Grounded in person–environment fit theory, this field experiment was designed to test the effects of job advertisements emphasizing information about demands–abilities (D–A) or needs–supplies (N–S) fit on the size and quality of the applicant pool. The wording used in 56 actual job ads was manipulated to emphasize D–A or N–S fit, and data were collected about application behavior and applicant quality based on ratings of the resumes submitted by 991 applicants. Other study hypotheses were tested using survey data collected from a subsample (n = 91).
Job ads emphasizing N–S fit, rather than D–A fit, elicited more applications (relative to job ad views) and a higher quality applicant pool. Analyses of survey data provided support for mediated and moderated effects that provide insight into how and for whom N–S fit information in job ads is ultimately linked to greater attraction.
The findings indicate that recruiting organizations can craft job ads to emphasize specific types of fit and favorably affect applicants’ perceived fit, attraction, and application behavior, as well as the quality of the applicant pool.
This study is one of only a few field experiments containing manipulations of the content of job ads in the recruitment literature. The distinction between two important fit constructs that have received surprisingly little empirical attention in recruitment contexts was found to have effects on application behavior and applicant quality—two critically important, yet rarely examined outcomes.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
We thank two anonymous reviewers for this observation.
The manipulation check item was worded such that lower scores reflected perceptions of a greater amount of D–A fit information in the job ads, and higher scores reflected a greater amount of N–S fit information. Thus, it was expected that the perceived amount of N–S information in the ads would correlate positively with perceived N–S fit, which it did (see Table 2). However, we expected that the amount of N–S information in the ads would correlate negatively with perceived D–A fit, yet there was a positive relationship (see Table 2), albeit a smaller one than with perceived N–S fit. Table 2 also shows that the two fit constructs are not orthogonal and high perceptions of fit in one domain will likely lead to higher perceptions of fit in the other area. These results suggest, there is a general fit factor underlying the domains of D–A and N–S fit. However, the D–A and N–S fit perception variables related to applicant attraction to different degrees (see Table 2) and to the fit information variable as discussed above, suggesting that these constructs capture unique aspects of fit and should be measured separately as suggested by the factor analytic results reported herein.
An anonymous reviewer suggested that we test the interaction between the manipulated fit emphasis and perceived marketability on applicant quality to examine a tacit assumption for Hypothesis 2. This interaction was not significant (β = .08, p = .654), which may be partially attributable to reduced statistical power resulting from testing an interaction with a binary fit emphasis manipulation in a relatively small subsample. As reported in the text, we conducted supplemental analysis using position type as a proxy for perceived marketability, which allowed us to take advantage of the greater statistical power afforded by the use of the full sample.
Athey, R. (2004). It’s 2008: Do you know where your talent is? New York, NY: Deloitte & Touche.
Barber, A. E. (1998). Recruiting employees: Individual and organizational perspectives. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.
Bartram, D. (2005). The Great Eight competencies: A criterion-centric approach to validation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1185–1203.
Beach, L. R., & Mitchell, T. R. (1996). Image theory, the unifying perspective. In L. R. Beach (Ed.), Decision making in the workplace: A unified perspective (pp. 1–20). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc.
Boudreau, J. W., & Rynes, S. L. (1985). Role of recruitment in staffing utility analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70, 354–366.
Breaugh, J. (2008). Employee recruitment: Current knowledge and important areas for future research. Human Resource Management Review, 18, 103–118.
Breaugh, J. A., & Starke, M. (2000). Research on employee recruitment: So many studies, so many remaining questions. Journal of Management, 26, 405–434.
Cable, D. M., & DeRue, D. S. (2002). The convergent and discriminant validity of subjective fit perceptions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 875–884.
Cable, D. M., & Judge, T. A. (1996). Person–organization fit, job choice decisions, and organizational entry. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 67, 294–311.
Carless, S. A. (2005). Person–job fit versus person–organization fit as predictors of organizational attraction and job acceptance intentions: A longitudinal study. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 78, 411–429.
Carlson, K. D., Connerly, M. L., & Mecham, R. L., I. I. I. (2002). Recruitment evaluation: The case for assessing the quality of applicants attracted. Personnel Psychology, 55, 461–490.
Chapman, D. S., & Borodenko, N. (2006). Targeting recruiting efforts at the individual, occupational and universal level. In C. Harold (Chair), The rules of attraction: What, when and why applicants choose. Symposium conducted at the 21st Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Dallas, TX.
Chapman, D. S., Uggerslev, K. L., Carroll, S. A., Piasentin, K. A., & Jones, D. A. (2005). Applicant attraction to organizations and job choice: A meta-analytic review of the correlates of recruiting outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 928–944.
Chapman, D. S., & Webster, J. (2006). Integrating applicant reactions into the critical contact framework of recruiting. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 17, 1032–1057.
Collins, C. J., & Han, J. (2004). Exploring applicant pool quantity and quality: The effects of early recruitment practice strategies, corporate advertising, and firm reputation. Personnel Psychology, 57, 685–717.
De Cooman, R., Stynen, D., Van den Broeck, A., Sels, L., & De Witte, H. (2013). How job characteristics relate to need satisfaction and autonomous motivation: Implications for work effort. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43, 1342–1352.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.
Dineen, B. R., & Noe, R. A. (2009). Effects of customization on application decisions and applicant pool characteristics in a web-based recruitment context. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 224–234.
Edwards, J. R. (1991). Person–job fit: A conceptual integration, literature review, and methodological critique. In C. L. Cooper & I. T Robertson (Eds.), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (vol. 6, pp. 283–357). Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16, 250–279.
Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical mediation analysis in the new millennium. Communication Monographs, 76, 408–420.
Highhouse, S., Beadle, D., Gallo, A., & Miller, L. (1998). Get ‘em while they last! Effects of scarcity information in job advertisements. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 28, 779–795.
Highhouse, S., & Hoffman, J. R. (2001). Organizational attraction and job choice. International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 16, 37–64.
Holland, J. L. (1985). Making vocational choices: A theory of careers (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Jones, D. A., Shultz, J. W., & Chapman, D. S. (2006). Recruiting through job advertisements: The effects of cognitive elaboration on decision making. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 14, 167–179.
Judge, T. A., & Cable, D. M. (1997). Applicant personality, organizational culture, and organization attraction. Personnel Psychology, 50, 359–394.
Kristof, A. L. (1996). Person–organizational fit: An integrative review of its conceptualizations, measurement, and implications. Personnel Psychology, 49, 1–49.
Kristof-Brown, A. (2000). Perceived applicant fit: Distinguishing between recruiters’ perceptions of person–job and person–organization fit. Personnel Psychology, 53, 643–671.
Kristof-Brown, A., & Guay, R. P. (2011). Person–environment fit. APA handbook of industrial and organizational psychology, Vol 3: Maintaining, expanding, and contracting the organization (pp. 3–50). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, US.
Kristof-Brown, A. L., Zimmerman, R. D., & Johnson, E. C. (2005). Consequences of individuals’ fit at work: A meta-analysis of person–job, person–organization, person–group, and person–supervisor fit. Personnel Psychology, 58, 281–342.
Lauver, K. J., & Kristof-Brown, A. (2001). Distinguishing between employees’ perceptions of person–job and person–organization fit. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59, 454–470.
Lievens, F., & Highhouse, S. (2003). The relation of instrumental and symbolic attributes to a company’s attractiveness as an employer. Personnel Psychology, 56, 75–102.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 123–205). New York, NY: Academic Press.
Piasentin, K. A., & Chapman, D. S. (2006). Subjective person–organization fit: Bridging the gap between conceptualization and measurement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69, 202–221.
Ployhart, R. E. (2006). Staffing in the 21st century: New challenges and strategic opportunities. Journal of Management, 32, 868–897.
Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 36, 717–731.
Preacher, K. J., Rucker, D. D., & Hayes, A. F. (2007). Addressing moderated mediation hypotheses: Theory, methods, and prescriptions. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 42, 185–227.
Resick, C. J., Baltes, B. B., & Shantz, C. W. (2007). Person–organization fit and work-related attitudes and decisions: Examining interactive effects with job fit and conscientiousness. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1446–1455.
Rhoades, L., & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizational support: A review of the literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 698–714.
Ryan, G., Gubern, M., & Rodriguez, I. (2000). Recruitment advertising: The marketing–human resource interface. International Advances in Economic Research, 6, 354–364.
Rynes, S. L. (1991). Recruitment, job choice, and post-hire consequences: A call for new research directions. In M. D. Dunnette & L. M. Hough (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 399–444). Paolo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Saks, A. M., & Ashforth, B. E. (1997). A longitudinal investigation of the relationships between job information sources, applicant perceptions of fit, and work outcomes. Personnel Psychology, 50, 395–426.
Schneider, B. (1987). The people make the place. Personnel Psychology, 40, 437–453.
Schneider, B., Goldstein, H. W., & Smith, D. B. (1995). The ASA framework: An update. Personnel Psychology, 48, 747–773.
Slaughter, J. E., & Greguras, G. J. (2009). Initial attraction to organizations: The influence of trait inferences. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 17, 1–18.
Spence, A. M. (1973). Job market signaling. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 87, 355–374.
Super, D. E. (1990). A life-span, life-space approach to career development. In D. Brown, L. Brooks, et al. (Eds.), Career choice and development (pp. 197–261). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Tangirala, S., & Alge, B. J. (2006). Reactions to unfair events in computer-mediated groups: A test of uncertainty management theory. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 100, 1–20.
Tom, V. R. (1971). The role of personality and organizational images in the recruiting process. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 6, 573–592.
Turban, D. B., & Cable, D. M. (2003). Firm reputation and applicant pool characteristics. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 733–751.
Van den Broeck, A., Vansteenkiste, M., De Witte, H., & Lens, W. (2008). Explaining the relationships between job characteristics, burnout, and engagement: The role of basic psychological need satisfaction. Work and Stress, 22, 277–294.
Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., de Witte, S., de Witte, H., & Deci, E. L. (2004). The ‘why’ and ‘why not’ of job search behavior: Their relation to searching, unemployment experience, and well-being. European Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 345–363.
Viswesvaran, C., Ones, D. S., & Schmidt, F. L. (1996). Comparative analysis of the reliability of job performance ratings. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 557–574.
About this article
Cite this article
Schmidt, J.A., Chapman, D.S. & Jones, D.A. Does Emphasizing Different Types of Person–Environment Fit in Online Job Ads Influence Application Behavior and Applicant Quality? Evidence from a Field Experiment. J Bus Psychol 30, 267–282 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9353-x
- Job advertisement
- Person–environment fit
- Person–job fit