Job Shadowing

Job Shadowing Definition

Job Shadowing refers to a particular type of on-the-job employee training program in which the prospective employee, either new or existing who intends to develop expertise in a different job, observes the operating activities of a seasoned and experienced employee. It is a very effective form of professional training for certain job profiles.

How does it Work?

Job Shadowing

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The process of job shadowing is more or less similar across its different forms with some subtle variations, as explained below:

  1. Observation: In this case, the visitor (person performing job shadowing) will observe the mentor perform the day to day activities, which may include attending meetings, interacting with clients etc. Typically, it is a representation of what the mentor does as an employee daily. This is most useful when the visitor wants to gain a deeper understanding of what the subject job profile entails.
  2. Regular Briefing: In this case, the visitor follows the mentor over a specific period of time for some particular activities, which are usually preceded by a small briefing and followed up by debriefing. This type of job shadowing is most useful when the visitor and the mentor work in proximity such that the mentor can inform the visitor about the schedule of the specific activities that are of value to the subject job profile.
  3. Hands-On: This type of job shadowing is a mere extension of the observation model, where the visitor is allowed to carry out some of the tasks that they observe. In this way, the visitor gets the hands-on experience of the role while protected by the close supervision of the mentor.


The main purpose of job shadowing is to help students, interns or employees who are interested in a job profile in which they don’t have any experience. It provides them much deeper insight about the job such that they can get a feel of the ins and outs of the profile. Basically, they can understand whether or not they can fit in the shoe of the person whom they are shadowing.

Who Takes Part in Job Shadowing?

Although interns usually take part in job shadowing, the process is most effective when an organization is in the process of onboarding new employees or when existing employees wish to learn about other jobs in the organization. Nevertheless, it can’t be denied that it an essential part of any interns’ professional experience as they seek the opportunity to learn about a range of jobs within a company during their internship stint.

Preparing for Job Shadowing

  1. Be Prepared to Ask Lots of Questions: The first thing that one should do to learn about something is to ask as many questions as possible about it, even if they sound stupid, and job shadowing is no different. If unable to ask the questions at the time of observation, then note them down and ask later.
  2. Dress Professionally: It is better to wear formal clothes that are best suited for the job role. Please note that the dressing sense can be a reflection of your conviction for the job role and an indicator to the mentor.
  3. Carry a Notepad: Always carry something for taking notes or noting down questions that are parked for later. A notepad indicates the willingness of the visitor and creates a positive impression.


  • Don’t feel stressed out at first as the information will take some time to sink in.
  • Don’t get frustrated if the mentor avoids certain questions owing to data privacy.
  • Please do turn off the phone or put it on silent mode. This helps in avoiding distraction while showing respect and professionalism.

Benefits of Job Shadowing

  • It helps the candidates decide whether or not the job role is suited for them.
  • It instils certain core values in the students that can help them in their professional journey.
  • The interns can realize how classroom learning translates into a professional environment.
  • It emphasizes the reality of job roles and helps the students understand why some jobs pay higher than the others.


  • If the observer lacks specific knowledge about the job, then there is a chance that he/ she will lag during the course of the internship.
  • In some cases, the mentor may find it difficult to share all the information with the newly introduced observer as most of it may be sensitive in nature.
  • In the initial stage, the observer may be required to put in long working hours to gain understanding about the work.

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