Enhancing the Online Applicant Experience: Shaping Perceptions and Behavior in Online Recruitment

Key Points:

  1. Applicant experience seems to be linked to how applicants perceive the organization or whether they finish their application or not.
  2. Applicant experience’s correlation with perception and behavior do not seem to vary based on gender and sex. There are no differences between males and females and various age groups.

Nowadays, many companies use technology to hire people, and online recruitment is becoming popular because it’s cheap, easy to reach many people, and fast. On top of that It’s not just convenient for organizations but for job seekers as well. However, what about the experience that a job applicant has? Will job seekers finish their applications if it’s easy or hard to apply? Will everyone have the same opinion based on their experience?

These are precisely the sorts of questions that Mooney (2020) was considering when he performed two meta-analyses in the same journal article examining how candidate experience may be associated with perceptions about the organizations that they’re applying to and how this, in-turn, may associate with the candidate behavior. Mooney’s first meta-analysis included the data of 8 studies and 3448 individuals and revealed a positive effect of applicant experience on applicant perception of the organization with a medium to large effect size.Mooney’s second meta-analysis included data from 6 studies and 1274 individuals, and showed a positive effect of applicant experience on applicant behavior with a medium to large effect size.

The study showed that culture, justice and attractiveness wise job seekers are more likely to have a negative opinion of companies that offer a bad experience, and they are more likely to keep looking for jobs elsewhere. Based on these results, companies might want to make their online application process easier and more user-friendly to attract more applicants and make them have a better opinion of the company. Furthermore, no differences were found between different age groups and sex. Indicating that the results are more or less the same across different age groups and between males and females. 

However, the study only looked at a small number of people, so it’s hard to say for sure if this is true for everyone. Also, the study did not investigate all the ways that the applicant’s experience affected their behavior. Future studies could look at this more closely.

Take-aways for you and your practice

Based on this research, hiring managers and leaders can take the following practical recommendations:

  • Employ easier to use websites and web-based data collection tools in recruiting processes to increase the  number of applicants and thus increase talent pipeline.
  • Make your online application process easier to use and more user-friendly to make a better impression on job seekers and project a positive image.
  • Use more user-centric application software to reduce recruitment related costs and days to fill open positions and instead spend that budget on employees or the business.
  • Communicate with job seekers through emails and social media to keep them interested in the application process.
  • Use personalized communication to make job seekers feel more connected to the company.
  • Ask job seekers for feedback to improve the application process and make it more pleasant for everyone.

In Summary

The way a job applicant experiences the online application process can affect their opinion of the company and their behavior. By making the application process easier, communicating with job seekers, personalizing communication, and asking for feedback, companies can improve their image and attract more applicants.

Trustworthiness score:

The trustworthiness of the study is moderate (80%). This means there is a 20% chance that alternative explanations for the effect found are possible.

Learn how we critically appraise studies to assign them a Trustworthiness Score.

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Mooney, D. J. (2020). A Meta-Analysis of E-Recruitment Applicant Experience, Perception, and Behavior (Doctoral dissertation, Walden University).

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