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Interviewing? Tell Your Gen Z Candidates to Leave Mom or Dad at Home

January 19, 2024

A recent survey conducted by Intelligent, an online magazine focusing on student life, revealed that some employers are open to offering older professionals enhanced benefits and higher salaries as an alternative to hiring recent college graduates. In what you’d think is satire, but is unbelievably true, is that according to the survey, 20% of recent college graduates brought a parent to an interview!

The survey, commissioned by Intelligent and conducted by Pollfish, gathered responses from 800 managers, directors, and executives involved in hiring processes in the United States during December.

According to the survey findings, 39% of the employers expressed a preference for hiring older job seekers over recent college graduates. This preference was attributed, in part, to the perception that young professionals often fail to make a positive first impression during job interviews.

More than half of the employers reported issues such as young recruits struggling to maintain eye contact, 50% encountering requests for unreasonable compensation, and almost half witnessing inappropriate attire choices by young job candidates. Furthermore, nearly 20% of employers noted instances where recent college graduates brought a parent to a job interview.

Among the employers favoring older job seekers, 60% indicated a willingness to provide additional benefits to attract them. Additionally, 59% expressed a readiness to offer higher salaries, 48% were open to remote or hybrid-working opportunities, and 46% were willing to hire overqualified candidates.

Additional survey highlights include:
  • Nearly two-thirds of employers agreed that recent college graduates are often perceived as “entitled.”
  • 58% believed they “get offended too easily.”
  • Nearly 60% of bosses considered it true that recent grads are unprepared for the workforce.
  • More than half of the respondents agreed that young professionals generally “don’t respond well to feedback” and possess “poor communication skills.”
  • 63% of employers who’ve worked with recent college graduates say they frequently can’t handle their workload.
  • 61% say they are frequently late to work.
  • 59% say they often miss deadlines and assignments.
  • 53% say they are frequently late to meetings.
  • 47% say they’ve fired a recent college graduate.

As the workforce sees an increasing influx of Gen Z members, concerns have been raised among employers about the younger generation’s ability to adapt to corporate life. But why? “Employers need to recognize that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people graduating from college had more than two years of disruption in their education as well as their social and professional development,” says Diane M. Gayeski, PhD, professor of strategic communications at Ithaca College. “Current seniors were in their freshman year at the height of COVID. They likely took classes online and were unable to participate in clubs, internships, or summer jobs.”

Employers should keep this in mind and consider a training or coaching program when hiring recent college graduates. It is also important to set clear rules and expectations for these new workers. “Gen Z hires need a lot of mentoring,” Gayeski says. “They may need very specific guidance about what to wear, how to write an appropriate business email, or how to speak up in a meeting.”

“These individuals value training and connections with fellow employees. They really want to do a good job and be valued. They also care very much about the values of an organization and its leaders, so if companies want to attract the top talent, they should be prepared to talk about more than just the job and making money.”



By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM-approved partner, ASE.

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