Interviewing Millennials: 5 Tips to Get You Started

By Adam Robinson,
June 6, 2012

Does this sound familiar? Your job candidate walks in the door for an interview and the first thing you notice is the fact that he’s wearing Nikes with his suit! Then you sit down to begin the interview and he leans back in his chair and denies your offer for coffee and instead requests a Red Bull! If this sounds like an experience you’ve had, don’t panic! You are not in a nightmare and you’re not dreaming, nope, you are just interviewing a millennial. 

Millennials may be against the formality that comes with older generations but they are more creative, energetic, and better engaged with technology then their predessors. So, ignore their shoe choice and get out your pencils and take notes: today we’re providing some inside knowledge on what a lot of our HR friends are stumped about, how to interview those darn millennials! Below we outline 5 tips to help you start interviewing the next generation and stop pulling out your hair.

1. Recognize their Achievements

Aaron McDaniel, the author of the blog Young Professional’s Edge, recently guest blogged about How to Interview Millennials: The Keys to Hiring the Best Young Talent and he states that ‘to learn how to interview a millennial it is best to first understand where we are coming from.’ Millennials have been encouraged, praised, and awarded for participation their entire life. They expect applause on everything from graduating high school to being last in the spelling bee and this affects the way they are interviewed. When your millennial candidate explains their qualifications, pay attention and acknowledge their achievements! The millennial will respond with increased excitement for your company and the position.

2. Use Follow Up Questions!

Margot Baill, Hireology’s Product Development Director, hit it dead on when she said, ‘If you want interview responses that go deeper than the surface level, it’s crucial to ask ask your candidates: ‘When?’ ‘How?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Tell me more…’ each time they give you a response.’ Using follow up questions to go farther into their experience will help you better understand their work styles and give them a chance to do what they do best, show off!

3. Engage a Conversation

Aliah Wright wrote an article called “Millennials: Bathed to Bits” in the July 2010 edition of SHRM’s HR Magazine in which he states, ‘Old style interviews are out.  Two way dialogues are the way to hire.’ We couldn’t agree more! Expect the candidate to talk a lot more, ask you questions, and treat the interview like a conversation. In our blog post about Hiring Millennials: How to Write Killer Job Descriptions we state that the stereotypical Millennial seems to always ask: ‘What can you do for me? The interview is an important time to inquire about what career goals the candidate has and get them talking about where they see themselves in 5-10 years. Seem crazy? It’s not. Most millennials have a 10-15 year plan!

4. Pay Attention to Questions they Ask

Monitoring the questions the candidate asks is a tip McDaniel discussed in his posting about interviewing millenials. He says that candidates can ask a ton of questions but you might not realize until after that they never inquired about the company, which could mean a lack of interest in the position. So be aware of questions that come off as scripted and weed out uninterested job candidates by asking, ‘What in the job description for this position interested you most?’

5. Don’t Underestimate ‘Em!

Joel Spolsky an expert on hiring for technology jobs recently spoke at the ERE expo and stated, ‘the number one thing that people care about is will they have the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to move on to new things’ (when starting a new job). This is where millennials differ from their predecessors: forget the money just let us make an impact! Now don’t get me wrong, plenty of young professionals are seeking six figure salaries but millennials are often in search of more than just money. They are looking to start with a company that will propel them into a successful future. So ask your candidate what their career path is and inquire if they see your company as the next step.

By using these 5 tips you will be in a better position to actively engage and evaluate a millennial’s career goals and work ethic therefore paving the way to a successful hire.

Interview millennials better today with Hireology, a web-based tool that provides customized interviews, job profiling, and one-click background checks. The only thing Hireology can’t do is tell your job candidate to wear better shoes! Start your free trial of Hireology today.

Want even more tips on hiring millennials, download our free guide!

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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