The temptation to make the job sound as good as possible to potential applicants is always there. Even if that means not being fully honest. When competition for talent heats up, that temptation intensifies. But giving in may backfire. According to Leadership IQ’s Global Talent Management Survey, up to 81 percent of new hires fail. One of the issues is the lack of motivation, which could stem from the lack of a realistic job preview, resulting in disappointment and poor performance.
Realistic job preview is defined as the presentation by an organization of both favorable and unfavorable job-related information to job candidates (Breaugh, 2013; Phillips, 1998). The “good” and the “bad.” However, this definition does not account for how different we are. In many cases, favorable and unfavorable are in the eye of the beholder.
Desirable job characteristics are in the eye of the beholder.
If the hiring manager cannot fathom that someone enjoys the routine, they may want to call the routine job “dynamic,” perhaps telling themselves that there are new things to do - occasionally. But a person attracted by the “dynamic” job will likely become disengaged from the routine reality and eventually quit, resulting in costly turnover (unless they also lied – but applicant misrepresentation is likely to go down in a more honest hiring environment). An honest approach would allow hiring a person who would thrive in a routine, predictable environment – a win-win for the organization and for the individual.
With the exception of a toxic physical or psychological environment - which should be addressed in ways other than misrepresenting the job to applicants – there is someone out there who will be a match for every type of task. Travel can be a negative to some people and a positive to others. The need to make independent decisions or to follow instructions, working with children or working with adults, multitasking or monotasking – are not universally pleasant or unpleasant. We simply need an honest match. Your well-matched talent will thank you - with extra productivity.
An inexpensive solution to the costly turnover problem.
Realistic job previews are inexpensive to implement and can result in significant savings via reduced turnover replacement hiring, increased performance, and better morale. The preview can come in the form of written materials (brochures, realistic job descriptions), videos, or personal conversations with current employees and work observations. All of these can be helpful, although the most active forms of communication, such as personal interaction, are most effective, and being realistic early in the process saves everyone time and effort.
Honesty truly is the best organizational policy. Ensuring honesty in all organizational processes, from hiring decisions to major change initiatives, brings substantial dividends. As Ron Carucci explains in his new book “To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice, and Purpose,” honesty in organizational processes is a foundation of fair behaviors on all levels. When a company’s vision is clear, and actions match its words, “people in the organization are three times more likely to tell the truth, act justly, and work purposefully” (p.43). And the best time to start building trust is before hiring.
Breaugh, J. A. (2013). Employee recruitment. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 389–416. https://doi-org.vanguard.idm.oclc.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143757
Carucci, R. (2021). To Be Honest: Lead with the Power of Truth, Justice, and Purpose. Kogan Page.
Phillips, J. M. (1998). Effects of Realistic Job Previews on Multiple Organizational Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Academy of Management Journal, 41(6), 673–690. https://doi-org.vanguard.idm.oclc.org/10.2307/256964