Interviewing Millennials: One Question to Ask Millennial Candidates

The term Millennials refers to the generation that most researchers and commentators state were born from the early 1980s to around 2000 ( In layman’s terms this is the generation that grew up with easily accessible electronics, the Internet, and social media. This is also the generation that is often criticized for expecting participation trophies.  When Millennials ask why, they are used to having the answers right at their fingertips. 

In my research, I came across a website that brings up an interesting question to ask a Millennial in a job interview: “Tell me about a time you failed.” The full article goes into why this is such a good question to ask a candidate of this generation. I think this is an excellent question for a hiring manager to ask; because rather than identifying Millennials’ technical skills, where they flourish, you are starting to see how this candidate is going to respond when things do not go their way. Are they going to accept the fact they did not do something correctly and make the corrective actions to learn from their mistake? Or will the “participation trophy” Millennial rear its ugly head and place the blame on someone/something else and not accept that there was a better way to do things. This can help you gauge a lot about how the interviewee takes constructive criticism and works within a team environment.  

A staggering stat from a LinkedIn blog article states, “Over the last 20 years, the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled. People who graduated between 1986 and 1990 averaged more than 1.6 jobs, and people who graduated between 2006 and 2010 averaged nearly 2.85 jobs.” This shows that Millennials could be using their current role to get a promotion or their next big position. “A new role often comes with a more elevated title and a substantial pay raise (15% or more versus 1 to 3% by someone staying in their current role).” (CNN Money)

In my opinion, these concerns could be vetted in the interview process by asking that one question earlier discussed in this blog, “tell me about a time you failed.” This question is not an end all, but I think this question represents the type of Millennial you are interviewing. Someone who is using your current opening for their next career step or someone who you and your company can invest in to help grow.




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