Good Job Descriptions Make Good Hires Part 2

A Candidate’s Early Access to the Job Description Enhances the Hiring Process.

Don’t forget to re-read Part 1 of Good Job Descritpions Make Good Hires at

Picture this:  You have two candidates sitting in your waiting room.  One received the job description for the position he wants when he signed in at the front desk.  The second did not and is spending valuable time reviewing his or her resume hoping to answer your questions in a way that nets an offer of employment.

  • Which candidate do you think will make a better impression on you?
  • How much time do you think you will spend in with each candidate?

The candidate should be presented with the job description at the earliest possible opportunity.  In my opinion, you should introduce yourself and the job at the same time.

Some employers may choose to send the description to the employee in advance of the interview.  If not, allow the candidate to review the job description as they wait for the interview.  If, to preserve confidentiality of proprietary information, your company chooses not share the job description in advance of the interview, you can still show the job description to the candidate at the interview itself.  Just remember to retrieve the description from the candidate before they leave.

In any event, allowing the employee the time to carefully review your description prior to the first meeting serves three purposes.

  1. The candidate may decide not to schedule or go through with an interview.  They may decide, for instance, that the hours are wrong for them or that they cannot physically perform the essential functions of the position – even with reasonable accommodation.
  2. The candidate who has an understanding of the job basics or can jot down more informed questions prior to the start of the interview.
  3. The candidate can use the job description to decide if the position is really what they want.  The candidate could be entirely qualified – or even overqualified – but if given early access to the job description, they may be able to determine whether this is a job they actually want or a company they really want to work for; i.e., “They really expect me to travel X number of days a month?” or “Oh, gosh.  Typing is considered an essential function.  I hate typing.”

While trying to find the perfect candidate for the job, the company must not forget that the candidate is equally focused on finding a job that is perfect for them.  Just filling the position without a mutual commitment to the job, can lead to expensive and wasteful turnover in the position – and even employment lawsuits.

Tune in later for a discussion of what constitutes an essential functions (including where and why they should be set out in a job description) and the inclusion of a physical activities checklist in a great job description.

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Mary Wright

Mary Wright is the Founding Editor of HR Gazette, an online magazine for HR professionals and employment lawyers. She is an employment lawyer with 25+ years' experience in helping employers reach workable business solutions to complex human resource problems. She is currently a Shareholder with Ogletree Deakins and the firm's former General Counsel. Connect with Mary.

Reader Interactions


  1. Rory Trotter says

    Great post, Mary.

    In addition to presenting the job description too late, many employers also fair to write descriptions that accurately reflect the job (which can often result in hiring the wrong candidate if for no other reason than because the write candidate’s aren’t applying).

    Thanks for the share. Good insights.



    • Mary Wright says

      Good point, Rory. An inaccurate job description is worse than no job description. Not only does it fail to attract the right candidate, it is useless as a tool for setting performance expectations — not to mention the stumbling block it creates to an employer’s ability to accommodate a disabled employee. And Rory, thanks for the Tweets!



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