How to interview Generation Z

Interviewing generation Z

Young adults are the lifeblood of business. Gen Z already makes up a quarter of the global workforce. Born between 1997 and 2010, these are true digital natives, highly flexible and well educated – over 8 in 10 are graduates. They bring with them a new approach to life and work, and you need them in your organisation.

But since most adults in their early twenties have little job experience to call upon, when recruiting young people, you need to find creative ways of delving into their values a little more.  


When used to the more relaxed environment of further education or even sixth form, turning up on time and putting your job as a priority can come as a shock. A great way to check reliability is to ask them to talk about situations in which others have depended on them. They might have been in charge of a project or a team leader in sports, for example. You are looking for signs that they recognise that their reliability impacts on others in the team


A high level of honesty is important, particularly if the job you are recruiting for involves handling cash. To get a measure of the applicant’s integrity, you could ask about situations in which they had to do the right thing, for example, if they saw somebody cheating or being bullied or handing in lost items they may have found.

Working in a team

Most roles for younger people will involve working as part of a larger and more experienced team. Look for examples where the candidate has been part of a group project at school or uni. Do they enjoy team sports? Get them to explain what they like and dislike about working with others. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that 83% of the employers surveyed saw teamwork as a top priority when assessing entry-level job seekers, so it’s clear that working effectively with others is important.

Customer focus

In the same survey, 78% said that a strong customer focus is crucial for young people joining their organisations. Many candidates may have had part-time jobs at the weekend or during university, typically bar or restaurant work, and so may well be able to demonstrate customer service experience. Delve into the way they might have sorted out customer

problems or dealt with potentially difficult situations.

Showing respect to others

The modern workplace is increasingly diverse, and it goes without saying that young candidates must be able to show respect to their colleagues and customers. Fortunately, Gen Z is a highly tolerant and ethically-minded group of people. A study by Intel found the majority of them would be hesitant to even consider a job in an organisation that is not diversely represented at senior level. This aspect is as important as pay to them.

Organisations that are serious about employing young people can sign up to the Good Youth Employment charter, an initiative developed by Youth Employment UK, a non-profit organisation tackling youth unemployment. The organisation provides support and advice on the employment of young adults.  

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