Intergenerational recruiting: the impact of sales job candidate perception of interviewer age Article (Web of Science)


  • Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine the effects from perceptions of age disadvantageness when job candidates are interviewing with recruiters from different age groups. More specifically, the authors examine the issues of intergenerational recruiting through the lens of social identity theory (SIT) and relational demography. Using these theoretical underpinnings, problems that result from dissatisfaction with between group inequities in the recruiting process are explored. Design/methodology/approach – Using these theoretical underpinnings, problems that result from dissatisfaction with between group inequities in the recruiting process are explored. Results from a survey of 176 undergraduate students actively pursuing sales positions provide evidence that candidate perceptions are influenced by age of the interviewer. Findings – The results support that sales job candidates do indeed feel disadvantaged when interviewed by older recruiters. Compared to interviewers from a more similar age in-group interviewer, the respondents felt a greater difficulty in establishing commonality and credibility and they felt the need to establish dependability, demonstrate professionalism, energy, and enthusiasm with an older out-group interviewer. Interestingly, sales job candidates did not feel lower levels of job confidence relative to the age-group of the interviewer. Research limitations/implications – The study reflects the perceptions of sales job applicants sampled from only two universities in the same region of the USA. Generalizations outside of this job applicant population (i.e. major and geography) cannot be made based on this limited group of respondents. Additionally, outcomes were not explored in this paper, so there is no way to know with certainty that these feelings of disadvantageness translate to concrete differences in results, such as lower job acceptance. Practical implications – From a recruiting/hiring managers’ perspective, they should be mindful that younger sales job candidates may feel uncomfortable or disadvantaged relative to age/generational differences. This could potentially even impact a recruit's desire to consider a company and accept a job offer, based on perceived organizational cultural differences. Educators need to prepare college students for the interview process. They should make students aware that they may feel the need to compensate for feelings that stem from intergeneration differences. Originality/value – From a theory perspective, the study applies the SIT to a human resource and recruiting context to better understand possible recruiting barriers that may be particularly relevant in today's changing recruitment environment. This represents one of only a few empirical research efforts that has attempted to explain intergenerational recruiting issues relative to SIT. In addition to the use of SIT and relational demography, this paper introduces a unique context.


  • Pullins, Ellen M
  • Allen, Concha
  • Schetzsle, Stacey
  • L. Mallin, Michael
  • Bolman Pullins, Ellen

publication date

  • 2014

published in

number of pages

  • 17

start page

  • 146

end page

  • 163


  • 29


  • 2