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Millennial Mythbusters Part II: Interviewing Millennials

In my first article on Millennials, I “busted the myth” that all Millennials are lazy, or all expect an enormous compensation package. While Millennials share qualities like learning, avoiding conflict, and a modest ROI with other generations, they are much more team and relationship oriented and tend to have a higher level of energy and drive for performance. As attractive as these qualities may be, that does not necessarily mean there is a fit to every culture or position.

Millennial candidates are sometimes “too” relationship oriented; that is, if your company is highly regulated or deadline driven, then doing things “by the book” or being highly results focused may be relatively more important to you than relationship building. During an interview you want to know the individual can build relationships and work on a team, but still get a quality job done on time. These points may help you make that determination:

  1. Ask the individual to describe times when they had to deal with a difficult situation with a colleague or a customer. Have them describe the situation, how they handled it, and what the outcome was.
  2. Present a situation where emotions and stakes are running high. Ask the person how they would handle it. If the position has a people management component, it should be easy to create situations where an employee is not being productive or making mistakes complicated by stresses and strains in their personal life.
  3. Two key things about interviewing: Be prepared to keep the conversation moving by asking follow-up questions, and pay as much attention to body language as the words themselves. If the candidate seems anxious or nervous, attempt to understand why.

Here is an example using a situation where relationship factors are explicitly positioned against getting a job done on time or to standard. How the person responds and how comfortable they are in their delivery (calm body language) can tell you where the line may exist in their mind between “must please others” and “must get the job done no matter what”:

  1. The client is breathing down your neck to get the job done a week early and the team working on this project is not excited about working overtime…what do you do?
    • The first answer may be simplistic: “I might coax them with a pizza night and some great desserts from the restaurant next door”. So push the envelope a bit.
  2. That’s a great idea, but this is a big project—this could mean 12 hour days all week to get it done, and did I mention this is your biggest single customer? How do you keep both the customer and the team happy?
    • You may see some anxiety as the candidate recalls a similar situation that did not go well. You want to hear a more considered answer than a string of pizza nights or other “bribes”. If that is what you hear, challenge it. Assuming you get a reasonably good answer, up the stakes again.
  3. This client is not only our biggest single customer, but they have been very helpful introducing us to new clients in new industries. It is important to do all we can to keep both the customer and the team happy—how do you proceed?
    • There is no best answer, but you want to hear reasonable answers that are logical, demonstrate an understanding of human nature, superb communication, and leadership skills. You want to hear specific and clear answers delivered with the confidence of experience and deep understanding.

It’s also clear that while Millennials as a whole tend to have more energy and drive for performance, it’s important to confirm that the individual in front of you has “gas in the tank”. Our assessments evaluate three factors that are sure indicators of energy and drive: ego-drive, role-engagement, and goal-orientation. The fact is we want to know that anyone we are hiring or promoting has great energy & drive, so this is not strictly a Millennial issue; this is well covered in our updated guide Interview as if Your Bottom Line Depends on it, in the section titled “Internal Factors” (pages 10-12). You can find the updated guide on the Resources page of our website or ask us to send you a copy.

Copyright © 2019 Strategic Talent Management, Inc.

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