Recruitment Transparency: Another Look at Realistic Job Previews

Organizations have a multitude of priorities to balance. However, the effort to strategically recruit and retain the best and the brightest remains a top concern. A business cannot move forward without the right people – and being sure the right people find the organization is a major step.

Transparency and talent
When considering workforce goals, any organization can positively impact recruitment efforts by embracing the concept of transparency. Transparency can affect the way your organization is perceived – by your employees  – and the surrounding external environment. Not unlike other key brand issues, an organization’s reputation in this arena is built through accepted behaviors and business practices. The process can help you attract and retain needed talent.

Transparency as the new normal
A by-product of the social media revolution and an over-riding emphasis upon sharing, transparency is evolving into the new normal. A clear marker concerning organizational culture, transparency is a “here to stay”, need to have corporate attribute. Bridging the transparency gap can help organizations attract future leaders and drive innovation forward. Businesses can begin addressing the issue with the very first contact points they have with candidates during recruitment.

Realistic Job Previews
Realistic Job Previews are not a particularly new concept (Premack & Wanous, 1985). However, RJPs have been well researched and fit perfectly into the evolving trend of transparency in the world of work.  They serve as a vehicle to accurately portray your organization and the job in question. RJPs exist in a number of forms, including printed materials or brochures, video, or in-person format. Whatever the form, RJPs should offer a snapshot of required tasks, responsibilities and potential cultural demands of the position in question. (See two excellent video RJP examples here and here.) In most cases, RJPs are utilized early in the recruitment process – but can be utilized at any stage of the process.

The benefits are there
Transparency can bring meaningful rewards on both sides of the recruitment equation. To begin, an RJP puts an applicant in a better position to make an informed decision about the job in question. Organizations share the potential benefits, including an opportunity to hire better suited applicants and the possibility of impacting early turnover.

The best RJPs offer enough useful information for applicants to appropriately self-select out of the recruitment process. This includes information on topics such as skills required for success, and “day in the life” issues such typical schedules. Other topics helpful in an RJP might include, ambient work environment, physical requirements and information about the culture of the organization.

What to consider when building an RJP:

  • Always portray jobs accurately. Discuss both the positives and the potential negatives of any position. This becomes even more crucial if a job attribute appears to be related to early turnover.
  • Discuss career paths.  No one should have to guess where their role might take them in the future. Be open concerning the possibilities and limitations related to potential career paths.
  • Touch upon unusual job characteristics. Include information on tasks or working conditions which may cause applicants to reconsider the role. Unusual physical or schedule requirements should be reviewed early in the process.
  • Reveal any possibility of relocation. If the natural progression of a role is to relocate frequently or during the first years of employment, share this with applicants.
  • Reveal travel requirements. Applicants need to be able to assess the real impact of travel on their lives. Never hold back information or adjust the estimate unrealistically.

Don’t sabotage your recruitment efforts before they start – begin your employee relationships with a healthy dose of honesty.


Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist. You can find her on Twitter and Linkedin.

2 thoughts on “Recruitment Transparency: Another Look at Realistic Job Previews

  1. Thanks for your comment, Nina. It is really a very simple concept that can make an important difference in the workplace. Without accurate information from the organization – candidates cannot make informed decisions concerning jobs and careers.

  2. Marla, thank you for this informative article! As a prior case manager with 200+ unemployed folks on my caseload, I can’t begin to tell you how many of them have lamented to me regarding this very topic! They have voiced frustration to me regarding the lack of transparency revealed in the hiring process, hence, they and/or the employer subsequently discovered it was not a good employee/employer match. Thank you for shining a light on this important subject.

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