How to Improve Websites Used to Recruit Applicants

Topic(s): recruiting
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (2013)
Article: Reactions to recruitment web sites: Visual and verbal attention, attraction, and intentions to pursue employment
Authors: D.G. Allen, J.E. Biggane, M. Pitts, R. Otondo, J. Van Scotter
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

If you’ve looked for a new job, there’s a good chance that you checked out a company’s website to learn more about open positions. Did aspects of the site affect your reactions to the company and your likelihood of applying? According to recent research, they probably did.


To best understand applicant reactions to recruitment websites, the researchers used a combination of methods, utilizing eye-tracking software and surveys as well as having participants explain their thoughts while viewing the websites. Participants paid more attention to information when presented as hyperlinks on text than when it was presented as part of graphics or navigation tools. Content, site design, and communication features (especially the extent of interpersonal involvement of the user with the website, which the researchers called parasocial interaction) were all important.


The researchers had a number of recommendations based on their findings. Providing lots of information in pretty graphics may not be necessary, as job seekers will likely be looking for content found in text and hyperlinked information. Organizations need to make information about the job opening, the organization, and geographic location obvious and easily accessible. Finally, organizations need to pay attention not only to the information they provide and the quality of the website design, but also to communication features. The information provided needs to be useful and straightforward, and interactions need to be more personable and social.


Allen, D. G., Biggane, J. E., Pitts, M., Otondo, R., & Van Scotter, J. (2013). Reactions to recruitment web sites: Visual and verbal attention, attraction, and intentions to pursue employment. Journal of Business and Psychology, 28, 263–285.