By The Duchess, 19th May 2015

The Lost Generation

Do Today's Youth Lack Basic Social Skills?

Do Today’s Youth Lack Basic Social Skills?

What has happened to our young people? I know that must make me sound really old, and as I utter the words a wave of goosebumps washes over me as I realise I am fast turning into my own mother. But seriously, what happened?

When I was younger (granted, I had a slightly different upbringing as a RAF Brat) most kids understood the meaning of respect. Most of us had Saturday jobs before we even turned 16 and not only did we earn our own pocket money, but we knew how to act in public.

My parents taught me from a very young age that a strong handshake would get you through any door. Putting your best foot forward and always looking your smartest meant that your first impressions would never fail. You could kick ass in this world if you abided by a few simple social rules and acceptable etiquettes.

Basic social skills have come under fire in the on countless occasions in the media. Apprentice star and Lord Alan Sugar’s right hand man, Nick Hewer, took to the news last year to defend comments made by Barclays Boss, Antony Jenkins. Jenkins believes that today’s youth are a ‘lost generation’ and lack the basic skills to succeed in life.

According to Nick, ‘today’s youth’ turn up to interviews totally unprepared and inappropriately dressed.

Surely he must be making this stuff up, right? You can’t honestly tell me that some straggly little oinks are turning up to a job interviews with bad language, bad manners and no social skills? Who the hell is guiding them through life? Is it really down to our meagerly paid teachers to spend yet more of their precious time teaching our future generations how to survive in this world? Should that not be the responsibility of parents and peers?

My father would have battered me black and blue if I had even considered leaving the house looking a mess just to go to the shops on a Saturday with friends, let alone a job interview!

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Robert Sheie
Robert Sheie

According to Barclays’ Mr Jenkins, his so-called ‘lost generation’ are turning up for interviews lacking such basics as simply maintaining eye contact.


Because I don’t know about the rest of the mothers out there, but when I talk to my kids, I am always saying ‘don’t be rude, look people in the eye when you are talking to them’ and my kids are 3 and 5! Surely by the age of 16/17 you should know that?

Bad manners and bad social skills will lead to you being unemployable and incredibly unhappy. These are problems that we need to be correcting in our children now, so that in the future, they will be in a stronger position to take on the real world and thrive in a business environment.

According to the latest reports, the number of jobless youngsters between the ages of 16-24 increased from 30,000 to 764,000 between September and November last year in the UK (2014).

That’s 734,000 more of our youth that are sat on the streets with nothing to do, nothing to keep them busy, and no way of earning money. And we wonder why crime is on the rise and anti-social behaviours are sucking in more and more of our innocent young kids!

But where does it start? Maybe Nick is right; maybe we need to be preparing them better to fight against the other thousands of youth that are looking for work.


So – if you have children, and you want them to excel in this world, it seems that re-teaching (or teaching) them the basic skills is the first step. With the below points being the main bugbear of today’s interviewers, I have put together a brief list of what is expected. Maybe it is up to us as parents to now check that our teenagers, or even our younger children, can fulfill these types of basic skills.

Top Interview Tips for Teenagers

I have to admit that some of these points feel a little like teaching Grandma to suck eggs, but even the simplest of rules are being broken nowadays!

1: First Impressions.

– Make sure that you are smartly dressed. No jeans and trainers where it is not appropriate. Smart black trousers and a smart shirt/blouse is basically the staple of each interview wardrobe.

– No trainers (in my opinion ever!) – smart dress shoes, polished and not falling apart – you would be surprised how much of an effect shoes can have on an interviewer.

– No chewing gum – that should just be obvious.

– Use a firm handshake, but not so strong that it drains the blood from the interviewer’s hand. Be confident with your shake, wet fish handshakes will stay with an interviewer long after you have left the room and not in a good way!

Hernán Piñera
Hernán Piñera

2: Arrive Early.

Never ever arrive late for an interview, and by late I mean aim to be there at least 5 to 10 minutes early! It shows that you are punctual and respectful of the time they are taking to interview you.

3: Switch off your mobile phone.

-You would think this is obvious, but you would be surprised as to how many people ‘take a call’ in the middle of an interview! Shocking!

-Do not sit there while you are waiting for the interview, posting updates on Facebook or taking ‘selfies in the waiting room. Switch off your phone and do not switch it back on until you have left the interview and the building. You don’t want to look easily distracted.

4: Bring your CV with you.

Even if you have emailed the CV to them beforehand, never assume the person you are meeting already has it. Take a copy with you. It will make you look organised and professional. Remember, your CV is not just a list of your previous jobs, even if this is your first interview, you can still make a note of your skills, assets and achievements.

Flazingo Photos
Flazingo Photos


Make sure you have spell checked your document. There is nothing worse than a sloppily written CV with bad spelling and grammar.

6: Remember your posture and body language.

Never slump in the chair. Sit up straight and focus ahead of you – don’t watch your feet, they won’t be the ones doing the talking. Keep eye contact with the interviewer and look interested in what they have to say. Keep your hands on your lap and try to show you are interested. Slouching shows complacency.

7: Let the interviewer talk.

He/She/They will ask the questions, that is their job. Your job is to listen and respond. Don’t be cheeky, don’t use bad language, remain professional and courteous. Do not over share. They will not be interested in what you watched on TV last night or where you are going for lunch. Answer only the questions you are asked.

In my opinion, most of these skills are those we teach our children on a daily basis. But if you have a teenager, and they are about to embark into the world of work, or even just look for a Saturday job, it might be time to sit down and have a chat with them. Prepare them for where they are headed for.

Don’t let them be one of The Lost Generation. Don’t allow them to sink into the ever-growing numbers of youth who find it impossible to find work and are stuck with the label of having poor social skills. At the end of the day preparing our children for the big wide world is our job as parents, not the job of teachers or even others in society, and if we can’t do this one task right then what are we doing?

We are the ones to blame for the decline of social etiquette in our society today, because if we don’t teach them young, then who will?

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