Problems with and Alternatives to Realistic Job Previews (RJPs)

Topic(s): recruiting, staffing

Topic: Recruiting, Staffing
Publication: Human Resource Management
Article: Realistic recruitment practices in organizations: The potential benefits of generalized expectancy calibration
Author: B.J. Morse, P.M. Popovich
Featured by: Benjamin Granger

Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) are commonly employed by organizations and are intended to provide recruits/job applicants with realistic (both positive and some negative) information about the job/organization. Ideally, RJPs should decrease the possibility of early turnover due to unmet expectations or shocks.

Despite their popularity, RJPs are not without critics. In a recent review, Morse and Popovich (2009) discussed several limitations of using RJPs as well as a description of a relatively new approach that attempts to overcome them: The Expectation Lowering Procedure  (ELP). The goal of the ELP is to bring recruit/applicants’ unrealistically high expectancies in line with reality. That is, they focus on the tendency of job applicants to develop unrealistically high expectancies prior to employment and eliminate the process of organizational self-derogation.

Morse and Popovich’s purpose was to summarize several arguments against the use of RJPs and discuss how ELPs address each issue.

1). RJPs may lead to Negative Attitudes. While RJPs purposefully present negative information about the job/org to applicants, ELPs are very general in nature and are not job/org specific. Thus, ELPs allow organizations to avoid “shooting itself in the foot” when recruiting top talent. More specifically, ELPs directly address the well known tendency of job applicants to have unrealistically high expectations prior to employment (regardless of the organization or job). All in all, ELPs are expected to lead to fewer negative attitudes toward the job/org.

2). High Cost of RJPs. Given the ever-changing nature of work, updating RJPs for various jobs can be time consuming and costly. According to Morse and Popovich, an ELP template can be created and used throughout an organization with little to no adjustments needed for specific jobs. Therefore, ELPs have a direct monetary advantage over RJPs.

3). RJPs don’t Focus on Applicant Expectancies   The ultimate goal of both RJPs and ELPs is to move job applicants’/recruits’ expectations in line with reality. RJPs attempt to accomplish this by pointing out positives and negatives of the specific job.  Thus, RJPs directly address discrepancies between job content expectations and realities. ELPs, on the other hand, explicitly address applicants’ unrealistically high expectations. Thus, ELPs more directly address the issue at hand (high applicant expectancies) than RJPs.

Although ELPs provide an exciting alternative to RJPs, research on ELPs is in its infancy. The limited research available, however, does support their use (e.g., ELPs do tend to reduce early turnover).  Despite the caveat above, ELPs have the potential to effectively address several limitations inherent  in employing RJPs. And importantly, ELPs have the potential to save organizations big bucks.

Morse, B.J., & Popovich, P.M. (2009). Realistic recruitment practices in organizations: The potential benefits of generalized expectancy calibration. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 1-8.