I was recently talking with my friend about a work situation she experienced. She’s a property manager of several condos as well as executive suites. As you would imagine, she has to do some marketing for the units to provide prospective tenants an idea of what to expect. Recently, she was trying to rent an executive suite. This kind of rental can be somewhat unique because oftentimes tenants may be remote and may not have the opportunity to tour the unit before showing up for the short-term lease.
In this particular situation, an agent, who was trying to find housing for an employee doing a sabbatical in the area, expressed interest in the unit. All the information from the advertisement on the rental site was provided and she talked to the agent about the unit. It seemed to be a good deal, until the employee showed up on his first day. He was very unhappy with the unit—the bed was too soft, it was not located near public transportation, and it didn’t have some of the amenities he was used to. My friend did what she could to allay his concerns, but he ultimately decided to find another place to stay.
How this relates to hiring
This is a very important lesson that we can also relate to selection. It’s critical to set expectations appropriately so job candidates have an idea of what the job and work environment is like. It’s best to provide job candidates a clear picture of what they can anticipate to determine whether the job and organization would be a good fit for them or not. Providing them this realistic job preview, or RJP, can reduce occurrences of hiring someone, only to find out that they are not happy with the job and ultimately leave the company. This type of turnover can cost the company a lot of money. According to the US Department of Labor and Statistics, the average cost of a poor hiring decision is 30% of the employee’s first year potential earnings. Of course, we’d want to eliminate this loss if we can.
The most important element of the RJP is to provide candidates with the highs and the lows of the job. The RJP should eliminate the element of surprise on the first day of work. The main goal of RJPs is to provide candidates the information they need to make a decision on whether they would be happy in the role. We’d much rather candidates withdraw from the process earlier so we do not invest a lot of time and resources in them.
We can uncover this information from the perspective of current employees during a job analysis. In particular, we can ask them about what they find most and least enjoyable about the job and working for the company. These factors might include benefits, pay, relationships with leadership and/or customers, work setting, and so forth. One important thing to consider is that what might be satisfying to one employee may be dissatisfying to another. For example, a job might require a lot of collaboration and interdependent work. For someone who really enjoys working with others, this would be satisfying. Alternatively, for someone who prefers working independently, this may be dissatisfying. Therefore, it’s important that you provide job candidates all the potential satisfying or dissatisfying elements of the job so they can determine whether it’s a “make or break” for them.
This type of information can be provided in multiple ways. You could even ask them multiple times to ensure that they fully understand the job factors and can envision themselves working in that environment. Here are a few ways you can consider including these factors in your hiring process:
Application questions: This is the most simplistic way to get this information. For example, you can ask the candidate whether they are willing to work 3rd shift, as required for the job. While very basic, it gives individuals a sense of what to expect.
Interview questions: Within the interview, you can actually ask about job factors they find satisfying or dissatisfying. You could even go so far as to ask them to comment on particular situations. For example, you can ask them past experiences they had in working on 3rd In this case, you can get an indication of how well they adapted to this schedule and whether they enjoyed it or not.
Assessment items: Within some of our assessments, we include job fit factors to get a sense for whether the candidate endorses factors relevant for the job. For example, we might assess how much autonomy candidates like. With this information, we can compare their endorsement to what the job offers.
Videos or Tours: The last way is to show candidates a video of employees on the job doing their work or actually provide them a tour of the facility. This would show the typical working environment and requirements for the role thereby providing candidates a much better feel of what to expect.
The hiring process is a two-way street. Not only do you want to gather information on the candidate’s skills and abilities, but you also want to provide information to the candidate about the job and organization. It will be a win-win situation when you find a qualified candidate and their expectations are aligned appropriately so there are no surprises in the end.