Talent Assessment: Hiring and Developing Millennials

The Talent Assessment Dilemma: Hiring and Developing Millennials


Millennials will take up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 and organisations are still struggling to understand this unique group of individuals. In the talent assessment and talent management circles, we often hear talent management professionals complain about the challenges related to hiring, on-boarding and developing millennials. Typical comments include things like: “they have no passion or drive for our company values” to “it is really difficult to motivate them” and “in my day you remained loyal to one organisation where these kids today jump between jobs every year.” When it comes to attracting, hiring, developing and retaining millennials the biggest challenge lies in getting your talent assessment house in order.



Assess Yourself First


Organisations should understand that millennials are drastically changing the nature of work and that their career trajectories will look a lot different to that of the traditional career which was typified by lifelong loyalty to a single organisation, large emphasis on title and salary and classroom training was the key method of learning.

As most millennials are preoccupied with having new and meaningful work experiences, are less concerned with climbing the organisational ladder and earn a big salary, career researchers indicate that the modern workplace is becoming more boundaryless. A boundaryless work environment refers to the preference that millennials have to move across jobs, functions, organisations, and even countries, in the pursuit of career satisfaction. Millennials who have grown up with television infomercials, Hollywood scandals and loads and loads of information on the internet have become experts at spotting ‘phonies.’ When millennials, who are looking to have satisfactory and meaningful career experiences, look at an organisation and spot that it is ‘phony’ they will take their talent and walk away. In many organisations, there is a disconnect between the organisational culture, the leaders’ behaviour and the company’s values and it is scaring away talent.

In the immortal words of Michael Jackson, “I’m gonna start with the man in the mirror.”Organisations need to rediscover their purpose, their meaning and why they have certain values up against the wall. Organisations thus need to assess themselves before they can assess others. Using methods such as having open and honest cross-organisational conversations, focus groups, job analyses, engagement questionnaires and visionary conversations, should help organisations be clear about their culture and their people requirements. If people feel that they don’t have enough meaningful experiences working for your organisation, something needs to change as you will lose talent. The job advertisement and talent screening process should align to the true culture of the organisation, because talented millennials will be unhappy and leave very quickly after the onboarding process if you gave the wrong impression of your organisation during the selection process.

Tools such as realistic job previews (which could include an accurate job description, a video of an interview with a current job incumbent or a short questionnaire) should be placed on your job portal website or LinkedIn page to help millennials screen themselves out of the process if they believe that they won’t be a good fit to your organisation.


Without Talent Assessment Data You Can’t Make Predictions


Many organisations mainly focus on the technical experience, skills and knowledge that an individual has during the selection process. Although it is important to determine whether an individual has the right background for the role, their culture-fit is absolutely critical in order to determine how satisfied someone will be and for how long and individual will remain in a role. Many organisations make the mistake to hire or promote high performing technical experts into managerial roles where, quite often, these individuals struggle because they don’t have the right behavioural competencies.

As human beings are diverse, wonderful and unique, it is paramount to use a range of different data points to make accurate predictions about their culture fit, job fit, potential performance, technical background, managerial ability, loyalty and ability. As the needs of the modern workforce (i.e. millennials) are becoming more complex and volatile, it also means you need more data about them to accurately predict how that person may behave within a professional context.

Trait-based personality psychometric tools, values psychometric tools, motivational psychometric tools, emotional intelligence psychometric tools and behavioural interviews should be used in conjunction with each other to see if an applicant aligns to the organisational culture. Biographical and technical interviews, situational judgement tests, CVSs and technical psychometric tools can be used to measure a person’s technical competence. Assessment centre simulation exercises are great to allow a person to display their learnt behaviour in a pressurised environment and cognitive ability assessments and gamified tests are good to predict the level of complexity that an individual can function in.

The more critical the role, the more data you will need in order to make an accurate prediction about how a person is likely to perform. When hiring and developing millennials, using merely a CV and an interview in the selection, development and succession processes, opens up your organisation to major risks.


Use Your Talent Data Wisely


On most of the above-mentioned assessment techniques, the data is valid for at least 12 to 24 months. However, many organisations only use the data that they gather during the hiring process to select the best candidate for the job where the data can also be used for onboarding, development and succession planning. By explaining to line managers how to utilise the data that was collected during the hiring process, you will assist them to appropriately lead, develop and onboard their new hires. Line managers would have a better understanding of how they can adapt their approach to the needs of their millennial subordinates which will ultimately assist the organisation to retain its talent. When organisations utilise their assessment data correctly, generic classroom training courses start becoming less effective than on-the-job-training, mentoring and coaching which strongly aligns to the way that millennials prefer to learn.

The assessment data that you have about your people can assist you as an organisation to become an employer of choice, to know what your competitive advantages/disadvantages are and whether you have the right talent to drive your strategy. Professional and effective millennial talent assessment is critical if you, as an organisation, wants to be efficient within the 21stcentury.


Talent Insight specialises key aspects of talent management and organisational development. Find out more about our expert services and solutions.