Five Issues to Cover While Interviewing Millennials

I know, I know. You’ve already been burned, haven’t you? Although there are millions of sharp, savvy, intelligent young graduates out there, you found the cocky, entitled, lazy ones who came to you for a job interview. They ask about vacation time in the first interview; they inquire about inappropriate personal topics, they check their cell phone during the interview and they want your job after one year.

May I offer some advice?


Look for FAITH.

As a hirer of college students and recent grads for over three decades now, I’ve learned the hard way what needs to happen and what needs to be discussed. I don’t know it all, but I have five issues I always try to cover in an interview… and they spell the word FAITH:

F – Faithful.
Ask how consistent they were with their past work experience. If they’ve never worked for a boss before, ask about what teachers or coaches they liked the best. Find out if they’ve been consistent and committed to the activities in which they’ve been previously engaged. In a world of seven-second attention spans, consistency is huge for me as an employer. Were they faithful to the commitments they’ve made?

A – Available.
This may sound crazy, but I’ve hired young people before for a paid job, only to find out they weren’t completely available. It wasn’t a priority for them. They instantly had vacations to take, other interests to tend to, or people they needed to visit. You are about to give them money—don’t hire them if you catch a whiff of entitlement.

I – Initiative.
Ask enough questions to get a sense of their own initiative. Do they sit and wait for opportunities, or do they make them happen? Do they pursue mentors themselves? Initiative is a “must” for me. I’ve been known to meet with a person their first day on the job if I don’t sense this, reminding them of this topic from the interview. Without any drama, I tell them they’d fit better somewhere else if they don’t want to take initiative as they serve our mission. If they don’t, I’ll show them to the door.

T – Teachable.
Ask about their past experiences with other authority figures. Be brutally honest with them. If need be, scare them a bit to see if they can be completely teachable, learning from you and your environment, or if they’ll act like a renegade, picking and choosing what they’ll do. You’re not a “cult”, but you must have healthy culture on the job. This means you must hire the culture you want through good team members.

H – Hungry.
Do a “hunger check.” I have seen enough of the “I’m above all this” attitude or the “This job is beneath me” mindset. Ask about projects for which they’ve volunteered in the past. Find out how passionate they are or how much they yearn to grow by assessing what they’ve done, not just what’s said in the interview. Entry-level work is the gauge I evaluate. Early jobs are about earning trust, even more than showing talent. I won’t hire slackers.

Building Good Habits in Them…

In the words of Leslie Jane-Seymor, “Remember—everyone announces themselves at the job interview.” They will tip their hand and show who they really are if you’ll keep your antennas up. Often, it will be in their effort to get a leg up on peers. They’ll presume too much after reading your website or your blogs and potentially say something inappropriate. I understand that sometimes, young professionals may mess up just trying too hard. That’s OK. But don’t ignore your gut on job candidates. If they bring a 4.0 GPA but you feel uncomfortable with them, don’t hire them.

Five Issues to Cover While Interviewing Millennials