John is frustrated. He has been working at his new company for less than a month and feels like he was hired under false pretenses. The job is nothing like it was described in the hiring process or even to a similar position he held at his last company. Meetings are called at a moment’s notice, and he is never given time to prepare. The workspace is all open plan, and he is used to an office where he can close the door for sensitive calls. He expressed his concerns to his manager, who admitted while the pace was maybe more hectic than John was used to, he was still confident that John could be successful.
Honesty is key in the recruiting process, and lack of it can easily lead to turnover. While the interview team may not intentionally mislead candidates, not giving them a clear picture of the job may hurt their chances of keeping a new hire or newly promoted employee engaged. In a tight job market, it may not take long for another company to recruit your new star away from you.
Is there a way to “show” a candidate what their job would be like versus simply trying to explain what they will be doing and give them a real idea of the position they are applying for?
Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) may be one solution. RJPs are planned situations as part of a recruiting process that act as an inside look at what the company – and the job – is really like. They are “show” versus “tell”. They do require advance planning and, done properly, they include release of liability signed in advance, but with consistency in use they can be easily and confidently managed internally.
For a position in a restaurant environment, candidates for kitchen staff may be shown a video of the kitchen in action during a busy rush and then be taken to a simulated work environment where he or she needs to assemble ingredients or prepare an easy dish in a similar time frame as would be expected on the job. For the host, observing phones ringing, “customers” approaching to ask about reservations or their place on the list and a party of 10 arriving late – all create an interesting challenge for the candidate to contemplate. For server candidates, observing employees greeting customers, taking orders, and carrying trays of items while winding through a busy dining room and lively bar area may provide great insight on the actual job itself.
For office roles, videos, and tours, as well as the opportunity to speak with those in the department they would be working with, are a great peek into what their working life may be like. Bring them into the break room, even if it isn’t floor to ceiling windows with a gleaming espresso machine in the corner. What does the workspace look like? How many meetings per week? What are the hours and pace like in any given week?
For the hiring manager, taking the time to observe and note, “What questions did they ask?”, “How did they interact with employees?”, or “Was the candidate engaged and present? Or were they on their phone during the observation session?”, can bring critical insights that bring value to the overall “interview” picture.
It won’t all be pretty, and that is okay. Remember, a job preview isn’t an ad. Having employees wax on about how wonderful it is to work at the company on a video or during a meet and greet, even if completely true, really isn’t helpful. The whole point of a job preview is to give a candidate an actual idea of the workday and environment. No job is perfect. Being honest about the challenges and issues with someone looking to work within – or head up – a work department or take on a role will only help that person get a clear picture of the position and environment to help him or decide if it is a fit.
What could Joe’s company have done to create an RJP for him prior to being offered the position?
Giving Joe a chance to peek behind the curtain would have been helpful in his decision-making process. Some ideas on how to do it in this case?
- A job description – first and foremost, sharing a well-written, honest job description is vitally important. The interviewing team could have allowed Joe to review it and ask questions, compare the experience requested to his or her own and get specifics on the day-to-day requirements of the position.
- A tour – A simple tour would have allowed him to view the working environment and decide whether he would feel comfortable in an open working space. It isn’t for everyone, and not having an office where he can free himself from distractions may be not be his cup of tea.
- A meeting – After having Joe sign a confidentiality agreement, he could sit in on a few meetings to get an idea of what they would be like. Are they organized? Is there an agenda? Does everyone talk at once? Do people arrive late or not at all? Are they collaborative in nature?
- Employee interviews – Who are the colleagues Joe would most likely work with? Allow him to meet with them one on one to get the skinny on the day-to-day. Coach employees beforehand that the idea is to give Joe a clear picture of the job and company, but not be a place to list a litany of their work woes. Ask them instead to list positives, challenges and, if what they personally enjoy about the job in spite of the challenges or less than ideal conditions.
- Engagement prior to day one – sending John his onboarding schedule, identifying key resources, or assigning a “peer buddy” that will assist him through his initial training and work, all before day one, would help John to more accurately develop personal expectations and the expectations from the organization. Though you don’t want to engage candidates in work prior to day one, having these resources immediately at their fingertips give a sense of support and professionalism that wins trust and loyalty.
Again, the primary point of an RJP is to show, not tell. Telling a candidate that the company is an amazing place to work has little value without a visual. Putting the good, bad, and the ugly into an RJP will assist a candidate in making the important decision of perhaps leaving a current position to come and work with you without regrets.
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