Realistic job preview
Realistic job previews (RJPs) are devices used in the early stages of personnel selection to provide potential applicants with information on both positive and negative aspects of the job (Premack & Wanous, 1985).
The employee exchange or psychological contract between employer and employee is at the heart of this concept (Shore & Tetrick, 1994). Being hired after use of the RJP, the employee enters into the contract with their eyes open, aware of what the organization will provide to them (pay, hours, schedule flexibility, culture, etc.) and also what will be expected from them (late hours, stress, customer interaction, high urgency, degree of physical risk, etc.).
High turnover of new hires can occur when they are unpleasantly surprised by an aspect of their job, especially if that aspect is especially important to them. For example, if they take the job with an understanding that they won't have to work weekends, then are immediately scheduled for Saturday night, it undermines trust and the psychological contract is breached. Better informed candidates who continue the application process are more likely to be a good fit with the position, and the ones who choose not to continue save themselves time pursuing a job or company that wasn't right for them. The hiring organization saves time on testing and interviewing only those candidates with a strong chance of success.
RJPs can take the form of videos (e.g., Home Depot; PetSmart), testimonials or short tests. Regardless of format, effective RJPs accurately foreshadow the culture that the candidate is signing up for. Other critical components include: Candor and openness; specificity (while avoiding a deluge of information); representative visual depictions of the work environment, preferably with the employee actually performing common tasks; testimonials from real employees, not actors. Ideally, RJP information should be focused on the things that matter most to the candidate demographic, parts of the job or culture that correlate with engagement and turnover.
Empirical research suggests a fairly small effect size, even for properly designed RJPs (d = .12), with estimates that they can improve job survival rates ranging from 3–10%. For large organizations in retail or transportation that do mass hiring and experience new hire turnover above 200% in a large population, a 3–10% difference can translate to significant monetary savings. Some experts (e.g., Roth; Martin, 1996) estimate that RJPs screen out between 15% and 36% of applicants.
According to researchers there are four issues that challenge RJP:
- Recruiters do not share RJPs during interviews. (Rynes, 1991)
- The nature of “realistic” information shared (in lab research or in the field) is unclear (Breaugh & Billings, 1988)
- Not asking the right questions.
- Applicants consistently report desiring more specific, job-relevant information than they commonly receive 
In addition to this there is a chance for realistic job preview to become more effective in order to eliminate turnovers. The presentation format and timing of the RJP can be improved whether the real information is provided early on or later in the recruitment factor. Consequently, more specific topic should be addressed and information sources used (e.g. job incumbent versus human resource staff person).
- (Barber & Roehling, 1993; Maurer, Howe, & Lee,1992)
- Breaugh, J.A. (1983). Realistic Job Previews: A Critical Appraisal and Future Research Directions. The Academy of Management Review. October, 8 (4): 612–619.
- Breaugh, J.A. and J.A. Billings (1988). “The Realistic Job Preview: Five Key Elements and their Importance for Research and Practice. Journal of Business and Psychology. Summer, 24:291–305.
- Landy & Conte (2007). Work in the 21st Century. Blackwell.
- Meglino, B.M., A.S. DeNisi, S.A. Youngblood, and K.J. Williams (1988). “Effects of Realistic Job Previews: A Comparison Using an Enhancement and a Reduction Preview.” Journal of Applied Psychology. 73 (2): 259–266.
- Premack, S.L. and J.P. Wanous (1985). A Meta-Analysis of Realistic Job Preview Experiments. Journal of Applied Psychology. 70 (4): 706–719.
- Roth and Roth (1995). Reduce turnover with realistic job previews. The CPA Journal.
- Shore and Tetrick (1994). The psychological contract as an explanatory framework in the employment relationship. Trends in organizational behavior, chapter 7, pp. 91–109. Edited by Cooper and Rousseau.