4 Soft Skills To Identify When Hiring Millennials

In the U.S., millennials now make up the largest segment of the workforce, and as they continue to enter the job market, employers may find it challenging to hire the brightest of this generation.  While you may look for an experienced candidate, hiring millennials requires a new formula for identifying talent.  In this new pool of candidates, companies must begin to understand that it’s the soft skills that will define a future leader.  While they may not be ready to lead tomorrow, when you hire for potential instead of experience, you may just find that millennials will pleasantly surprise you—and you’ll secure the future of your organization in a millennial-dominated workforce.

In order to identify growth potential in a millennial job seeker, look for these four soft skills during the hiring process:

1. Leadership Skills

While millennials may not have the desired management experience you would look for in a leader, there are other ways to identify an emerging leader in the hiring process.

On the resume, look for:

  • Trained
  • Advised
  • Directed

In an interview, ask: Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?

Evaluate: If they took initiative, whether they took ownership of their work, how passionate they felt about the project, if they seemed to work well with others, and if they accomplished a successful result.

2. Communication Skills

Because effective communication is the foundation of a productive organization, it is crucial to identify millennials who have harnessed this skill. 

On the resume, look for:

  • Negotiated
  • Consulted
  • Collaborated

In an interview, ask: Have you ever had a disagreement with another employee at work?  How did you resolve it?

Evaluate: If they clearly articulated their issue with their coworker, and whether they were able to resolve the problem without it escalating.  If they say they’ve never had a disagreement, it may be a red flag.

Throughout the hiring process: You can easily evaluate communication skills through emails and interviews as well!

3. Problem Solving + Critical Thinking

It’s one thing to know that an employee can carry out their responsibilities under normal circumstances, but you also need to feel confident in their ability to perform under pressure. 

On the resume, look for:

  • Resolved
  • Improved
  • Orchestrated

In an interview, ask: Can you describe a project where you ran into an unforeseen issue? How did you approach the situation?

Evaluate: How they identify challenges, think on their feet, and analyze a complex situation. If they can’t articulate their thought process or sought direction from a 3rd party, they may not be the self-starter that you need in a critical situation.   

4. Accountability

Employees who feel accountable for their work, take initiative, and follow through are committed to the organization’s goals.

On the resume, look for:

  • Created
  • Authored
  • Contributed

In an interview, ask: Tell me about a time you made a mistake. What did you learn?

Evaluate: Where they place the blame.  If they view the mistake as a learning experience, this is a positive sign that they take ownership of their work. Conversely, if they point their finger at others—or say they couldn’t have done anything differently—you may want to tread carefully.  

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