, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 253-268
Date: 02 Jun 2013

Tailoring Web-Based Recruiting Messages: Individual Differences in the Persuasiveness of Affective and Cognitive Messages

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This study investigated how message style tailoring (e.g., matching affect/cognition-based recruitment messages to participants’ need for cognition) predicts fit perceptions and organizational pursuit preference.


Undergraduates (n = 199) interacted with four recruitment websites describing job/organizational characteristics (e.g., pay, work environment). Two messages were affect-based (e.g., cheerful recruiter providing feeling inducing information) and two were cognition-based (e.g., formal recruiter providing factual-laden information).


Affective recruitment websites elicited greater fit perceptions and were selected by 62 % of participants as their most preferred organization to pursue. Moreover, message style tailoring was generally supported such that affective messages resulted in more positive outcomes for applicants lower versus higher in need for cognition and vice versa for cognitive messages.


Understanding how affective and cognitive recruitment messages and their interaction with an individual’s need for cognition (i.e., message style tailoring) helps to advance our knowledge of how to best design recruitment websites. We provide support for the positive impact of affective recruitment messages and the added utility of message style tailoring. Such knowledge may help to enhance recruitment website effectiveness by attracting a targeted type of job applicant.


This is one of the first studies in the recruitment domain to provide support for the effectiveness of message style tailoring on recruiting outcomes. Additionally, most studies tend to rely on one versus multiple actors or affective/cognitive scripts. Utilizing multiple scripts delivered by multiple actors was used to improve previous methodology and strengthen the causal nature of our findings.