Age Discrimination in the Evaluation of Job Applicants


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ben Richardson, School of Psychology, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia. E-mail:


This study investigated the nature of age discrimination against older job applicants. One hundred fifty-six participants (102 students; 54 organization based) evaluated a hypothetical job applicant's (aged 33–66 years) work-related competences and likelihood of being hired. Applicant age affected hiring decisions for both samples where there was a preference for hiring applicants aged 42–48 years. Applicants at both the older and younger ends of the continuum were less likely to be hired, with the oldest applicants (over 54 years) being the least likely to be hired. Although the applicants' age negatively affected evaluations of their trainability and sociability, the effect of applicant age on hiring evaluations was not mediated by these work-related competencies, suggesting that age discrimination occurs via direct bias against older workers.