How to hire Gen Y

How to hire Gen Y

Get beyond the stereotypes and secure the best Gen-Y talent.

Not since the boomers has an entire generation been caricatured and stereotyped to levels verging on myth. Compared to previous generations, Gen-Y has been described as more narcissistic, less community involved, more technology savvy, more materialistic, less stable in their career paths and more. So much has been said about Gen-Y, or millennials, and their radically different work ethic, values and motivesthat these popular depictions have spawnedmisplaced assumptions about just how to successfully add and integrate them into today’sworkplace cultures.

Millennialswill make up roughly 1-in-3 job candidates, or 36% of the workforce by 2014. The inevitability of a large contingent of your workforce being made up of millennials has raised the stakes.It’snow more apparent than ever for businesses to embrace better hiring and retention methods to overcome prevailing biases (either for or against) Gen-Y workers. Overcoming generational differences and expectations requires adopting more objective, strategic recruitment practices to ensure you secure the best Gen-Y talent. Here’s how to do it.


In addition to specifying the “hard” requirements for a job position (i.e., education, past roles, responsibilities and workplace experience), take the time to clearly define what behaviours are expected of a candidate in their new role. What kind of pressures will they face? What kind of pace should they be able to cope with for meeting internal deadlines? Should they act autonomously or in concert with the team? Have immediate supervisors, senior members of management familiar with the position, past incumbents and direct-reports, discuss and gain consensus on what behaviours are needed.

Examples of behavioural requirements for a job position may be: patient or driven, competitive or supportive, analytical or sociable, etc. Once identified, specify these behaviours in the job posting. Gen-Y candidates can then assess for themselves whether their behavioural tendencies will fit your business environment.


Now that you’ve defined both the hard and soft requirements of the position for the job posting, jot down in detail what your ideal candidate looks like. Was there a current or former employee who was exceptional at fulfilling the demands of the role? What made them stand out and why? Sketching your ideal candidate provides a benchmark to reference during the interview process. At the level of the individual candidate, perceptions about generational differences tend to fall away.


We tend to hire people like ourselves. Perceived differences in interviewees can inhibit our judging a millennial candidate fairly. Supplement your in-person interviews with a behavioural assessment tool such as McQuaig to objectively determine a Gen-Y candidate’s temperament. Temperament refers to those regular tendencies and inclinations peculiar to an individual; their natural disposition for responding to various situations.

A candidate’s temperament is especially difficult to assess in interview situations because they will present themselves in the best possible light. A behavioural assessment eliminates the guesswork behind identifying a right-fit candidate and reduces your reliance on gut feelings when making a hiring decision.


A behavioural assessment tool will continue to play an integral role for managers helping younger employees meet their maximum potential. The initial pre-employment assessment’s results will enable your newly hired Gen-Y employee to identify their strengths and leverage themby developing on-the-job action items to implement in their role. Conversely, findings from the assessment will also enable him or her to diagnose areas for individual professional improvement, including potential obstacles or barriers to their success, and ways to overcome those obstacles. Managers can then assess your new-hire’s progress on meeting developmental outcomes.


The rapidly aging workforceis profoundly impacting businesses and workplace cultures. The most experienced workers will retire and the competition for talent will intensify. The survival of your organization depends on your ability to attract, retain, motivate and develop the millennials who will become your organization’s future leaders. To do this, you must have the right hiring tools and processes in place that can support Gen-Y throughout the entire employee life-cycle: from pre-hire analysis, to coaching and orientation, to on-going development and succession planning.


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