Deep-Level and Surface-Level Individual Differences and Applicant Attraction to Organizations: A Meta-Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Vocational Behavior




Given the importance of individual differences in the study of applicant attraction to organizations, we conducted a metaanalysis to assess the relationship between both applicant deep-level characteristics (e.g., applicant ability, personality, and experience) and surface-level characteristics (e.g., race, gender, and age) with applicant attraction. Results of our review of over 1700 articles (of which, 85 provided relevant data for our analysis) indicated that several relevant applicant individual differences are related to applicant attraction, independent of organizational influences. Stronger effect sizes were found for applicant deep-level characteristics (versus surface level) as well as field studies (versus lab studies). Extraversion and conscientiousness had the strongest positive relationships with applicant attraction, while applicant grade point average, as an indicator of ability, had the strongest negative relationship. The significance of these findings, including implications for applicants and organizations, is discussed.