The realistic job preview (RJP), a new concept in recruiting and selection, is a method of communicating to an applicant or new employee what it will be like to actually perform a certain job. RJPs perform a valuable function in employee orientation, reducing reality shock and thus speeding the socialization process.
Realistic job previews can be developed in a number of ways. The most common method is to interview current employees, asking them to state actual experiences (good and bad), and attitudes toward the job. Another way is to film or videotape employees at work and ask them for comments. Information provided in an RJP should not be all positive; employees are encouraged to state some of their problems and frustrations. This information is presented to applicants or new employees verbally or in films, videotapes, or booklets.
Research shows that RJPs lower job expectations without completely “turning off” applicants to jobs. Additionally, RJP advocates argue that previews will create more positive job attitudes and contribute to reduced turnover. From a cost/benefit standpoint, it is advantageous for employers to provide applicants with realistic job previews as early in the employment process as possible. If applicants have a realistic perception of the job they are applying for, they are in a better position to determine if they are a good match for the job. An organization can save selection, hiring, and start-up costs if an applicant discovers that a poor match exists early in the process.
The currently limited use of RJPs in the recruiting and selection process stems from management’s concern that too many applicants will reject job offers if they are provided with a true picture of the job. However, empirical study found that realism of job previews did not “drive away” applicants or cause candidates to reject job offers. RJPs need not be used exclusively before hiring; using them after hiring, as part of the orientation process, provides benefits as well.