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Talent Talk: Five Tips for Conducting a Job Interview That Speaks to Millennials

Millennials have a very different set of priorities than previous generations when they choose an employer. To land the best available talent, start by re-framing the interview process.

Paul Sturgeon

September 14, 2020

3 Min Read
successful job interview
Image: Antonioguillem/Adobe Stock

This is the third and final part of our discussion on attracting and hiring millennials, those currently around 25 to 40 years old. If you missed the first two parts, you can find them here: "What Is Your Company’s Millennial Score?" and "How to Write a Job Description That Attracts Millennials."

There are any number of things that companies should be doing on all professional interviews if they are serious in competing for the best available talent. This is not a comprehensive discussion, but rather a list of five tips to help specifically with landing the millennials.

  1. Let everyone involved in the interview process know that you are trying to attract this candidate. In the end you may choose not to make them an offer, but you want the decision to be yours, so conduct the process as though this is your chance to potentially get Tom Brady on your team. These guys and gals all went to college, and every campus visit started with a personal and video presentation of the college. It was fun, exciting, and set the tone for the campus visit. Think about starting your interviews with a presentation on why they might want to join your company.

  2. According to several studies, when employers are asked what is important to millennials, their answers are usually way off. Prestige, power, and salary — things that are important to baby boomers — rank near the bottom of the list for millennials. They are looking for things like flexibility, relationships with colleagues, the company’s use of technology, and interesting work. Emphasize those things to land your candidate, and they will be more likely to accept a fair offer. Conversely, if they don’t see your company as offering a compatible environment, you probably won’t land them even with a higher salary.

  3. Unlike boomers, who grew up trusting institutions like the government, big corporations, schools, and organized religion, millennials don’t see a reason to trust anyone. Don’t take it personally, but they don’t trust you. They want to trust you, but you must be transparent and tout your involvement in any community, industry, or social issues. Consider letting them meet with some of their peers without you, either as a peer interview or maybe around lunch.

  4. Some consider millennials spoiled, entitled, lazy, coddled, and narcissistic. Whatever your view on that, they want to know that they will have a mentor they can go to with questions, and a support system. They grew up playing team sports and like the idea of being part of something larger. The direct supervisor must spend a significant amount of time with the candidate during the interview process to assure them that they will have what they need to succeed, and also to start building a bond based on trust that will keep them with the company longer term.

  5. If the person needs to fly in for an interview, book the flight and hotel and pay for them directly. It might seem like a small thing, but if someone has significant college loan debt and not a lot of money in the bank, it can be a hardship to float $1,000 or more. Since most companies do not do this, it differentiates you right up front, and, I might point out, at no cost.


Paul SturgeonAbout the author

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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