Examining Applicant Online Recruitment: The Use of Fictitious Websites in Experimental Studies


Advancements in technology enable hospitality organizations to rely on digital recruitment efforts such as websites to attract applicants. Reflecting this industry trend, a small, but growing body of literature from the hospitality industry examines how applicants react to online recruiting using fictitious websites of hypothetical companies in experiments. The purpose of this article is to validate the use of fictitious websites as an experimental data collection method. Two quasi-experiments were guided by theories and model of applicant perceptions of fit and organizational attraction. Fit was manipulated by matching the career preference of active job seekers (e.g., a job seeker in the hotel sector) with a fictitious website (e.g., a hotel’s careers page) or not (control group). The results from the two quasi-experiments showed person–organization fit (Study 1) and person–job fit (Study 2) led to more organizational attraction under conditions of matches (e.g., a job seeker in the hotel sector evaluating a hotel’s careers page) than in the control groups. The findings of the two studies not only support the use of fictitious websites as a viable data collection method but also open a new line of research for hospitality research and human resources. Future hospitality scholars can use this technique to manipulate organization’s human resource practices (e.g., recruitment, selection, training, performance evaluation, compensation, and benefits) and examine attitudes of individuals (e.g., applicants, employees, and managers). The current data collection method also allows for researchers to not only manipulate information but also maximize the realism of the experimental stimuli.


Hospitality Leadership

Document Type





applicant attitudes, experiments, organizational attraction, organizational fit, recruitment

Publication Date


Journal Title

Cornell Hospitality Quarterly