentors for people that are already on campus and can help guide them and figure out if working for you guys is something they’re interested in or maybe not interested and they need to go down another path. So I love that you guys do that. So tell me, with the internship program, two people, how many people are you bringing on a year? Like what’s the scope of the program? 

LORI DEPACE: Yeah. So for this upcoming summer, we’re bringing on around 35 interns that are going to be spread between New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. It does vary from year to year. This is a little bit of a lighter year. We raised our intern rate which– up to 20 an hour, which is so exciting. And I’m so happy that we’re able to be more competitive and be more on par with, I think, what college students they deserve when it comes to internships and things like that. 

In years past, there was one year when we zoomed up to hiring 80. We had hired like 45 the year prior and then all of a sudden we hired — I think the request was for 82 interns that summer, which was so bananas to think about. And, again, at the time, we had like maybe three of us in total, and we still wanted to be able to give a high-touch experience to people. 

We had prided ourselves on, no matter the size, still having people feel like they weren’t applying and going into a black hole or they weren’t doing a first-round interview and then never hearing from someone. Like we really try to be as transparent as possible and to be as communicative as possible with people. And that big jump was like, oh, boy, how do we do this? 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. Lots of things to figure out when you need to scale by like double what you did the previous year. And so in order to hire whether it’s 35 this year or 50 or 80 in years past, what’s the typical applicant flow? Are you getting tons of candidates applying, or what does that look like? 

LORI DEPACE: Absolutely. So we have seen upwards of 3,000 to 3,500 applicants in the past coming in for every role that — yeah. Some of those are duplicates, like somebody is applying to more than one position. But, again, we’re priding ourselves on looking at every single recipe that comes in. We usually get around — per role that’s posted, we usually get around 100 to 130-ish type applicants per role. So it’s definitely like a large chunk of people, for sure. 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah. So, I mean, with two people, that’s got to present some pretty big challenges, especially trying to deliver the experience you’re hoping for. That’s just a lot of people that, A, are entering your pipeline. And, B, you’re trying to give them a high-touch experience. 

And, C, the interviewing process is a little bit tricky because the reality is with folks that are just starting their career, one resume to the next is probably pretty similar. So what are some of the things — and maybe you can walk me through what the hiring process would look like for an internship. 

LORI DEPACE: Absolutely. So I think there’s kind of a twofold answer to that. So when we are going through our applicants and looking at resumes, I think a thing that– because you’re right, not everybody has five internships in this industry already. A lot of people are trying to find their first one. We’re getting sophomores, they’ve just declared their major and are still trying to figure out where to find their footing within this industry because it is a really broad industry. 

So a thing that we’re really passionate about, making sure that we look for as the first line of defense of looking at resumes and we really impart on our managers who end up reviewing candidates down the line, is looking for transferable skills. Really looking and understanding based on what a candidate has done, knowing that they might be a sophomore in college or a junior in college where they don’t have that work work experience. 

That really understanding, OK, what have they shown on their resume from a school project perspective that could be applicable to this? What have they– how have they articulated the summer waiter job that they had in a way that kind of makes sense for the role that they’re applying to. 

I think some of that onus does fall on the student to really think about how they’re articulating what they have done. And, again, I’ll emphasize, food service, customer service, retail, things like that that you might think, well, that was just like a job I had at the gap. Like, I don’t know if I should put that on my resume. 

No, put that on your resume. You are learning so many skills at those types of positions that are going to be so, so, so beneficial for you tomorrow, six months from now, four years right now. You’re learning customer service, you’re learning how to diffuse difficult situations, and you’re learning how to manage a lot at once. These are all things that are super transferable. And that you want to make sure that you’re articulating that, someone knows that you know how to do. 

But, yeah, for someone who’s thinking like, well, I haven’t — all I did was work at the ice cream shop down by the store last summer. No, that’s awesome. That is amazing. Put that for what you’ve done. So I think that’s part of it. 

And then, again, on the flip side, we’re really, really imparting onto our people look for those transferable skills. Understand that the work that they did in their business fraternity at school is going to be beneficial for you in your position that you’re hiring for. 

And you don’t need someone who has seven internships under their belt already. It’s so great to find someone who is new and fresh and who you can help mold. So I think that’s, kind of, the first side of it. 

If we’re looking at the actual process, though, when folks apply– again, we’re looking at every single resume that comes in. We’re looking for those transferable skills. We’re looking to make sure that folks have known what they’re applying for. A lot of times people just mass apply to jobs, and you want to make sure that it makes sense what you’re applying to. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be hyper-focused because, again, you’re still figuring stuff out. But if you are a finance major, let’s say, it might not make sense for you to apply to a graphic design position. So you want to make sure– we want to make sure that we’re looking at folks under that lens too. 

The folks that we like, we send an email to through our applicant tracking system saying like, thank you so much for applying. We are working on the next steps, and we’ll be in touch soon. But we want to verify a couple of things with you. And we verify that they’re able to work the dates of our program because we do have set guidelines around that. They have to be able to start on one day and on another day. 

And we also verify that they’re able to work in the city in which the position that they applied to in that office. Because we have moved back into a hybrid work environment of about three days a week in the office, so we’re requesting that our interns do that as well. 

So once we get them saying, yep, I’m good to go, then we actually send them a request to do a Spark Hire. We have been utilizing Spark Hire since 2016, since that year that things kind of blew up for us and we went from 40 to 80 somewhat intern positions. 

And we found that utilizing the one-way video interviewing capabilities within Spark Hire allowed us to still do a bit of that more personalized screen without us having to take 30 minutes out of our day to talk to every single person. 

So we utilize it in a way that we have a welcome video. And we have about six to seven video questions that intern candidates are required to ask. We made sure that we had videos of people asking the questions because we know it’s awkward to talk to your computer screen. And at least with this, they feel like, oh, someone asked me a question and I’m answering it. Versus here’s something written on a screen, let me verbalize my response. 

So we, again, send them that request. We give them about a week to do it. We review the Spark Hires to make sure that folks have actually answered their questions, and that things sound good. We understand– obviously, especially given the last handful of years — that people’s home situations have been different with COVID and working remotely and things like that. 

So we always make sure on our end and, again, on our hiring managers’ ends, that there’s no judgment around what the background that they’re in is like because we don’t know their living situation, background noise, things like that. 

The key thing is the content of their responses, and making sure that they’re actually answering the question. We send completed Spark Hires and resumes to a manager to review. They pick two or three that they want to do a team video interview with. And from that two or three, we hire a person. 

JOSH TOLAN: Great. So it sounds like you’ve got a really streamlined process, which you need to have with that volume and the number of people that you need to hire. I think the one-way interview for you guys solves a problem of, if I’ve got 3,000 or 3,500 people applying and we’ve got to make 35 hires from that and we have to people, if I’m trying– if I’m in your shoes and I’m trying to do phone screens, let’s say, with everybody that on paper — which, again, on the early career side, a lot of them are going to look very similar. 

So if I’m doing phone screens with everybody that based on paper should make it to the next step, there’s just no way from a time to hire a standpoint that you can meet your deadlines. Or you’ll have people that will drop out and find something somewhere else because it just takes too long to connect with you guys. 

So I think that was a really smart move you made, especially when you needed to scale up to 80 plus intern hires for a single year. Now when you guys are interviewing these candidates, what are the types of questions you’re asking to evaluate them on those transferable skills? Is it mostly behavioral style interviewing? 

LORI DEPACE: Yes. So with the — specifically with the Spark Hire-based ones where they see a prerecorded question and they’re answering, there are some basic ones like, obviously, you get that easy stuff out of the way first. Tell us your name, where you go to school, what year you are, and what you’re majoring in. We ask a question like why are you applying for this internship? And what are you hoping to get out of it? What are you hoping to contribute? 

But then it’s a lot of behavioral-based. Like, tell me about a time when you were on a team in a difficult situation. Tell me about a time you had to use a creative solution to solve a problem. Like, what was the setup? What happened? Things like that. 

And then for some of our more niche specialized roles, we’ll ask — like our creative roles, like our design or copywriting ones it’s like, what’s your favorite creative thing that you’ve done? Like what’s your favorite creative project that you’ve done? What do you — we also like to ask them like, what do you like to do outside of class? What are your hobbies? What else do you like to do in your spare time? 

But for the most part, it tends to be behavioral-based. And then when we’re doing the live interviews, the team’s video interviews, we have an interview guide that we send to every manager that has the different competencies that we evaluate folks on, with suggestions of behavioral-based questions tied to each competency. 

JOSH TOLAN: Got it. And, yeah, I mean, I think the behavioral questions are key to your point. Candidates that are applying to work for you guys should be thinking about the experiences that they have. That, maybe, in their mind they’re like, oh well, I just work at the ice cream truck, or whatever. 

But thinking about those experiences and reflecting on, what did I learn during that time? Not only is a story that they can tell on their resume. But then a lot of those situations become applicable in the actual interview because they can pull from the experience that maybe, yeah, it wasn’t that, another internship at a relevant company. But it’s a relevant experience that can show they’ve dealt with certain situations that would be relevant when they enter the workplace with you guys. 

LORI DEPACE: Absolutely. I always chuckle because so often the well that folks pull from is a group project in school. That’s a lot of times especially the, tell me about a time when you were on a team in a difficult situation. A lot of times people pull from the unfortunately, very common, well, we had a group project at school and so-and-so wasn’t pulling their weight. And we had to have a difficult conversation with them. 

And all of that it’s just like, yeah, that’s– unfortunately that is something that you have to learn how to do when you’re in college and it’s something that you have to learn how to do when you’re working. And it’s something that’s so applicable for your entire career. 

JOSH TOLAN: Yeah, yeah. I always think about that. When I think back at my college experience — I was an econ major. I’m not an economist now, you know. So I think you learn a lot of good stuff in your classes. But I think what — at least when I look back on my college experience — it was more about, like, I learned how to really study and how to manage my time and how to build processes for myself and build discipline. 

And those are some of the things that I find most relevant today. I learned how to work on a tight deadline because maybe I didn’t feel like I knew as much about a certain subject in class so I had to study, study, study, cram, cram, cram, and figure it out. And I think those are the — and then like you said, work on group projects, stuff like that. 

But those are the experiences that people can pull from that might not be top of mind when they’re thinking about writing their resume and starting to apply for jobs. So I like that you say that because I think there’s some value there for– if there are any early careers folks that end up watching this — on just some tips, especially in today’s market, on how to really differentiate themselves but also stand out. 

Because, like you said, there are thousands of people that are applying for some of these roles. So I think that’s a really critical thing. Now when you’re talking to candidates, in early careers, what are you finding? 

I know you’ve been doing this — you’ve been using Spark Hire. You’ve been doing this for seven years with Spark Hire, 10 plus years at Publicis so things have certainly changed, I’m sure. But in today’s market, what are you hearing from those candidates that things are most important to them? What do they care about? 

LORI DEPACE: Yeah. So I think the sort of candidate marketplace, when you think about the pandemic, has shifted — it has not shifted in certain ways, but also really shifted a lot in a lot of ways. Because I feel like in my time of doing a role like this, I constantly sit there and think like, I was good in college but college students today are — so much is being asked of them. They have to accomplish so much. 

They have to be the president of this club and do all these things and spread themselves really thin. But I feel like with the pandemic, it’s really exhausted folks. I mean, it’s exhausted all of us. But I feel like it’s something so different for college students right now between the pandemic, between social unrest that’s been going on, and discussions around all of that. 

I think folks are looking for a place where they can make a connection. I know there’s, obviously, a major discourse about returning to the office. And I know people who skew both sides of that coin. And I completely understand and respect folks who want to still continue to work from home. 

I personally am a social person, I also live alone, so I like being able to go into the office and interact with people. But, again, I fully understand people on the other side of that discourse as well. But I think with current college students, they have been doing everything in their dorm rooms. They have been going to class in their dorm rooms. They’re sleeping in their dorm rooms. They’re doing their homework in their dorm rooms. They’re doing their virtual internship in their dorm rooms. 

They’re not getting some of the soft skills that I think we all take for granted, that we just, sort of, learn how to do over the course of life. And they haven’t had the chance to just learn those in the wild if you will. 

So we are finding that when we talk to them about how we’re transitioning back to three days in office, they’re like, oh my god, that’s great. I love that. I love that. And even last summer, we had a one day a week in office requirement, and they were like coming in on their own two or three times a week. So they want to meet each other. They want to meet if not their direct manager, then people on their team. 

They want to have those tangible connections like that that are not as– they’re not impossible to do virtually but they’re not as natural to do that. So I think that’s a key thing that I’m finding, especially in the last year and a half or so. 

And then on the flip side too, they really connect with companies that do more than just the work that keeps the lights on. And I think– I, obviously, can talk about how great Publicis Health is until I’m blue in the face, but I think that is something that I’m really proud, that Publicis Health has been able to do for a while is have that really strong and really outward commitment to corporate social responsibility. 

So that people, whether it’s intern candidates, whether it’s full-time candidates, they can see that Publicis Health does more than just the work to keep the lights on. Of course, the work to keep the lights on is so important. 

That’s what gets us the money to keep things going, and stuff like that. But there is a really strong and concerted effort to do volunteerism, to do some nonprofit work, or to work with organizations that promote awareness around things. So I think that’s become even more of an emphasis for candidates in these last handful of years as well. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s interesting. What I’m surmising from that is that it sounds like the candidates that you’re talking to, they want to be a part of something. They want to be a part of a community. From a goodwill standpoint, like, is the company doing the right thing and having strong core values and participating in the community, and moving forward good causes? 

But also they want to be part of something somewhat socially or from a teamwork standpoint or a collaboration standpoint. I always thought about it from the other way. Like, OK, there’s a lot of candidates that they’re coming out of school. And for the last couple of years, all of those folks they’ve been working remotely. They don’t know anything other than a remote work environment. 

And I never thought about even beyond that, some of the students have known virtual class, studying on their own, social distancing. Like it’s been a very isolated few years. And so from my perspective, I always made the assumption of like, oh, like, students that are coming out that have only worked in a remote workplace, they’re never going to want to go back to an office. 

And there are some people, for sure, that way. But it’s interesting to hear that there’s a whole other subset of that group that’s craving that. That’s like, this is what I’ve been doing for three years. I need interaction. I need that energy. I want to collaborate and be in person with my team members and build those relationships. 

And ultimately it ties back to wanting to be a part of something. So if you think about that, how are you weaving that into your messaging and the way that you’re interacting with and communicating with candidates throughout the hiring process to make them know that you’re that type of employer? 

LORI DEPACE: Absolutely. I’ll answer that. But one thing, it was mind-boggling to me when I thought about this, kind of going what you’re saying about current college students and stuff like that. Current college juniors started college in the fall of 2020. Isn’t that like bananas to think about? The current college juniors started in the fall of 2020. 

Their first year of college — obviously, depending on where they went– but for the most part, their first year of college was not really a first year of college. It was fully virtual. When they became sophomores, it was like freshman 2.0 because they finally had the chance to do some of the quote-unquote, “normal college things.” Isn’t that weird to think about? 

JOSH TOLAN: It’s a bizarre time. I mean, there’s no other way to put it. Like there’s just — yeah, that is strange to think about. 

LORI DEPACE: Oh, I know. But, anyway, to actually answer your question, so we are out and about either — I’ve been able to do some in-person campus recruitment over the course of the last year, which I’m incredibly, incredibly thankful for. But also a lot of the virtual recruitment as well still using handshake, using brazen, and things like that, for various events and still getting in front of a lot of people. 

And I think the key thing is that– and also like on the Publicis Health website on the internship program page, we feature a lot of photos that are specifically from volunteerism things that we’ve done or from their presentation that they do at the end of the summer. So I think from a visual perspective like the hero image on the Publicis Health internship website is a collage of in-person connectivity-type things. 

And we have — for when we’re physically on campus, I have a one-pager about the internship program that’s kind of the main photo on it is from a volunteer thing that we did in New York. So, again, we try to have that visual representation in there. 

And from a talking point perspective, we just always make sure when we’re running through the specifics of programs, nine weeks, full time, five days a week, 40 hours a week, 20 an hour you work on-site, getting hands-on experience. But at the Publicis Health level, we bring to learning and development sessions. We go through all of that. 

And then we say, and also we have a volunteer day that our interns in each city take about a half day, 3/4 of a day, and go off-site and volunteer at a local organization to give back. And I talk a little bit about what last year’s organizations were, and how we’re still working through what this year will be. But we’re absolutely still going to do it again. 

And then I talk a little bit about our group project, which for the last handful of years has been creating campaigns and engagement strategies for various nonprofits that we work with as an organization. So doing things for the Skin Cancer Foundation a handful of years ago, doing things for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness last summer. 

I can’t necessarily give specifics on last summer because it’s still active client work, but an organization that raises awareness around cancers. And specifically, they were working on awareness campaigns for the HPV vaccine. 

To get college-age students back on track with getting that vaccine because HPV is such a nasty virus that affects more than just folks that have uteruses. So, really, getting them excited and back on track to do that. So really them understanding that that is really woven into everything. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s great. I think from a variety of angles that helps, one, by just setting the expectation from both the information you provide, but also from all the content and things that you guys put out there to attract people. 

You, in some ways, are getting candidates to self-select in or self-select out. There are some folks that it’s like, you know what? In-person isn’t it for me. I want virtual, da, da, da, da. This isn’t for me. And so whether that’s pre-application or whether that’s post-application, you have the subset of candidates that just leave. Which then leaves you with the candidates that are self-selecting. 

Because you’re so transparent with what the expectations are, but also through all of your content, what the organization looks like, and some of the things that you guys are doing, the people that do opt-in and continue down that path with you are folks that– or at least you would hope are the most engaged people that are craving that type of environment. Which gives you a better, more engaged talent pool to work with. Would you say that’s accurate in what you’re actually seeing? That’s just my assumption. 

LORI DEPACE: Completely, completely. I think working in health, especially to your point about self-selecting out, even working in health isn’t for everyone. I think people need to consider it potentially a little bit more. But sometimes you can be looking at some heavier stuff, depending on what the specific client that you’re working on is working on to treat. 

But knowing that you’re doing something that’s impacting someone and that someone has — if someone needs what your client is putting out there in order to live their day-to-day life, I think that — a special type of person wants to pursue that. So that’s definitely a part of it. 

And, yeah, to your point, we absolutely are seeing more engaged folks. We’re seeing people who after their internship are still following up with us saying, we want to work for you. Can I do an internship next summer? When do you start hiring? I’m really excited about wanting to work for Publicis Health again or one of your agencies. 

And then even a step away from that, we’re seeing folks that maybe weren’t selected to be a part of our internship program, but saw the journey and saw what could have happened and saw what did happen for those that were selected and went, you know what? 

Even though I wasn’t selected, I still had a really good experience in this interview process. And I want to apply again. Or I want to keep in touch with these people to hopefully work full-time when I graduate college. 

We absolutely see a lot of repeat folks. One of my favorite former interns who now works for us, she interned with us back in 2017. She had gotten really far along in the process of 2016. She was in the top two, and the hiring manager selected the other person. But she decided to try again the next year. And she’s ended up becoming one of our favorite alumni that’s come out of that. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s a great story. And I think with you guys, when you’re getting thousands of people applying and you have a limited number of spots, the reality is there’s going to be more people that you want to hire than you can actually hire. Especially from year to year, one year you need 80 people, another year you need 35. It’s a pretty big difference and you’re still getting the same applicant flow. 

So undoubtedly, like, if you were able to hire, let’s say, 80 people the year before, with the same applicant flow as that you’re getting this year, there are certain people that just– that are going to be the silver medallists. 

And you’re touching a lot of folks that are silver medallists. That, to your point, is a really, really strong pipeline because those are people that you could still be really– see being really successful at your organization. And because you gave them such a good experience throughout the hiring process, even though they didn’t make it, they still want to become part of your organization. 

And so I think that’s one thing that a lot of companies don’t consider, especially when they have a big pipeline and there are just some people that they, unfortunately, can’t move forward with because they only have so many spots. They’re going to have to hire x months later or x years later, and those people, if they had a good experience, they’re going to keep their eyes on the company. And those that didn’t are not. 

And it certainly makes your job a lot easier if you’ve got people already warm in the pipeline for the next time you hire because of the experience they had with you previously versus starting from scratch. 

LORI DEPACE: Completely. And I think, too, that I always like to boast about a little bit is that when you think about the pipeline coming out of our intern program– whether it’s, to your point, like people who were hired or people who were those silver medallists– over the years, those people are still in contact with me. 

I’ve been working, doing stuff with them for 10 years. I still remember my people from 2012. When we were looking at some of our hiring data from last year, from 2022– I don’t remember offhand the exact number of hires. It was quite a couple hundred that we hired last year. 10% of those hires were from the campus recruitment pipeline and former interns and things like that. So that’s a good chunk of a really large year of hiring. And 10% came from what we’ve done. 

JOSH TOLAN: Absolutely. And I also think about the fact, like you said, you’ve been doing this since 2012, let’s call it. So 10, 11 years. Let’s just say on the low end, 40 interns average per year over 10 years. That’s 400 people, give or take, obviously. That’s a lot of people, though. 

Like, if they had a good experience not only in the hiring process but most importantly, as an intern for you guys, that’s a lot of people that you can leverage from a social proof standpoint, for me, ambassador standpoint, of mentorship standpoint to help you in the hiring process for the next season. Like, you’ve got 400 people potentially to call on or to use in content if they’re willing to do so. Are you guys doing much of that? 

LORI DEPACE: We definitely try. So I think when we’re recruiting for the current crop of interns, we usually go to last year’s class and ask them to help spread the word. And potentially the year before just because we’re looking at folks who are still either in school or still connected to their school very closely. So we’ll utilize a year, maybe two years out to really do that. 

When we put out calls to action as a larger Publicis Health Organization, though, our interns are always the ones — like from that 400 plus like you were saying over the past decade or so, we always see the biggest chunk of them come in. 

Like we launched– I guess it was about two years ago at this point, we launched our alumni newsletter. Like we started– like we put out calls to action of like, did you ever work for Publicis Health? Do you want to learn about what we’re doing and business opportunities and, potentially, job opportunities to come back and get people like these boomerangs? 

And we had it included in exit interviews from people leaving the organization. We shared it on LinkedIn for our networks to kind of see and sign up for. And when we were initially looking at the list, my coworker was like, it’s like 20 of these people that came in over the first day are all former interns. I’m like, yeah, I’m not surprised because they love being engaged still because, again, they come with that positive experience. 

So a couple of years ago we learned about an organization called WayUp doing a thing called the top 100 intern programs. And they started that I want to say in 2017 maybe. And we learned about it the next year. And part of that is public voting where you can vote on an organization to hopefully get them into the top 100 programs. 

And I sent out mass emails to all of those people that I saw had connections with — the people that worked for us that I saw had the connections with posted it on LinkedIn being like, oh my god, please. 

And we were able, for two years, to get recognized partially because of that public vote component that was me being like, oh my god, please, if you love me and you and you remember me and you still think I’m a good person, please vote for us. 

JOSH TOLAN: That’s great. I love it. Well, there you go. That’s a perfect example of using the massive amount of people that have had a good experience with you guys. Years and years– and you can go years and years back. And they develop this social proof for you that now you can go in for the next internship season. 

It’s like, hey, we’re a top 100, or whatever it is, internship program, according to this site and that site. And this is based on the real reviews from people that were sitting in your shoes just a year ago or a few years ago. So that’s great. 

Lori, this has been awesome. I think this has been really helpful for me. I personally love learning about your story and everything you guys have going on over there. You guys are definitely a mighty team of two to be running the type of program that you guys are running. And I know that people, whether they’re hiring folks for early careers or not, are definitely going to find a lot of value in some of the insight that you shared today. So thank you. 

LORI DEPACE: Thank you. Thank you. This was great. Thank you so much. 

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.