The millennial interview.

I was told a story a long time ago by a close friend of mine, and mentor, about what really happens when millennials go for an interview, and it was pure comedy gold with a very important punchline which I have remembered ever since. The story goes as follows: a millennial has an interview at a company and they are waiting in the reception area to be called to the room where the interview is about to take place.

The hiring manager and Human Resources manager both arrive at reception and exchange pleasantries with the candidate before showing the millennial into the room. In the room there is a typical work desk, with a set of drawers underneath it and three chairs – two behind the desk, and one in front of the desk.

The hiring manager and Human Resources manager sit behind the desk and invite the millennial candidate to take the seat in front of the desk. The hiring manager opens the interview by saying to the candidate that today they are going to be asking a number of questions in order to assess and get to know the candidate, ultimately to decide whether the candidate will be a good fit for the job role which they have open and available.

The candidate is slightly surprised, and says that they understood an interview was a two way process, and that they would like to ask the questions as well. To which the two managers reply that it would be fine for the millennial candidate to ask some questions absolutely, because it was important that they get to know the company and its culture as well.

The interview starts and the first few basic questions are asked by the two managers to the millennial. After this short period of time, the candidate has had enough and says that it is time that the table is turned and that the questions the millennial has are answered. The managers are taken back by this, but agree nevertheless.

The millennial asks their first questions which is “please can you tell me about how you manage flexible working arrangements, and how many days a week are employees required to be in the office”. The managers both smile, and the Human Resources manager says that the question is very easy and that they will share the answer. The Human Resources manager reaches into their jacket pocket and pulls out a key, reaches under the desk, and proceeds to unlock the set of draws. They put their hand into the drawers and take out a big red A4 binder which is stacked full of sheets of paper. This massive binder they say proudly is the company handbook, and the answer to the question about flexible working arrangements is inside.

The Human Resources manager flips through the heavy binder, and finally settles upon page 324 of the binder and proceeds to read a few paragraphs of policy about flexible working. Smiling from ear to ear at the response, the Human Resources manager thinks it has been a job well done.

The millennial is less than impressed by this, as the answer is simply reading out a policy, rather than an explanation of what it is really like in practice to work in the company. So, the millennial says “OK, let me try one more time, I really want to understand the culture of this place, so could you perhaps explain to me how you handle things when people return to the office after maternity leave”.

This time, the hiring manager has a chance to reply. And, taking the heavy binder from in front of the Human Resources manager, the hiring manager proceeds to check the index to this massive lump of paperwork and find page 267 which has the details of the company maternity policy. Again, the answer is delivered the same way, a few paragraphs of the policy are read out.

Then, the interview comes to its natural conclusion following a few further questions in the typical way, from employer to candidate. At the end of the interview, the managers stand up and thank the millennial for taking part in the selection process, and insist that feedback on either a positive outcome with a job offer, or a negative one with someone else being chosen, will be shared within a few days.

The millennial stands up and shakes the hands of the two managers before saying that they too will be sharing feedback. This time, the feedback would be about the company, its recruitment process, and its culture and that the reviews would be posted onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

The moral of the story is that whilst employers used to have the pick of the talent, it is now the other way around, and with social media and the internet, talented candidates are no longer afraid to share their own opinions of companies with the rest of the world.

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