Millennials place different priorities on what they are looking for in a job. And its not always the priorities you would think.
They place a high value on professional development opportunities; they want to work for companies with values aligned with their own; they like to be trusted that the work will still get done, despite the flexible scheduling opportunities; and, they appreciate transparency, authenticity, and open-door policies in regards to communications and frequent feedback.
With these Millennial expectations and professional desires, it’s imperative that hiring managers ask the right questions to ensure the best fit for both the new Millennial employee and the company, and listen carefully for the answer they might not expect.
The following are some questions hiring managers should consider asking Millennials who are applying for jobs, and the answers they’re likely to get.
Questions to Ask a Potential Millennial Employee
- What are your biggest motivators?
While making enough to live comfortably, pay off student loans and save for a home and retirement is important, Millennials are also motivated by the opportunity to grow professionally. They seek out employers who offer well-defined challenges and guidance on meeting their goals. They appreciate mentorship programs and developing meaningful professional relationships. Plus, they are attracted to employers who make they feel like they’re part of something bigger and help them understand how they’re contributing to the greater good in the world.
- Describe your ideal work environment.
Millennials may surprise you here. While the stereotype leans toward no dress code, ping-pong tables, free smoothies and lattes and the like, Millennials don’t need those things to be happy. For many Millennials, an ideal work environment goes back to the value they place on teamwork, open-door policies, and transparency and honesty from higher-ups.
- What do you value in a job?
The best Millennial employees will tell you they want the things they value — again, teamwork, achievable and well-defined goals, structure and frequent feedback. All of those things loop back to professional development, which Millennials say is a key component in whether they stay with a company or leave.
- How do you like to receive feedback?
The stereotype about Millennials is that they are digital addicts who shun in-person communication. But it’s not true. Studies have repeatedly shown that Millennials appreciate in-person communication and want up-front honesty from their colleagues and bosses. A Fortune/IBM study revealed that Millennials prefer face-to-face interaction and in-person coaching and mentoring when they are learning a new skill.
A common answer from a Millennial to this question might be “Frequently.” Companies that rate highly at attracting and keeping top Millennial talent are doing away with the traditional annual review and building feedback cycles into the workflow. (An MTV Millennials in the Workplace survey showed 80 percent of respondents said they liked to receive “real-time feedback” more than getting “more traditional” (often annual or semi-annual) performance reviews. From frequent testing in school to extracurricular activities, Millennials have grown accustomed to knowing how they’re doing at any given point and don’t like the uncertain feeling that comes from waiting for feedback.
- What types of things do you want in a boss?
This is a key question. Millennials were raised by a community of parents, coaches, teachers and neighbors — who believed in them, cheered them on, gave them participation trophies and sometimes acted more like friends than authority figures. Millennials may expect a similar relationship with their bosses — friendly, approachable and caring. Millennials want their bosses to look out for their best interest they way their parents did.
Understanding what Millennials want from their professional relationship with their boss — and knowing how likely the boss is to meet that expectation — can go a long way toward ensuring a mutually good fit in the workplace.