Can We Generalize About Young Applicants?

I should first explain what I mean by the title of this tip.

To generalize means to make a general or broad statement inferred from specific cases.

And, for the purpose of this tip, let’s use the ages 18-25 to define what a young applicant is.

I imagine most, if not all of us, are interviewing these younger applicants. Can we, should we make any general conclusions about them?

In one respect, I’m thinking we should not make any general conclusions about this section of the workforce. Doing so might cause you to overlook or miss out on superb candidates.

But, from another respect, if we feel we have specialized information about this “applicant group,” it may help us as we navigate the hiring process with them.

Here’s what various studies have come up with:

• This age group wants the company’s purpose to align with their purpose. This could include how they feel about the environment and how they feel about various social issues.

• When they study the company online, they will likely look for how involved the company is in community activities.

• A healthy majority of them look to reviews about companies before they make a decision about a job offer.

• A good percentage want to work in small groups in an office environment.

• Despite being very savvy in digital technology, many prefer face-to-face contact with fellow employees than email or phone.

• They tend to be more creative and entrepreneurially oriented than previous generations.

So, that’s good data to know about this sector, right?

What else do we know about them?

Well, I’ve personally interviewed many business owners, CEOs and HR people over the last 13 years. A few recurring concerns have come up:

• In too many instances, a job was offered, but the applicant didn’t show up on the starting date AND did not notify anyone that they weren’t coming.

• Some feel entitled about how much money they should be paid right off the bat, without necessarily proving themselves. Or perhaps they felt deserving of a special schedule just for them.

• Some have made demands that they felt must be in place before they would give their approval to get started with you.

The overall information above about this 18-25 group is interesting and possibly helpful. But you should also be a healthy skeptic about this data. Knowing the above may make it easier for you to interview them, and you may not be as surprised by different things that come up in the interview. You may decide to be very proactive by ensuring your online reviews are monitored and responded to.

If you are likely to be hiring a good number from this age segment, perhaps you put some quality time into how your company can be more socially conscious and more involved in social activities.

But, in the end, you are interviewing the person in front of you. His “age group’s tendencies” are not something you should overly focus on. Every person is a unique individual. That person in front of you may be uniquely qualified to do what you want and may also be an excellent cultural fit for you.

After all is said and done, that’s what you’re looking for, right?




As the law varies in each area, please check with an attorney to ensure you are applying these tips within the law.




Watch our three minute video to see how we can help you hire the right people.

Scroll to Top