The Problem with Interviewing Millennials

Posted by Ericka Spradley

September 10, 2012

Recruiters, Millenials, InterviewI’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but there seems to be a “potential challenge” within the walls of firms across the nation. The best, brightest talent that we’ve seen in decades is currently seeking employment and unfortunately, some organizations aren’t prepared to fully embrace them.  The market is saturated with job seekers who can be referenced with a variety of aliases including: Gen Y, Generation Next, or even the iGeneration. Regardless of how you refer to this tech-savvy group of multi-taskers, traditional is one word that isn’t used to describe them.

Sheer statistics indicate that if you have yet to conduct an interview with a millennial, you most certainly will; sooner than later. By 2014, 36% of the workforce will consist of this energetic, independent thinking group, IF the interview is a success.  

I’m not sure however, that those conducting the interview have grasped what has transpired during the most recent employment shift. Before our future leaders grace the corporate culture of organizations with their presence, the interviewer as well as the interviewee has to be prepared. Traditional ways of conducting interviews are no longer effective because the candidates who are being interviewed shouldn’t be considered “traditional”. Here are a few things to note about millennials as you prepare to speak with them:

  • Millennials were born into our technological age, so more often than not; they are connected and attracted to technology.

  • Millennials are informal, fun seekers who value diversity and enjoy flexibility.

  • Millennials prefer to have coaching; quick, concise, effective feedback that is relevant and timely.

With this in mind, the enthusiastic millennial who sits across from you will need your guidance. Your role as the interviewer, as the face of the organization is to listen, assess the candidate and provide clarification. As you prepare to conduct any millennial interview, you should:

Do your best to put the candidate at ease by outlining the process.

  • In interviews past, perhaps you didn’t remind a candidate to silence their phones during the introduction. With millennials who tend to be connected, consider it a simple courtesy that you as the interviewer are willing to provide. Should their phones be silenced without being reminded? Yes, absolutely; but you may not want to risk dismissing someone who interviews well and is qualified for the job because they inadvertently forgot to mute their ringer.

As you listen to the millennial candidate respond, don’t mistake their anxiety, enthusiasm and energy for a lack of professionalism.

  • Millennials truly have a desire to do well, they have great ideas and they certainly don’t mind working with others. These are favorable traits that successful organizations thrive off of, so be sure to ask the right questions, probe as you need to and maintain control of the interview.  Assessing the candidate is so much more than the answers provided by the candidate; it is who the person genuinely is and their ability to bring value in addition to a fresh perspective to the company.

Should you need to provide clarification during the interview, remember who the millennial is: non-traditional, tech savvy, connected, independent thinker.

  • The millennial welcomes quick, timely information, so as you share next steps and bring the interview to a close, make sure that your communication is concise. If not, the candidate may ask questions to gain a better understanding, which takes additional time that most recruiters don’t have. 

In the event that the millennial captures notes on a PDA, tablet, or notebook; consider it a visual reminder of their ability to be efficient.

At the end of the day, interviewing millennials shouldn’t present challenges. We simply have to be mindful of who they are and not allow tradition to rob us of attracting and retaining top candidates.


Ericka Spradley

Ericka Spradley is the President and Founder of My Next Level. Shehas many years of leadership experience and her understanding of the multi-faceted leadership realm has provided a level of expertise in human resource management and career growth. Among her significant accomplishments, Ericka has served as Vice President of Professional Development with The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Strayer University Chapter, she was a columnist for Classroom to Cubicle, an online magazine for college students, and she is currently a Yahoo! Contributor columnist.