How the Job Interview Has Changed for Younger Generations

The world has changed quite a bit since the Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers were the most prominent generations in the workforce. We are now smack dab in the middle of the Millennials’ and Generation Z’s times in the spotlight. Technology has helped to shape new hiring processes, but there are also other ways recruitment for younger generations has changed dramatically.

Millennials and Generation Z

The younger generations differ from the old in many remarkable ways. First, they grew up in a period of technological explosion and social connection. They have never lived in a world without cell phones and social media. It is unthinkable for a young person to be unplugged, and they are under tremendous pressure, constantly bombarded with texts, emails, and social interaction.

The flip side is, millennials and Generation Z individuals are also the most isolated and lonely. Many millennials suffer from emotional issues and anxiety. Too much change has taken place too quickly, and due to societal trends, these young people feel judged continuously and compare themselves to reality TV actors or influencers on Instagram. Because millennials are always plugged in and turned on, they don’t know what information is accurate or correct. It’s hard for them to trust.

Brought up in a world of instant gratification and very little hardship, younger generations have expectations for the world that are not always realistic. Because they live in a “new is better” world, it’s hard for them to appreciate things. The superficial offerings of social media and TV have done them a disservice which they are now struggling to live up to.

Accommodating the value shift of younger generations employers have changed how they find, recruit, and interview potential candidates.

The New Interview Process

Job interview processes have changed radically. For starters, they are much quicker. In many cases the applicant will never set foot in the door. Using Skype, Google Hangout, or Zoom, hiring managers can recruit from all over the world and interview easily without any travel involved.

Younger applicants should be prepared for testing. Even for entry-level jobs, candidates will be expected to take writing, software, or job-specific assessments before even getting an interview. Since lying on a resume is common, they want to be sure you can do the job before they take the time to speak with you.

For most jobs you will also be expected to have thoroughly researched the company that is interviewing you. They will have done the same and, after checking social media and other online resources, know all about you. They will ask you detailed questions to verify that you researched them and what they are all about.

Competition in the job market these days is fierce. You will need to come to the table with a solid strategy proving how you can contribute and make a difference over the other applicants. Don’t shy away from having your own portfolio website to showcase your talents. Today it is all about branding. Brand yourself for potential employers, and it might be the edge up you need to get the job.

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Common Interview Questions

Historically job applicants would show up in person, hand a recruiter their resume, and answer some typical questions like “What can you tell me about yourself?” These days employers want to dig deeper and find out more about the real you before they invest their money in hiring you. In order to meet potential employers’ expectations, applicants need to know how to answer job interview questions.

One staple question that remains is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” This question is a good one because it forces the applicant to honestly evaluate what they believe to be their best and worst traits. Employers sometimes pose scenario questions to test problem-solving skills such as, “Tell me about a situation where you encountered an angry client — how did you handle it?” The answer to this question gives the recruiter a lot of insight.

Millennials should also prepare for in-depth job-specific questions. For example, someone applying for an accounting job might hear interview questions like: “Which enterprise resource planning systems have you used?” Or something like, “Are you familiar with the accounting standards?”

Generic questions are less common these days, as employers want to maximise their efforts to find a perfect match for their open position.

Emotional Intelligence Is the New Yardstick

The majority of companies these days are having potential candidates take personality assessments. The Myers-Briggs test is a popular one because it accurately identifies personality traits to help match up someone’s natural style with the correct position where they can excel. That particular test uses six groupings to determine personality mapping; they are: “Extraversion vs. Introversion,” “Intuition vs. Sensing,” “Thinking vs. Feeling,” and “Judging vs. Perceiving.”

Today’s hiring professionals put a priority on emotional intelligence (EI) over intelligence. This is borne out by the 71 percent of hiring managers who report that EI is more important than IQ. One in three managers uses EI in their hiring process. Almost 60 percent claim they wouldn’t hire someone with a high IQ and a low EI.

Most jobs include stress. It’s all about how you handle it. Individuals with high EI skills can generally manage their own stress and others around them by staying calm, thinking clearly and making sound decisions. Those same people tend to lead by example, can be emphatic to co-workers, and are good at resolving conflicts. It is easy to see why those skills would benefit just about any position but especially management jobs.

The Employer Side of Hiring Young People

Technology has helped streamline the recruitment process for employers. Instead of groups of applicants coming in for an in-person interview, most things can be handled by email, texting, and online video. It’s quicker and easier than ever to recruit, select, and hire younger applicants.

What is relevant to many younger applicants is corporate culture. It’s not just enough for a company to offer a good position with an attractive salary and benefits. They also must “sell” their culture, and it should appeal to the values of millennials.

When crafting job applications, millennials expect details. Generic job descriptions won’t get the response they once would have. Younger people are aiming for specialised jobs in niche markets. Everything is done digitally too, so when posting job offerings, you have to go where the crowd is — and nowadays that is social media.

Both younger managers working in corporate America and the available applicants have combined to shape this new way of recruitment, job interviewing, and hiring. How will Generation Z and emergent technologies continue to shape job recruitment processes? Time will tell, but it’s essential to follow these developments in order to compete in the job market.

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