15 October, 2020
By Mike Simpson
More than one-in-three people in the workforce are Millennials. That makes them the largest part of the labor force, by far, surpassing Gen X – the second largest population working – by several million.
But even as the oldest Millennials approach 40, that doesn’t mean they navigate interviews with the skill of an experienced sailor. Many still struggle; that’s just a fact.
After all, interviewing is a skill you have to develop, and that can take time… a lot of time. Luckily, with the right Millennial job interview tips, you can improve your capabilities, increasing the odds that you’ll shine. If you’re a Millennial with an interview on the horizon, here’s what you need to know…
What Is a Millennial?
Alright, before we dig into Millennial interview tips and tricks, let’s pause for a moment and handle a critical question; what is a Millennial? After all, there seems to be some confusion. News professionals essentially call any young person a Millennial, a move that’s, well, wrong.
While there is a little bit of debate about the exact years, most consider anyone born between 1981 and 1996 to be a Millennial (also known as Gen Y). That means kids going out and partying during the COVID-19 pandemic probably weren’t Millennials, a point many tried to make abundantly clear.
Millennials are a bit unique from the generations before them. This is a group that largely grew up with technology. They used computers at school and likely saw one enter into their home at a young-ish age. Many had a cell phone before their 18th birthday. Professionally, they expect their employers to embrace technology as a result.
In many cases, Millennials also view their careers quite differently. Due to the Great Recession, long-term loyalty isn’t something they expect from an employer. This led many to take incredibly flexible approaches to their careers. They aren’t afraid to look elsewhere for new opportunities, and many embraced the world of freelancing for the utmost in adaptability.
Much of the Millennial generation is also socially conscious. They value diversity and inclusion, as well as company culture.
Often, Millennials are haunted by several stereotypes. Their willingness to explore opportunities with other companies led them to be labeled job seekers. At times, they are accused of being entitled or unmotivated.
In reality, most Millennials are hard-working and driven, embracing opportunities to learn, grow, and advance. They want to find work that ignites a fire in them, providing them with a sense of fulfillment, often over financial gain. Typically, Millennials are effective collaborators, and they bring their technical prowess into every workplace they enter. And they crave work-life balance to a degree not seen in older generations.
Many of the differences between Gen Y professionals and hiring managers become incredibly apparent. That’s what can make a Millennial job interview so tricky.
But, if you’re a Millennial prepping for an interview, we can help you steer the ship of your career through these choppy waters. So, grab an oar and come along on the journey.
Common Millennial Job Interview Mistakes
Before we get into Millennial interview tips, let’s talk about Millennial job interview mistakes. Why? Because certain missteps can spell disaster, even if you get the rest of the meeting right.
With that in mind, here’s a look at three common Millennial interview mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Getting Too Personal
Millennials were the first generation to embrace social media. They are used to sharing intimate details of their lives with the masses, including complete strangers.
This comfort with openness can lead to a problem during an interview. Oversharing isn’t going to help you make a great impression. Instead, you may end up standing out, but for all of the wrong reasons.
It’s critical that Millennials don’t interpret open-ended questions or prompts – like the infamous “Tell me about yourself” – as an invitation to spill. It’s crucial to focus the conversation on your professional life and the job you want to land.
2. Making Assumptions About the Hiring Manager
Most Millennials are infuriated when someone makes an assumption about them because they belong to Gen Y. However, that doesn’t stop some Millennials from doing that exact thing to hiring managers.
Like Millennials, Baby Boomers and Gen X are burdened by their own stereotypes. For example, Gen Y may assume that older generations are technology averse or unskilled when it comes to tech, when that often isn’t true.
When you attend an interview, don’t let stereotypes guide how you act. If you do, you could create contention where none actually exists, and that can tank your interview in no time flat.
3. Assuming the Hiring Manager Saw Your LinkedIn Profile
Most Millennials have heard that hiring managers are reviewing candidate social media accounts to get information that isn’t in the job seeker’s resume. While that can certainly be true, it isn’t a universal move. And, even as it becomes more common, hiring managers might not be checking what you expect.
In many cases, hiring managers that head to social media to screen candidates are looking for red flags above all else. While they may skim overviews about your professional experience or a post you wrote about your field, they also might not.
When you come into an interview, don’t expect that the hiring manager checked out your social media, even if you included links on your resume. There’s a chance they haven’t seen that information, so approach questions as if they haven’t, at least initially.
Top 10 Millennial Job Interview Tips
If you want to ensure you make the best impression possible, Millennials need to approach their interview the right way. To help with that, here are 10 Millennial job interview tips that are worth embracing.
1. Dress the Part
Tech culture had a big influence on Millennials. As a result, some believe that they can dress casually and still be taken seriously.
Generally, it’s always best to dress up. Now, you may not have to go with a suit and tie. Often, a pair of slacks and a button-up shirt or nice blouse paired with a complementary blazer can do the trick.
2. Watch Your Language
No, we don’t mean cursing (though that’s certainly a no-no during an interview, too). Many Millennials have a habit of punctuating their conversations with “um,” “like,” and “you know.” Usually, they turn to filler words when they are trying to get their thoughts straight. The issue is, it sounds very unprofessional.
It’s important to remember that, during an interview, it’s okay to pause to collect your thoughts. Additionally, practicing your answers to get rid of filler words is a must. That way, you sound composed and prepared.
3. Sell Yourself
While Millennials may have a reputation for being entitled and willing to share anything on social media, that doesn’t mean every one is brimming with confidence. It isn’t uncommon for Millennials to have trouble discussing their strengths and capabilities, at times because they don’t want to seem arrogant.
However, selling yourself is what an interview is all about. You need to be able to discuss your achievements with confidence. By practicing your answers to common job interview questions, you can learn to strike a balance.
4. Focusing Too Much on You
During a Millennial interview, many candidates spend their time focusing on themselves. The trick is, you need to present the hiring manager with an enticing value proposition. That means, when you are responding to questions, you need to put the company first.
Don’t concentrate on yourself. Instead, position yourself as a solution to the hiring manager’s problem. Consider their needs and how you can align your answers with company goals. Discuss how your skillset relates to a pain point they are experiencing. With that approach, you’re putting the company and hiring manager first, and that makes a difference.
5. Don’t Overdo “We”
Discussing team accomplishments is a good idea. By explaining what “we” did, you’re showing that you can collaborate effectively.
However, if you talk about every achievement using “we” only, the hiring manager might question how valuable your individual contributions were. You need to strike a balance, giving credit where credit is due but also highlight what you did to move the team toward a goal.
6. Put Your Phone Away
Millennials are viewed as being glued to their phones. While it’s fine to make use of technology during your life, an interview is one scenario where you need to put it away.
Before you walk into the building (or sign in for the video call), silence your phone or completely turn it off. Put it somewhere where you can’t see it, ensuring you aren’t distracted by blinking notification lights. Resist the urge to check it until the interview is done, and you’ve completely exited the building (or the video call has ended).
7. Be Careful When Discussing Future Plans
Many hiring managers rely on classic questions. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is a biggie, and it’s one that can come back to bite you if you don’t approach it right.
While you may have aspirations far beyond the role you’re trying to land, you don’t want to make this opportunity look like a stepping stone, or worse, a time-killer until something better comes along. If you do, you aren’t going to get an offer.
Instead, talk about your goals in a general manner, but pivot quickly. Focus on what about this position, or the field, excites you. Talk about the future landing the job creates. This will make you sound enthusiastic, and that works in your favor.
8. Use the Interviewer’s Name
When you use a person’s name, you make the experience more personal. It’s a great approach if you want to build a quick connection, so use the interviewer’s name several times during the meeting.
Along with saying, “It’s a pleasure to meet your Mr. Doe,” try working their name in a couple of more times. For example, starting off an answer with, “In my experience, Mr. Doe, I’ve found that…” lets you use their name again in a natural, subtle way. You don’t have to do it with every question. Just a couple of times will do the trick.
9. Don’t Masquerade a Positive as a Negative
One of the scariest Millennial interview questions is, “What’s your greatest weakness?” It makes you feel vulnerable, and that isn’t fun.
Many interviewees think they can trick a hiring manager by masquerading a positive as a negative. For instance, they might say that being a perfectionist or working “too hard” holds them back. But, unless you have a standout example to back that statement up (and it better be a good one), it comes off as disingenuous.
Instead, identify an area where you do struggle. Then, shift the conversation by talking about how you’re working to better yourself in that area. That’s the way to nail that question.
10. Have Questions Ready
When the hiring manager asks, “Do you have questions for me?” your answer needs to be a resounding “yes.” By asking questions, you come off as interested and engaged, and that’s important.
Make sure to have a few in your back pocket before interview day. When in doubt, “Is there anything that prevents me from being your top candidate?” is always worth asking. Also, requesting that they describe a typical day in the role as well as a challenging one can work.
Putting It All Together
Ultimately, navigating a Millennial job interview doesn’t have to be difficult. Just use the tips above to get on the right track. That way, you can showcase yourself as an amazing candidate.
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