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Managers’ interview invitation decisions about older job applicants: human capital, economic conditions and job demands

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2016

Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands. University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Management, Warrington College of Business Administration, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.
Utrecht University School of Economics, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
Department of Management, Warrington College of Business Administration, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.
Address for correspondence: Jaap Oude Mulders, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, Lange Houtstraat 19, 2511 CV, The Hague, The Netherlands E-mail:


Older job applicants are vulnerable to stereotype-related bias in the recruitment process. In the current study, we examined how managers’ job interview invitation decisions regarding older job applicants are influenced by applicants’ human capital-related characteristics, general economic conditions and managers’ perceptions of changes in organisational job demands. Data were collected in two waves of a vignette experiment, three years apart, among a sample of 211 Dutch managers from various organisations. Multi-level analysis showed that managers were more likely to invite older job applicants who had matching qualifications, were employed at the time of application and came with recommendations. In addition, managers’ propensity to invite older job applicants was higher in better economic conditions. The effects of recommendations were moderated by the general economic conditions and changes in organisational job demands, such that a recommendation from another employer was especially influential in bad economic conditions, while a recommendation from an internal employee was especially influential when job demands had increased. The results emphasise the importance of considering the organisational and economic context in understanding the recruitment of older workers. The findings also suggest that older workers, employers and policy makers should invest in older workers’ human capital to protect their employability.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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