Conducting interviews with recent graduates can make the generation
gap feel more like a canyon. It can be tough to find common ground to
get the ball rolling and even harder to know what to ask to get a
As evident by the millions of text messages they send every day,
millennials do like to communicate (just maybe a bit more virtually than
conversationally); however, they may not be as interested in answering
the typical “where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” questions. As the
old saying goes, ask a clichéd question, get a clichéd answer.
So what’s an HR professional to do? Try some of these tips for making
the most of interviews with the biggest growing generation in the
Get on Their Level
When given the opportunity to share during interviews, millennials will
open up. It’s important to engage with millennials on their interests
and plans at the outset of the hiring process, but from a different
angle than you may be used to.
You want to invite the younger generation to tell their story and speak
about themselves honestly. There’s something to be learned about an
applicant’s view of the future from having them talk a bit about what
led them to this interview. Try asking, “was their last job helpful
for their career journey or just a means to an end?”
This question is a way to get millennials to talk about how they
envision their future without making them feel like they have to give a
dishonest or sycophantic answer about your company or the position.
Asking this question lets young interviewers know you understand that
sometimes a job is just a job, and it provides a nice segue into
discussing the job they’re applying for in those terms.
Appeal to Their Sense of Adventure
Millennials are a generation both more aware and more inclusive of
diversity, not only with regard to people, but life experiences as well.
They want to live a life reminiscent of an Apple commercial, full of
interesting, unique pursuits, people, and places. And they’re certainly
not afraid of the unknown.
Ask them to speak about a time they were in a completely unfamiliar
situation and enjoyed it. Based on this answer, you can glean an
applicant’s desire to branch out from the status quo. Would they thrive
from experiencing varied responsibilities and locations with your
company or would they rather have stability and consistency?
By and large, millennials are risk-takers who enjoy trying new things.
They also tend to have a somewhat shorter attention span than their
older peers. Not only are you getting a feel for how the applicant feels
about plunging into the unknown, but you might be able to glean whether
they are looking for a long-term or short-term solution.
Know Their Wide Array of Interests
This sentiment goes hand-in-hand with the last section: millennials like
to experience new things and, by consequence, learn new things about
themselves, the world, and the people around them. Make use of this
characteristic by having them describe a talent of theirs not directly
related to the position they’re applying for.
Even after college, millennials enjoy learning through social groups and
activities, both face to face and virtual. Because our world is growing
ever more connected, millennials are afforded more opportunities for
interdisciplinary learning. Many millennials find new passions after
college but may not consider how those interests could benefit their
By finding hidden talents (and applications for those talents in your
company), you can provide a more diverse and fulfilling experience for a
millennial in your workplace and, perhaps, find a long-term fit for
them within your business.
Millennials have energy, drive, and passion, and they want to find
fulfilling work just like anyone else. Tailoring your interview style to
them by letting it be more conversational and less rigid both helps them
feel at ease and gives you real insight into whether they can be one of
the building blocks for your company’s future.
Millennials may be becoming a dirty word to some, but there’s no denying
the need for strategies to engage every generation. Check out our
engagement whitepaper or some of the articles below for more tips
Millennials: What Do They Really Want?
3 Tips for Managing Your Millennials
20 Facts You Need to Know About Millennials
Source: Chief Learning Officer