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The hiring manager and millennial behavior in job interviews

May 9, 2013

Article courtesy of Human Resources Training Programs

By Cheryl Kuch

As new college graduates embark on finding their first career jobs, or even summer jobs, many of them will find not just the sluggish economy or high unemployment challenging them, but the interview itself as well.   According to a study of 501 hiring managers by the recruiting firm Adecco, hiring managers are three times more likely hire a worker 50 years old or older than hire a Millennial (defined as those born between 1981 and 2000, making them 18-32 years old today). Why? Long-term commitment, professionalism and reliability are what recruiters cited as their biggest worry about Millennials. However, mistakes Millennials make in job interviews were also very prominently reported in the survey. HR professionals can compare the survey results to their own experience screening Millennial job candidates:

According to the survey, 75 percent of hiring managers reported Millennials wearing the wrong attire, including flip flops, shorts, too-short hemlines, flashy jewelry and plunging necklines. Many Millenials do not seem to understand that they need to overdress for the interview, particularly when unsure of the expected dress code. The conservative business suit is still the standard for the professional job interview, regardless of what the dress code on the actual job will be.

Hiring managers check applicants’ social media profiles prior to interview or hire. In Adecco’s research, 70 percent of hiring managers reported Millennials posting inappropriate content on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Such content included technical errors (grammar, spelling, etc.) inappropriate photos and profanity.

Sixty-two percent of hiring managers reported that Millennials came to interviews with little or no knowledge about the company or the position, thus hurting their interview performance. Considering the capabilities of the Internet and social media, hiring managers find it ironic, to say the least, that Millennial job candidates do not come to the interview with some basic knowledge of the products and services the company offers, some knowledge of the company’s history, or even some knowledge of the company’s culture gained through social media contacts.

Also ironic given the ubiquity of information available on the Internet and social media, 60 percent of hiring managers report that they have interviewed Millennial job candidates who asked no questions during the interview. They expect to field three to five intelligent questions about the company or the job from each candidate.

Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers are turned off in the interview by what they see as overconfidence in Millennial candidates. These candidates do not seem to know the difference between highlighting their strengths and plain boasting. Hiring managers suspect that “helicopter parenting,” which has the effect of shielding the young adult from honestly confronting his or her shortcomings, contributes to the problem.

Unsurprisingly, the survey cited familiar horror stories of candidates taking texts and phone calls during interviews as well.

The real challenge for hiring managers in screening and selecting Millennial candidates is just how much, if any at all, of these traditionally inappropriate behaviors they should be willing to look beyond during the interview. Put another way, they need to discern the Millennial’s actual skill set through in-depth interviewing and other screening methods. Then they need to decide whether the skill set is strong enough to justify an effort to train him or her in professional behavior once hired. It is a challenge few hiring managers were prepared for coming out of business school.

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