The Importance of the Preapplication Stage

Because candidates begin to form opinions about an organization well before they fill out applications on its website, companies that want to develop a great candidate experience need to build a better preapplication stage. The power of first impressions is well established: when someone encounters a new person, his or her brain immediately begins collecting information, parsing that data, and making judgments based on it. This happens not only in in-person meetings but also in online interactions with people, with brands—and with companies.

When people meet for the first time, they “automatically attend to and parse relevant information about somebody based on how important they are to [their] own motivations.” When candidates first approach an organization, they immediately begin forming an opinion about it based on one clear motivation: their desire to work there.

Therefore, the organization’s value to those candidates is proportional to how much it can help them. If candidates perceive the organization’s application process as difficult to navigate, their estimation of the organization begins to decline. But if, on the other hand, candidates perceive the organization as helpful and friendly, their initial estimates of the company are more likely to be positive.

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