What’s the Secret to Hiring Millennials?

Apr 20 2017

young female graduateShe wasn’t alive when the Berlin Wall came down and he learned the iconic phrase, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit,” from American Crime Story. Millennials are officially saturating the workforce and you know you have to figure out how to work with them. By 2020, they will make up fully half of the workforce. What impact will one of these equally frustrating and fascinating people have on your culture? When evaluating millennials, your approach needs to be very different from other generations, and certain strategies prove to be a better screening tool than others. To hire great millennials, use these strategies to find that diamond in the rough:

Figure Out What You’re Afraid Of
There is something about this generation that you either don’t understand or don’t like. You may have previously had bad experiences, or you’ve just heard terrible things and are very cautious. Spend a few minutes thinking through what’s really important to you about this position. Is it interacting with your customers politely, especially in tense situations? Is it your commitment to team collaboration and a fear of lone wolves? Perhaps it’s simply work ethic and attitude. Or you could be concerned about problem-solving ability and the ability to work with minimal oversight and direction. Once you determine your hot buttons, commit to fully exploring these areas with your Millennial candidate.

Modify Your Usual Interview Questions
It’s often hard to get a Millennial pinned down enough to give you the specific information you are searching for. Instead of your usual approach, use situational questions to predict behavior and potential. Ask questions that require your millennial to provide examples of how he or she would handle certain situations and then drill into her answers with smart follow-up questions. Request that she share a time when she had to work with a difficult customer or colleague. How did she handle it? What did she learn? Asking for both the situation and the lesson learned will give you insight into how this particular candidate thinks and whether she is open to self-reflection and personal growth.

Ask the Same Question in 2-3 Different Ways
After you cover a few other topics, come back and ask a question a second time (in a different way) to see if you can learn a little more about what makes this person tick. “Tell me about an interaction where a team mate or a customer has spoken to you rudely? What did you do?” Then follow up by asking, “How did that turn out?” and “What might you do differently next time?” By drilling into the things that really matter to you, revisiting them multiple times, and asking good follow up questions, you can learn a lot.

Let Everyone Test Drive
Once you’ve narrowed your applicant pool down to a small number of qualified candidates who have made a great impression, it’s time to put them to the test with a job shadow interview where your top candidates will sit with people on your team, observe them in action, learn what they do, and how their role fits into the big picture. Give candidates a sample problem to solve or ask them to help you with a small project while they’re onsite. Observe their work style, thought process, problem solving skills, and tendency to ask smart questions. By taking this approach, both you and the candidate will have a much better sense of the job, chemistry, and fit than you do with the more traditional approach.

Understand Motivators
To get the best out of your millennial, you need to understand what motivates him or her. What drives the kind of performance you expect and are you able to offer that to your millennial? If your job is paying notoriously low and your candidate is primarily motivated by money, a mismatch is brewing. However, if your candidate is motivated by learning new things and seems excited about your field, that might be a much better match. You can also ask about how she expects her career to unfold? Can you offer what she’s looking for?

Ask for a Writing Sample
Social media and texting have ingrained a style of communication that lacks polish and encourages brevity and bluntness—and you can forget about punctuation! There is an art to phrasing client emails, writing memos, giving project updates, and creating marketing material, and I often cringe when I read emails from newly hired millennials. Asking for a writing sample is a great way to see how your candidate will phrase things and whether you think he or she can be trusted to email clients and colleagues without causing embarrassment.

The good news about millennials is that as a generation, they are generally enthusiastic, happy, and confident. Once you identify someone who exhibits the personality, skills, and work ethic you’re looking for you can count on them to bring a light-hearted, creative, and open-minded mentality to your team.

Happy Hiring!


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