Pro-Tips for Interviewing Millennials

by Gonzalo December 04, 2018
Tech millennial going into office building

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Edward Mellett, the founder of Practice Reasoning Tests. After failing employer’s assessment tests many times before getting a graduate job in 2005, Edward created PracticeReasoningTests to teach the lessons he learned along the way. Edward has created numerous in-depth guides about psychometric testing and other types of job tests.  

Millennials (or individuals born between 1980 and 2000) are now the largest generational group in the U.S. labor market. They make up a third of the U.S. workforce, but millennials have a reputation for having a short attention span, being unwilling to turn off their cell phones at work, and being narcissistic. Whether you believe the buzz about millennials or not, it’s critical to make sure the candidates in your pipeline will become an asset to your company if hired.

The Issue

It’s unfair to stereotype a whole generation of workers, but there has been a lot of buzz in the business world from companies having difficulties adapting to the needs of this new group of workers.

It may be due to the fact that, when these millennials arrived in the workplace, like every generation, they have had to make adjustments to the reality of the job landscape. Or it could be because they are the first generation of digital natives.

Despite the bad rap about millennials, the fact that they offer fresh perspectives and a ton of technical skills that businesses require to succeed always outweigh the challenges of hiring and retaining them. In fact, millennials are some of the most motivated individuals you can find, with 65% of them eager to learn new things and to succeed.

Hiring millennials could significantly improve the workplace and it’s just a matter of making sure you pick candidates that will thrive in your environment.

The Current State of Affairs in Hiring

Many companies have measures in place to ensure that only the best candidates get through the hiring process. The first stop is usually the paper trail. This may or may not sift out candidates that will not have the proper workforce cultural moxie to succeed.

Many companies also utilize psychometric testing which often includes a personality test, a verbal reasoning test, a numerical reasoning test, and an SHL test. The latter is an occupational personality test that is widely used in the human resources industry.

There are different types of psychometric tests that measure candidates’ aptitude and cognitive abilities. The tests can fairly and accurately predict whether applicants are likely to be successful if they were appointed to a particular job.

For instance, accountants or analysts may be given numerical reasoning tests and be presented with numerical information in the form of tables, graphs or charts. Questions based on numerical information will be asked to see how well candidates can make use and manipulate the data presented to them.

Another example is psychometric testing as the verbal reasoning test. This type of test is given to candidates that may fill roles that require good communication skills, maximum comprehension ability and verbal aptitudes, such as bloggers, content marketers, or business development specialists.

Psychometric tests provide an idea of how well candidates would perform in the position at hand. After these tests are complete, you can continue the process of vetting your candidates to find the best fit.  

Pre-Interview – Test Commitment

One method of testing to see how committed a candidate is to your company is to email them before their interview and provide some reading material and state that you will discuss it as a part of the interview.

Another means of testing commitment is to ask for the candidate to bring something simple to the interview, like a red pen. If the candidate has not performed their initial assignment, they are unlikely to show the kind of commitment required after they are hired.

At the Interview

Ask your potential millennial hire the same types of questions you would ask a worker of any generation. These would include questions that would be trickier for a new employee, like what to do with an enraged customer and questions that help ascertain if they know enough about your field to succeed. The difference is that you want to ask a few more questions that will eliminate problems in the workplace.

The Coachability Question

One of the hardest issues for a company is hiring a worker who is absolutely uncoachable. This means a worker who cannot benefit from advice and improve their performance.

One of the best questions to weed this out is to ask the candidate if they ever encountered a time they doubted their capacity to succeed. This question forces the candidate to talk about a time they encountered a challenge. It forces the interviewee to explain what they did to step up to the challenge. Did they blame others? Did they seek coaching or find something within themselves to rise to the challenge? By asking this question, you’re discovering if your candidate can rise to the occasion and grow on demand.

If the candidate answers this question by blaming others, if they are not addressing the question, or if they aren’t disposed to rise up to challenges related to lack of skills, you should eliminate them. This is not a desirable candidate because they are not predisposed to receive coaching to help them succeed. Since lack of coachability is a major reason young workers don’t work in their positions, this is a key question to ask.

The Job Conditions Question

Although we all like to think we know about the job we are applying for, in reality, the conditions of work may not match our perception. In the interview, be sure to explain what the job is like on a day-to-day basis and ask them to reflect their understanding.

If their visualization of the job conditions at hand is not realistic, ask them to explain the differences between what they would like and what you have to offer in the interview. This can also be a major issue with a new hire.

The Attitude Questions

Asking questions about how the candidate would like to get feedback about their job performance and about how they reacted when they were not chosen to receive an award or recognition they thought they deserved can help ascertain attitude.

The former question helps pave the way for the candidate to realize that they will not be given a gold star for every effort they make. The latter question helps you determine if the candidate has realistic expectations about their interactions with others.


When interviewing millennials and entry-level workers, the main goal is to determine the candidate’s commitment, attitude and ability to be coached to success.

These interview techniques will help weed out undesirable candidates from any generation that have passed the psychometric tests. Just like a psychometric test, this is just one more layer of defense against the cost of hiring someone doomed to fail in your workplace.

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