How to Interview Millennials

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Jul 5, 2019

Contrary to popular belief, millennials are more than just selfies and what’s-in-it-for-me. They are also among the most tech-savvy, agile, and socially conscious workers in the workforce today. Fair or not, the reputation they’ve built up has recruiters and hiring managers stumped when it comes to handling them.

Make sure you aren’t left guessing how to appeal to the best of millennials. Here are some tips on getting the most out of your interviews with them:

Tell Them What to Expect

While notorious for being know-it-alls, many will be relieved to get info on expectations for an upcoming interview. This could be as simple as including the dress code and expected interview duration in an email. You could also mention whether the interview will be with a panel or just one person.

For the millennial who is just entering the workforce, you may be their first or second interview in their new field of expertise. Make it easy for them to succeed to ensure a positive hiring experience.

Gauge Coachability

One of the toughest issues for companies is hiring someone who is unable to benefit from or apply feedback and advice. To weed out the un-coachable candidates early on, ask about a time they’ve doubted their ability to deliver on a task. This will force the candidate to describe a challenge and what they did to face it.

Their answer will reveal whether they resort to blaming others, crumble under pressure, or rise to the occasion and grow.

Rethink Experience-based Questions

It can be difficult to ask experience-based questions when a candidate has only two summer internships under their belt. If this is the case, zero in on extracurricular activities. Instead of asking how they handled a marketing campaign that netted a loss, ask them to tell you about a time their volleyball team lost a big game and how they coped with it.

Looking at and discussing a candidate’s extracurricular activities can also give you a more accurate glimpse into their personality and interests.

Speak Their Language

Job descriptions have been historically focused on the mechanics of the job itself. However, millennials are just as concerned with who they’re working for and how their role fits into the team. In the interview, make sure to describe the company’s goals and how the candidate’s work will fit into that picture.

Additionally, cash is not king for this generation. They are equally, if not more, interested in growth opportunities than their exact salary. So make sure to talk about professional development opportunities (if any) as well as potential paths for advancement in the company.

Look at the Big Picture

Sometimes, managers are so focused on what they need right now that they completely overlook potential in front of them. You need employees who can get the job done and get it done fast. But if you are looking to check every must-have item on your list, you may just miss out on the biggest must-have of all: someone who is eager to learn and will very quickly absorb everything you teach.

While you probably have more pressing and urgent criteria for that position, don’t be afraid to step back and consider creativity, innovation, and drive that will ultimately help the company’s bottom line.

When You Find the Good Ones, Lend a Hand

If you end up hiring someone who defies every negative millennial stereotype on your newsfeed, the time will come to put their long-term goals above your own current needs. The time will come, eventually, to be only and entirely on their side, and use your influence to help them take the next step. Even if it means losing them. Even if the next step is a job at another company.

That’s how you win employee loyalty. Forever. And who knows — you may just be nurturing someone who will come back later with more skills and experience.

While it’s a widely accepted concept that millennials’ values, attitudes, and priorities differ significantly from those of baby boomers, many continue to use the same old interviewing strategies on them. But what millennials want are what most candidates are also coming to expect: transparency, respect, opportunities to grow, etc. Does this mean that interviews in general are due for an overhaul? Only time will tell.

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