Original Research

The role of salient beliefs in graduates’ intention to apply

Samantha Adams, François de Kock
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 41, No 1 | a1223 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v41i1.1223 | © 2015 Samantha Adams, François de Kock | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 June 2014 | Published: 02 July 2015

About the author(s)

Samantha Adams, Department of Industrial Psychology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
François de Kock, School of Commerce, Faculty of Management Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Orientation: Organisations compete fiercely to recruit the best graduates, because they consider them a rich source of future talent. In the recruitment literature, it has become increasingly important to understand the factors that influence graduate applicant intentions.

Research purpose: Drawing on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), we tested a model proposing that applicant intention is a function of their attitude towards applying, beliefs about referent other’s expectations (subjective norms) and perceived behavioural control with respect to this behaviour.

Motivation for the study: The study was motivated by the need to shed light on graduate applicants’ decisions to apply to an organisation of their choice.

Research approach, design and method: The study used a quantitative design to test hypotheses that attitudes towards behaviour, norms and control beliefs would influence intention to apply. We surveyed prospective job seekers (N = 854) studying at a South African university about their beliefs regarding the job application process.

Main findings: Structural equation modelling showed reasonable fit of the proposed model to the survey data. Latent variable analysis demonstrated that perceived behavioural control and subjective norm explained intention to apply. With the combination of all three variables, only attitude towards applying did not play a significant role in the prediction of intention to apply, which is contrary to previous research.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings highlight the role of salient control beliefs in the application process. Efforts by universities and organisations to affect intentions to apply may potentially benefit from focusing on support services that could enhance feelings of control and minimise perceived obstacles. Recruiters could focus on control to increase potential recruitment pools.

Contribution/value-add: The study contributes to the recruitment literature in three ways. Firstly, TPB is shown to be a useful framework to explain graduate applicants’ intention to apply, as this theoretical model found empirical support. In doing so, the present study advances our understanding of how graduates’ intentions to apply are formed. Secondly, the results showed that applicants’ control and normative beliefs dominate when considering applying. Lastly, the study results open up interesting avenues for future research on applicant intentions.


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