If your new job opening was a movie, a realistic job preview would be a trailer for that movie. Mastering this simple concept can save you precious time and money, all the while improving the candidate experience.
Today, we’re going to explore what a realistic job preview is, why it’s a great idea to use it, and look at 11 different ways to use RJPs in hiring.
TL;DR – Key Takeaways
- A realistic job preview (RJP) is a hiring tool that shows potential applicants a realistic picture of what they can expect if they are hired so they can get a better understanding of the role.
- There are six benefits to using realistic job previews: lower turnover, faster and cheaper hiring, lower risk of a bad hire, improved candidate experience, improved employer branding and more effective onboarding.
- There are some downsides to RJPs, too: not enough information for the candidates, expectations mismatch, lower number of applicants, not enough data to show the company’s value and culture, and it’s extra work for the hiring team.
- There are many types of realistic job previews, such as great job descriptions, skills assessments, different types of videos, podcasts, test days, and others.
- Using Toggl Hire is a simple way to create a realistic job preview and show the candidates exactly what they’re going to do if they get hired.
What is a realistic job preview (RJP)?
A realistic job preview is a hiring technique where the employer gives accurate information about a role – oftentimes covering both the positive and negative aspects. The main aim is to show candidates what the job is really about, helping employers to get a better hire, and employees to feel greater job satisfaction, staying longer in the role.
Realistic job preview is often used as an umbrella term for all the different ways and dozens of techniques to try to apply this concept while hiring, as we’ll show later. For example:
A candidate applying for the role of an account manager could watch an interview with another account manager, explaining a typical day at work.
A candidate applying for a project manager role could shadow an existing project manager in order to gain a comprehensive overview of the role, team, product, and company culture.
A candidate applying for a software developer position could be asked to complete a coding challenge or small project in order to gain hands-on experience about the company and job.
The purpose of a realistic job preview: 6 benefits to consider
By offering candidates a genuine glimpse into the role, you can enhance the alignment between job expectations and candidate skills, ultimately leading to better hiring decisions and improved employee satisfaction and retention.
Let’s take a closer look at the practical benefits and hiring metrics impacted by introducing an RJP in your recruitment process.
Lower employee turnover
When employees know what kind of job they are getting into, they’re going to have more realistic expectations from the very start. This results in higher job satisfaction and a lower chance of employee turnover.
Metrics impacted: employee turnover rate, employee retention rate
Faster and less expensive hiring process
Even though it may sound counterintuitive and like an extra step, an RJP can save time when filtering out candidates who may not be a good fit in the long run. You can get these insights relatively quickly instead of waiting months to find out.
Metrics impacted: time to hire, cost per hire
Reduced risk of a bad hire
A bad hire is bad news for both your company and the new hire. With an RJP, you give candidates a fuller picture of what they will be doing, so there is no risk of misalignment. Letting them know exactly what they will be doing reduces the chances of them leaving in a matter of weeks.
Metrics impacted: quality of hire, employee satisfaction and performance
Better candidate experience
Realistic job previews further enhance the candidate experience by providing early insight into the job’s nature and your company’s culture and values. This proactive approach allows candidates to swiftly grasp the role’s demands, creating a more informed and engaging experience that sets the foundation for a positive candidate journey.
Metrics impacted: candidate experience, applicant conversion rate
Elevated employer brand
Realistic job previews help make the hiring process more transparent. As your best candidates know what they can expect in a role, they get a full experience of your employer brand. Your candidates will feel more engaged, and there’s a high likelihood of them spreading the good word about you as an employer.
Metrics impacted: candidate engagement, offer acceptance rate
More effective employee onboarding
Employee onboarding can often extend over several months, but a realistic job preview significantly streamlines this process by equipping candidates with a comprehensive understanding of the role before their official start date.
They enter the organization already familiar with their responsibilities, team dynamics, management structure, and the tools they’ll be using, allowing them to hit the ground running seamlessly.
Metrics impacted: time to productivity, employee experience
Are there any downsides to using a realistic job preview?
Like most things in life, there can be pros and cons to using realistic job previews. Here are the ones you should be aware of before using this hiring tactic.
An RJP isn’t a substitute for the entire process of familiarizing candidates with your company and role. If done poorly or misinterpreted, it could lead to disappointment later on.
To address this issue, ensure the job description and requirements are accurate and detailed. Do not just “sell” the position, but also explain the downsides and challenges to keep the RJP realistic. And use it as just one element of a holistic hiring plan.
Mismatch in expectations
Sometimes, the RJP is an embellished view of the job through rose-colored glasses. The candidate can get overly excited about a realistic job preview that does not reflect the actual role.
To address this issue and maintain objectivity in the RJP, include examples, real-life situations, quotes, testimonials from the team, and real problems they could encounter in their day-to-day operations. Give candidates ample room to ask questions and engage with your team to get an accurate representation of the job.
After seeing the realistic job preview, some candidates may be put off. As a result, you can lose prospective applicants before they even send in their test or resume.
To address this issue, talk about the positive aspects of the role first. Show them what makes you stand out as an employer: the culture, the people, values, mission, and vision.
Not a good preview of the culture
While a realistic job preview captures the essence of the job, it does not always show what the culture is like and what it looks like to be a part of the team.
To address this issue, refer to the previous point and also consider introducing job shadowing or internships as a part of the realistic job preview. That way, the candidate gets immediate experience of the team dynamics rather than relying on your own accounts.
Creating a realistic job preview can add extra work to your hiring process. At the very least, you need to spend an extra few hours on this part of the application to ensure it’s attractive and accurate. You may lack the resources needed for this if you have a small hiring team (or don’t have one at all).
To address this issue, use the recruitment technology that you have available. Run video interviews with your team, provide virtual tours of your workspace, and give them written and video materials covering your mission and vision. Another innovative way to do this is with Toggl Hire skills assessments!
We have over 200 skills templates and 500 homework tasks you can choose from. Take these, personalize them, and add your own twist to highlight what it’s like to work at your company. You can also use Toggl Hire as a recruiting tool to record one video intro and show it to all applicants for a role. Save time and money, all the while improving the candidate experience.
4 elements to include in a realistic job preview
There are many different ways to create a realistic job preview, as we’ll explain briefly. Regardless of the method you choose, you should aim to cover the following 4 aspects.
#1 – Provide context
Include the information that applicants are unlikely to know or might have unrealistic expectations about. For example, if you run an agency and the new account manager is expected to cover 10 accounts – tell them.
#2 – Keep it candid
Show both the good and the bad. Hiring is like a dating game; the consequences can be just as ugly but even more expensive. Show off the good stuff, but don’t avoid showing some negatives. For example, don’t shy away from the truth; whether that’s a dated office or lots of travel, it’s best to be honest so they can make an informed decision.
#3 – Keep it balanced
If the job has a negative aspect, counter it with something positive. It’s not always what you say but how you say it. Articulate the silver lining. For example, the account manager may need to handle 10 accounts, but some of them include worldwide brands, e.g., Microsoft.
#4 – Paint the day-to-day picture
Explain exactly what someone would do at their job if they were hired. Avoid broad terminology like “Project management” and try instead something like “Communicating with clients on the progress of their work, setting up weekly calls, sending out reports every month, and maintaining email communication.”
11 effective types of realistic job previews + realistic job preview examples
1. Detailed job description
A realistic job preview always starts with the job description. Never copy and paste the descriptions you find online. Instead, think about what a candidate would do daily if hired.
the ideal skillset
the people they’ll work with
the tools they will be using
the long-term prospects for the role
Don’t forget to talk about the bad aspects, too: the challenges and downsides. You want the candidate to get an accurate idea about the job, not a fairytale that will have them disappointed on day one when they start.
2. A basic skills assessment
Skills assessments offer a win-win in recruitment. They reveal if the candidate possesses the essential skills for the job while providing an instant preview of the job’s reality. Candidates witness the direct correlation between the job ad and the actual tasks, aiding them in assessing their fit for success in the role. Crucially, it grants them insight into whether this job aligns with their personal preferences and ambitions.
3. Virtual office tour
A fun way to create a realistic job preview is to record your office and show the candidates what they can expect. You don’t need thousands of dollars in video equipment – simply grab your phone and give them a walkaround of the office.
Show them the environment, the coworkers, the atmosphere, and all the quirks and features they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. Focus on the unique aspects of your office that other employers may not necessarily have, e.g., a pool table in your relaxation area.
If you work remotely, simply ask your employees to record a few short clips of themselves and what they love about the company. Ask them a specific question they need to respond to, such as: “What do you find the most rewarding about working here?”
4. Video from the hiring manager
Most candidates would love to learn who their manager will be and what they are like before signing on. As a part of your job ad, give them a realistic job preview video from the hiring manager themself!
In the video, their potential manager can explain what the role entails, the expectations, what the team is like, and what they can look forward to.
This gives the job ad a much more personalized feel, and all it takes is for the hiring manager to record the video once, and you’re good to go. The candidate can check out the company culture and their boss without even going through an interview process!
Research shows that a hiring manager shooting a welcome video makes candidates 46% more likely to consider a role and 30% more likely to get back to a recruiter.
5. A-day-in-the-life employee videos
Besides the hiring manager, show the applicants a snapshot of what others in the company do. Ask your employees to shoot a video discussing what they do every day, including:
their daily tasks
things they do for fun
the way they communicate and collaborate with others
This gives applicants a chance to envision themselves in a role and get familiar with their future team.
6. Interviews with current employees
For new hires, getting to know their new peers is invaluable. Instead of showing it through a job description, let your employees tell their own story.
Conduct an interview, either in writing or through video. Ask your existing employees about the most valuable aspects of working in your company, about their thoughts on the company culture, the recruiting process, and more.
Here is an amazing example from Linearity, where they interviewed their graphic designer.
7. Employee testimonial videos
A testimonial is not the same as an interview, as it’s one-sided. A testimonial is an account of the employee talking about their experience with your company. It can be scripted, where you can give the employee guidelines on what to talk about.
Alternatively, let them take center stage and explain what they love about their jobs. This type of video job preview is authentic, raw, and immensely helpful for new hires.
A podcast is more than a marketing activity. It can also be used as a realistic job preview and a part of the hiring process. The format and length allow your current employees to talk about their day-to-day activities, the company culture, the positive and negative aspects of the actual job, and more.
Netflix has a fantastic podcast dedicated to hiring only. The WeAreNetflix podcast shows you the inside mechanisms of what happens behind the scenes in this global company, complete with employee interviews.
9. Job-specific skills assessment
A job-specific skills assessment is a way to test the employees’ skills with a task that is directly related to their future role. Think of hiring a product manager and giving them a task to do a competitor analysis about a certain product.
These assessments are ideal for a realistic job preview because of their practicality. Instead of made-up scenarios, they get a situation from an actual day at work. This way, they get first-hand experience about what it would be like to work with your business.
10. Job shadowing or short-term internships
Job shadowing means allowing candidates to “shadow” current employees as they do their jobs. There is no realistic job preview that is more hands-on than this one.
The downside? It’s not very easy to pull off and can be done with just a handful of your top candidates. It can also disrupt your day-to-day operations, so save it for the cream of the crop.
For example, the University of Bristol offers it as a part of its staff development program.
11. Paid test days or trial projects
A paid test day is precisely that – paying your absolute best candidates for their time and letting them work alongside you for a day or more. This way, they can experience what it’s really like to work in your company and interact with your team.
On the other hand, you can see how they communicate, think, and solve problems. You can quickly determine if they’re a good fit culturally, too. At Toggl Hire, we use this type of job preview for our top applicants.
You can also give them a paid trial project to work on. For example, if they’re applying for the designer role to complete a landing page or a banner. The important thing for the job candidates is that the task should be meaningful, timed, and paid.
Bring RJPs into your hiring process with Toggl Hire
A realistic job preview may seem like a lot of work. However, with a little bit of preparation and clever use of technology, you can prepare a realistic job preview within a single day. And we can help.
With Toggl Hire, explore our rich test library to find a variety of skills tests for different hard and soft skills. Grab our tests, personalize them to show what your specific job entails, and watch as the candidates flock in.
Sign up for free to get started today!
Juste loves investigating through writing. A copywriter by trade, she spent the last ten years in startups, telling stories and building marketing teams. She works at Toggl Hire and writes about how businesses can recruit really great people.