Of the four generations in the work force today, Millennials (a.k.a. "Generation Y") are the largest, with roughly 35 million people employed. The number of Millennials will continue to rise, and they will soon be occupying many senior level roles in organizations. It is therefore essential to make great hiring decisions. Pulling from these 12 questions will help you when you interview Millennials.
- Would you rather be an inventor or a leader? There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It will simply help tell you where their passions lie and if they like to build things or build people.
- What would you rather have: A) A small team with a shoestring budget and significant autonomy, or B) A large team and budget with multi-layered decision-making processes? This gives you a feeling for their sense of drive and risk taking compared to their desire for control and norms. People with an entrepreneurial spirit will always take the first option.
- Tell me about a time when things felt helpless but you knew you would pull through. Millennials are an optimistic group, and you want to be sure you are bringing that into your organization. Hire people with optimism and you will find they reach for big goals and try to change the future for the better.
- What would you do if you are in a meeting with a senior leader that is running long and an important phone call that you were expecting comes through? Millennials are notorious for multitasking. This type of scenario will lend insight into how they handle completing priorities when they can't do two things at once.
- Tell me about a time you failed. Right or wrong, Millennials have been pegged as a group that gets their way, which has been reinforced by helicopter parents and participation trophies. Failure will happen (and is a valuable way to learn), and it's important to know how they respond to it.
- Give me an example of a situation when you worked in a diverse group with different opinions. Millennials are the most inclusive generation, and it would be a flag if they did not have good examples of inclusive behavior and collaboration.
- Tell me about the volunteer or charity work you do. This generation is passionate about giving back, whether through missionary work, the Peace Corps, military service, or local charities. Giving and selflessness are hallmarks of great leaders.
- Tell me about a large project you worked on--and your role in it--that took longer to complete than planned. Millennials grew up with constant stimulation and can be impatient. It's important to understand how they react when something takes longer than they expected.
- Would you rather work at home, in a traditional office, or in an office with an open floor plan? People have preferences for how to work and you will want to ensure that you have a workplace aligned to this (or provide clarity on your work environment).
- How do you like to receive feedback? Millennials are a group that desires frequent positive feedback. Balancing this against your internal culture will be important.
- What role do you expect to have in five years? This question may sound presumptuous, but Millennials have a strong desire for achievement and promotion. Providing career paths and clear expectations are important.
- Tell me about a time you were passed up for an award or promotion you felt you deserved. Millennials can get frustrated if they don't achieve quickly (see question above). Seeing how they respond to this question will give you an idea of their commitment and resiliency.
If you think the workplace is already complex, just wait a few years when a fifth generation is added to the mix. Regardless, people are people. No matter the distinctions we find, human needs and motivations transcend generations and will always be more similar than different.
Weigh in with your experience. What interview question have you found to be an effective predictor of success with Millennials?