What You Need to Know About Interviewing Millennials

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You’ve probably noticed that more younger candidates are applying for your job openings – and not just for the entry-level gigs. Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and while the youngest millennials are still in high school, the oldest are 34 years old and making the move into middle management.

Just as Gen. X-ers were quite different from their baby boomer predecessors, millennials have their own unique characteristics that separate them from previous generations. It’s important for HR managers to understand what makes this generation tick and adapt their hiring techniques accordingly.

Millennials typically don’t choose their jobs based on paychecks alone. They care deeply about finding work related to their passions. Company culture and work-life balance are more important to this generation than these concepts were to prior generations. Millennials tend to want more feedback on their performance, expect to quickly advance in their careers, and won’t stick around if they feel an employer is mistreating them.

When it comes to recruiting millennials, traditional approaches won’t cut it. Be prepared to change things up. Try working these questions into your interview process when talking with millennial candidates:

1. Where Have You Volunteered?

Nothing lights up a millennial more than the chance to talk about their passions, and this generation values volunteering more than its predecessors did. Starting with this question can help a millennial candidate feel more comfortable while giving you a glimpse into their real personality.

2. What Are Your Career Goals?

Unlike their loyal predecessors, millennials tend not to think too far into the future. Therefore, the old “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” question may be met with a blank stare.

3. What Is Your Dream Job?

Rather than asking why the candidate wants this job, ask what they want ideally. If their answer shows no correlation with what you’re offering, they are probably not a good fit.

bench4. How Have You Handled Failure?

Many people believe millennials are entitled and lazy. This question is an opportunity for your candidate to explain the struggles they’ve faced and how they appropriately responded to those struggles.

5. What Are Your Expectations for This Job?

It’s important to make sure a millennial candidate’s perception of job duties, opportunities for advancement, and work-life balance line up with the reality of what you are offering.

6. What Do You Like Most About Working on a Team?

Sure, millennials love taking selfies, but they also enjoy being part of something bigger than themselves. Their answer to this question may shed light on their working style and how they would fit into your company culture.

7. What Would You Change About Your Last Job?

Depending on your candidate’s honesty, the answer to this question could highlight their expectations for everything from salary and benefits to working hours and conditions.

8. What Would You Do If the Computer System Crashed at 10 A.M.?

There’s never been a more tech-savvy generation, which can be both a good and a bad thing. How a millennial responds to this question can tell you a lot about their initiative, problem-solving skills, and dependence on technology.

Try to treat the interview like a conversation. Younger job seekers don’t respond well to rapid-fire questions. Instead, they expect to have a dialogue wherein they get to ask as many questions of you as you ask of them. Make notes about the questions they ask so you can evaluate whether they showed a genuine interest in the company and the position.

Ready or not, millennials will soon make up the majority of your workforce. Learning to interview this new generation can be confusing, but it’s something every HR manager must do. In fact, your company’s future depends on it.

Jodie Shaw is the chief marketing officer for The Alternative Board (TAB).

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Jodie Shaw is the chief marketing officer for The Alternative Board (TAB), a global organization that helps forward-thinking business leaders grow their businesses, increase profitability, and improve their lives by leveraging local business owner advisory boards and private coaching.