Virtual interviews and LinkedIn's Influence on HR Managers' Hiring Decisions — Photo by
Graphic Abstract of How a Job Candidate's 1st Virtual Interview Performance & His/Her LinkedIn Profile Affect HR Managers' Hiring Decisions — Photo by The author

Technology-mediated interviews (TMIs), such as videoconferencing and asynchronous interviews, can help both companies and job applicants save time and money in the selection process. The social distance mandates and people’s concerns about the widespread coronavirus during the pandemic have accelerated TMIs’ adoption. While the global economy is getting out of the pandemic, TMIs will likely stay, especially during the initial screening stage, as more companies want to embrace the four-day work week and the remote work trends.

Besides TMIs, more HR managers use job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles to access their qualifications and overall organization fit. It becomes prudent for hiring managers and job seekers to understand how job candidates’ TMI performance and LinkedIn profiles might jointly affect HR managers’ hiring decisions in the real world.

The research

Accordingly, I worked on a project with R.L. Fernando Garcia at SM Hotels and Conventions Corporation in the Philippines and Dr. Yung-Kuei Huang at National Ilan University in Taiwan. We published our work in Tourism Management, answering two research questions:

RQ1: How do HR managers’ assessments of a job candidate in the first TMI affect their hiring decisions?

RQ2: To what extent do job candidates’ attributes on LinkedIn affect HR managers’ hiring decisions?

The method

We collected the field data from 44 HR managers in a hospitality/real estate firm, who evaluated 400 job candidates’ TMI performance and their LinkedIn profiles in two different timeframes. In Time 1, the HR managers rated their likelihood of advancing a candidate to the next round of interviews immediately after they assessed his/her TMI performance. In Time 2, the HR managers went on to evaluate the job candidate’s LinkedIn profile (unless it did not exist) and rated once again their likelihood of advancing the candidate to the next round of interviews.

The results

Out of the 400 job candidates, only 340 had a LinkedIn profile. Through a series of statistical analyses (exploratory factor analysis and regression analyses), we found that before the HR managers evaluated job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles (Time 1):

  1. Applicants’ virtual presence in TMI was negatively related to hiring decisions.
  2. Applicants’ leadership potential and interpersonal competence were positively associated with hiring decisions.
  3. The positive relationship (influence) between leadership potential and hiring decisions was stronger for those with a better virtual presence than those with a poorer virtual presence.
  4. The positive relationship (influence) between interpersonal competence and hiring decisions was weaker for those with a better virtual presence than those with a poorer virtual presence.

After the HR managers evaluated job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles (Time 2):

  1. HR managers’ hiring decisions became more favorable for candidates with a LinkedIn profile (vs. those who do not).
  2. Having more spelling/grammatical mistakes buffered the positive effect of hiring decisions in Time 1 on hiring decisions in Time 2.
  3. We calculated the overall assessment score for a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile, including job relevance (the extent to which information presented in an applicant’s LinkedIn profile is relevant to the applied job), completeness (the extent to whether an applicant has a completed LinkedIn profile), and information consistency (to indicate the extent to which information shown in an applicant’s LinkedIn profiles support his/her words during TMIs). A favorable overall LinkedIn assessment enhanced the positive effect of hiring decisions in Time 1 on hiring decisions in Time 2.

The practical implications

Recommendations for HR managers

  • Add “information consistent” to their LinkedIn assessment rubrics, besides “spelling and grammar errors,” “completeness,” and “relevance.”
  • Be more cautious about the negative impacts of a candidate’s virtual presence on TMIs.
  • Combine TMIs and face-to-face interviews to assess a job candidate’s interpersonal competence.
  • Use LinkedIn as an alternative and quick method for background checks.

Suggestions for jobseekers

  • Invest in their physical appearance in front of a camera but not to the extent that HR managers doubt their authenticity.
  • Demonstrate their interpersonal competencies and leadership potential with real examples from their past experience.
  • Ensure their LinkedIn profiles are completed and free of spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Use LinkedIn profiles to showcase the evidence that supports their words during interviews.
  • Highlight the competencies and job experience relevant to the applied positions on LinkedIn.

The conclusion

This study answered the research questions using the data collected from real HR managers and job candidates. Referring to your company’s HR practices or your personal experience either as an HR manager or a job applicant, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the above research findings? For what reasons?

Linchi Kwok
Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly Pomona
CAL Poly Pomona