Topic: Diversity, Recruiting
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (SEP 2009)
Article: Displaying employee testimonials on recruitment websites: Effects of communication media, employee race, and job seeker race on organizational attraction and information credibility
Authors: H.J. Walker, H.S. Field, W.F. Giles, A.A. Armenakis, & J.B. Bernerth
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
Employee testimonials can be found on many organizations’ recruitment websites. Unfortunately, there is relatively little research on how testimonials actually affect job seeker perceptions of the organization. It is assumed that employee testimonials are effective because job applicants prefer the input of other people (who are similar to them) and gives the organization a human persona. But many questions remain to be answered.
In a recent study, Walker and colleagues uncovered several important factors that influence the effectiveness of employee testimonials. The researchers used a sample of 546 management students (with roughly equal numbers of males and females as well as blacks and whites) preparing to look for employment.
First, Walker et al. found that in general, employee testimonials are effective at increasing job seekers’ attraction to the company and credibility ratings of the information presented on the company website. However, testimonials were more effective when they were presented orally (via video along with audio) on the website as opposed to text-based testimonials with pictures. In other words, job seekers appear to prefer richer media (i.e., video and audio).
Interestingly, Walker et al. found a complex relationship between the race of the persons delivering the testimonials and the race of the job seekers. Specifically, black job seekers tended to have higher perceptions of the organization (higher attractiveness and credibility) as the representation of black testimonial-providers increased. The opposite trend was found for white job seekers.
Though these findings generally support the use of employee testimonials on online recruitment websites, they also suggest that organizations should include a mix of racial backgrounds in order to attract job seekers from all target groups. Walker et al. specifically note that organizations should include between 25 and 75% racial minority representation in employee testimonials. This is an extremely important point for organizations that are interested in increasing the diversity of their workforces. Finally, it may be worth the extra dough to include video-based testimonials rather than relying solely on text and pictures.
Walker, H.J., Field, H.S., Giles, W.F., Armenakis, A.A., & Bernerth, J.B. (2009).
Displaying employee testimonials on recruitment websites: Effects of communication
media, employee race, and job seeker race on organizational attraction and information
credibility. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(5), 1354-1364.