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Get Off My Lawn -- and Into my Firm? How to Interview Millennials

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 09, 2015 12:56 PM

Kids these days -- try as you might, there's no escaping them. In the U.S., there's more than 70 million Millenials, people born from the early eighties through to the new millennium. They're the largest generation outside of baby boomers and becoming a major part of the workforce, including your workforce.

The generation gap can lead to difficulties, particularly in interviews, where you have to get to know a candidate in a short amount of time. That means your tried and true methods might need to be updated when interviewing these youngsters. But don't worry, you don't have to ask them what their favorite emoji is just yet.

When interviewing Millennials, here are three areas to focus on:

1. Motivation

Millennials often expect to contribute ideas, and receive validation, immediately, rather than working their way up through a hierarchy. This can cause clashes in practices with more traditional, top-down structures. They're often motivated by tangible results and positive feedback. Asking millennial candidates what past tasks they enjoyed the most or how they envision their careers progressing can help you determine if they're a match for your firm.

2. Technology

The best thing about young people is that they're great with these computer things.

Millennials are often described as the first "digitally native" generation, having come of age after the Internet had already integrated itself into most aspects of life. If you're looking to bring more technology into your practice, ask them about their experiences. Their tech skills may allow you to set up a client meeting through an app, or just let you order lunch more quickly, depending on their experience.

3. Management

As in, can they be managed? Millennials are often described as entitled and difficult to instruct. For younger workers, though, what others see as entitlement may just be a demonstration of self-confidence. When working with others, Millennials are often more comfortable with collaborative tasks, rather than taking assignments from another. When interviewing millennial, ask them about their relationships with managers in the past, as well as group collaboration. They're going to need to do both.

Don't Mind the Generation Gap

Whatever you do, though, keep in mind that candidates are more than just an age or a label. Don't buy too much into the exaggerated curmudgeonry that says Millennials are all lazy and spoiled because their parents gave them too many trophies. As a generation, they're hungry for success and willing to learn. As individuals, they're -- well, individual, and should be judged accordingly.

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