Realistic Job Previews

    Paula Fulghum

    As an employer have you ever had that feeling of regret after a bad hire, thinking you wish you would have known something about this individual before? Or even as an employee of a company, wished you would have known what you were getting yourself into? Selecting individuals into a job role that he or she doesn’t fit well can be frustrating and costly to the organization. Mishaps and poor hires can be to some extent avoided with realistic job previews. Realistic job previews can range from pre-screening criteria over the phone to shadowing experiences or performing tasks as part of the interview process. There are many different suggestions that can help to provide a real-life preview of how a worker would perform in a given job, and let the candidate get a feel for the job they would be entering.

    During a realistic job preview, it is critical to give a clear picture of what the job will be like to the employee and get an idea of how the employee would perform if hired on as a permanent member. Remember in this process, that the goal is to find employees that are going to fit your company the best. Don’t try to make the job seem completely glamorous if it’s not. Of course don’t scare potential employees away, but make sure the realistic job preview is in fact realistic. If it’s not, it can be a waste of time if you’re not conveying what the work experience is actually going to be like for the company and individual to preview. See if the employee mingles well with current employees and seems well adaptable to the workplace culture. Allow the candidate the opportunity to step out of the hiring process if the job seems totally unfit. Because a job preview can be of very little cost to the company, it is definitely worth it to lose a potential candidate than to hire one that is completely wrong for the job. Hiring someone who is going to quit in a short time will only add to financial and resource expenditures in training the employee and having to start over in the hiring process.

    What are some ideas for easy, cost-efficient job previews? Steps can be as simple as providing comprehensive information at the time of the initial phone screening. You can ask employees if they meet the criteria involved in the salary, time commitment, or challenging tasks. Of course a lot of employees are simply going to agree so that they appear socially desirable, but some may politely decline the offer for further interviews if they really don’t seem right for the job. Even the chance of weeding out employees that aren’t right with simple reality previews can save the company time and resources. During the interview process, employers can take many steps to show the candidate what the job is going to be like and see how the candidate fits into the work. You can have employees shadow current employees in the position. Even shadowing the position for a few hours could give an idea if there’s a mismatch in expectations. In addition to shadowing, it could be beneficial to give candidates time to interact with other employees they would be working with to see if personalities mix well. Employers could also have a “trial-run” day or longer period where you bring in candidates and let them work to see if they like the job, and give you a chance to see if they are any good. For example, you could have a candidate for a sales job come in and mingle with clients or make calls to prospective buyers. If you’re not comfortable with having a seemingly untrained employee interact with customers, you could create scenarios for the candidate to go through. If someone’s job is going to be to call customers to get them to donate money to an organization, call them yourself at some point and set up a mock scenario of how they would interact with a potential customer. Lastly, if you want to invest more in this realistic preview option, you could create a video, a booklet, or an interactive webpage that helps candidates see the full picture of what to expect when working with your company.

    Using shadowing experiences, scenarios, and other realistic job previews, you can more easily spot when an employee may not be the best addition to your company or when the person is without a doubt one you can’t afford to lose. Realistic job previews may not be flawless; however, any savings in time and money invested in an employee that isn’t going to make a valuable permanent addition to the company is worth the additions of a realistic job preview to the application and selection process.

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