Evaluating Candidate Preferences in Job Search and Interview Practices

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Today, the job search activity is heavily concentrated to the virtual environment. The nearly ubiquitous proliferation of job boards, both general and niche, directly reflects on their prevalence among candidates. The question for today’s human resource departments is not whether or not to promote positions virtually. Rather, it’s selecting which online platforms will align best with their candidate pool requisites and how to round out the online experience of those candidates and enhance attraction.

To explore candidate online engagement preferences, ManpowerGroup Solutions Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) surveyed more than 200 job seekers about their use of and preferences regarding different social media platforms and online job resources while passively or actively searching for jobs. Additionally, respondents were also asked about their online interviewing experiences and preferences.

Post thorough tabulation and evaluation, the picture that emerged is one of connection and customization. When it comes to engaging prospective employees – One size does not fit all. Here’s a closer look at our Candidate Preferences in Job Search and Interview Practices Report that can aid companies to implement strategic business solutions and serve as an interview guide for employers:

Candidate Preferences For Job Search Platforms

Company Website

Throughout the research, respondents were asked about which sources they typically use to gather information about employers or positions while researching job opportunities online. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents (86 percent) cited employer websites as a primary resource.

In fact, when respondents were asked what feedback or information would be valuable to improve/enhance their job search, the top response (36 percent) was a need for clearer, more detailed information about the organization, the job opportunity, and related compensation. Candidates want to know more about an organization and other available roles before deciding to apply.

Since serious candidates are investigating the websites of the employers that they are interested in, organizations must approach website development strategically, review their current content from a candidate’s perspective and take a critical look at job descriptions.

Job Search Sites

Search engine results and peers came in second and third at 52 percent and 45 percent respectively when it comes to searching for job opportunities and employers online. Among online job search sites, Indeed, CareerBuilder and Monster were the top three for respondents’ use.

Social Media

While researching job opportunities, nearly a third of all respondents (30 percent) use social media networking to gather more information about the open position or organization. This speaks to the weight candidates place on professional introductions and to the importance of a strong and reputable employer brand. Three websites that stood out as most popular for this purpose: Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn –


More than 70 percent of all social media users have Facebook accounts – and use them to learn about organizations and available jobs. While Generation Y and Millennials have used Facebook profiles more for social purposes and are now using other social platforms more frequently, older generations are using Facebook to review comments about companies and discover new job openings. Nonetheless, if people are more advanced in their career levels, have been working at a company for more than 5 years, or are earning high incomes, they likely won’t be seeking job information on Facebook.


Nearly half of social media users (43 percent) have acquired information about jobs and employers through their Google+ accounts. A majority of these respondents use Twitter as well. Those who use Google+ as their job lead resource were not motivated by the compensation levels of the positions for which they applied.


The percentage of social media users who use LinkedIn to discover job openings or acquire information about employers of interest is virtually identical to Google+ users (43 percent). Like Google+, LinkedIn users were not overly motivated by jobs’ income levels either. At the same time, they often had Twitter accounts as well, which they used for job seeking purposes.

With regards to age and income level, professionals who were more advanced in their careers and consequently older in age and earning more often preferred LinkedIn over other social media platforms. One important callout in the findings related to active job seekers: Usage of LinkedIn and Instagram together is predictive of a person being more likely to be actively searching for a job.


As another popular website for survey respondents, Instagram is used by nearly 15 percent of the participants who research organizations and conduct job searches through social media networks. Of note, respondents who are most comfortable with video technology tend to use Instagram more often than those who aren’t. When candidates are actively applying for jobs, they also use LinkedIn and Instagram together.

To attract active job seekers, employers should consider asking their LinkedIn followers to also follow their Instagram profiles and vice versa as a means of increasing the awareness of their employers’ brands and available job opportunities.

Candidate Preferences For Interview Practices

The use of online tools has extended beyond job searches. Virtual job interviews have become commonplace in many industries. While they are often a more timely and cost-effective option for employers than in-person interviews, virtual interviews may sometimes prevent candidates from being at ease or presenting their talents in the best possible way.

In fact, when respondents were asked about which type of interview format they most preferred – telephone, video, live, etc. On average, they preferred the more traditional formats of in-person or telephone interviews to video conferencing.

The format most preferred was an in-person interview with the hiring manager, which collectively received a 4.4/5.0 with 5.0 being “completely comfortable.” In fact, 72% of respondents selected this option as their preferred format over all others. This finding held across all ages. Respondents with lower career levels or longer average job tenures were more likely to be most comfortable with this format as well.

Telephone Conference Interview

If a prospective employee is unable to participate in an in-person interview due to its distant location or other circumstances, he or she is comfortable having a telephone conference as an alternative. Averaging almost 4 on the scale of comfortability, telephone conference interviews were most preferred by respondents working on a part-time, contractual or temporary basis. Interestingly, younger, lower career level respondents were not very comfortable with telephone conferences.

Initial Phone Screening with the Recruiter

Respondents appeared to be comfortable with initial phone interviews as well, as the format averaged a 4 on the comfortability scale (1-5). Roughly 16% of respondents preferred this format to any other. Temporary employees, as well as respondents at lower career levels, were the most comfortable with this format.

Interview Via Video Conference Technology

Video conference technology has become a hot topic in HR departments. It can bring in cost savings, but candidate preference is very clear on this. While there is a general comfort level with the technology (rated at 3.3/5.0), respondents of all ages overwhelmingly stated their preference for in-person and telephone interviews. Respondents with more experience were found to have a greater comfort level with the video conferencing technology.

Additionally, there was a positive correlation between income levels and preferences for video interviews, as higher paid respondents were more comfortable with applications (like Skype) than lower income participants. The drive for higher compensation also impacted respondents’ willingness to experiment with more unique interview types, such as personal video introductions and video interviews, especially if respondents’ participation in these formats improved their likelihood of acquiring higher paid positions.


The content and functionality of company websites, career sites and social media platforms matter – nearly 70 percent candidates use them as a primary source of information about an employer’s firm. They represent the best opportunity to set the tone for the candidate experience.

By maximizing their presence and engagement on carefully selected social media platforms, employers can attract and engage the right candidates faster and more efficiently. High-touch and high-tech in recruiting go hand-in-hand. Technology is an important recruiting tool but employers shouldn’t overlook the value of personality and connection – they matter just as much, if not more.

Even as technology – and the awareness of new tools – continues to advance at a rapid pace, the tried, but true methods of in-person and phone interviews remain the clear preference for job seekers across generations. Organizations should evaluate their talent acquisition strategy and customize job seekers’ experiences based on their preferences. For a more comprehensive interview guide for employers that enables them to engage the right talent, consult our experts at Manpower today.

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