Today’s workforce is evolving right before our eyes – baby boomers continue to retire and younger generations are starting to fill the gaps. Employers must evolve right alongside their new workforce, understanding that these generations carry different values and desires in comparison to their predecessors.

The two newer generations we’re speaking of include Generation Y (aka millennials) and Generation Z. Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996; Generation Z encompasses anyone born after that. Both generations have distinctive characteristics that play a huge role in how they prioritize their decisions. It's important for employers to understand these characteristics so they can appeal to potential hires.

Generational Characteristics

Millennials

  • Tech-savvy. Millennials were raised with technology and prefer to integrate it into their lives as often as possible, making them both adept and knowledgeable.
  • Family/Community Oriented. As a rule, millennials value their family, friends and community above their careers. This means they seek better work/life balance and flexible schedules in comparison to high pay.
  • Emphasize Self-Worth. Millennials value their time and energy. They’ve witnessed their parents endure frightening shifts in corporate culture including worker exploitation, devaluation of seniority, etc. They will not hesitate to take their skills elsewhere if they do not feel secure and empowered by their employer.

Generation Z

  • Technologically Advanced. Electronics have been at the forefront of this generation’s development. It is likely a comfort zone, a type of second nature.
  • Independent. Gen Z elude the entrepreneurial spirit, striving for self-autonomy and independence.
  • Short Attention Span. With infinite knowledge available at their fingertips, Gen Zers tend to have an attention span of only 8 seconds. They appreciate challenges and hard deadlines to keep them on track.

5 Questions for Millennials and Gen Z

1.What Type of Office Do You Prefer?

Millennials value company culture that aligns with their personality – making it vital for the interviewer to identify these specificities. There are several office styles in today’s world: flex time, telecommuting/remote hours, rigid 9-5 structures, etc. If your office style doesn’t mesh with their preference, they probably won’t last long in their role.

2.Do You Work Better Alone or With Others?

Millennials are confident in their conversational and inclusive personalities. Asking them this question will reveal how well they will collaboratively work with others on your team. Be sure to ask them how they’ve dealt with diverse opinions, asking for a real-life example.  

3.When Was the Last Time You Felt Overwhelmed In Your Role?

Everyone has been trained to face the interview question: What is your greatest weakness? Younger generations may feel trapped by this question, pressured into answering with a positive response that often feels forced. Instead, by reworking the question to allow for more interpretation, you are able to see if the candidate is capable of objectivity and introspection.

4.What Type of Boss-Employee Work Relationship Do You Anticipate?

Be sure to ask the candidate if they expect a hands-on approach from their bosses or if they prefer more autonomy. Millennials and Gen Zers often prefer frequent positive feedback, so ensure that you have those types of reporting structures available as this will be key to their overall productivity. Also, since younger generations tend to prefer meaningful personal connections over hierarchy, a boss that is more friendly, socially active and in tune with them will create a better work environment for them.

5.What Title Do You Aspire to Achieve in 5 Years?

Younger generations seem to have ample ambition – they think the sky is the limit! This question will help you gauge just how much ambition they have and allow you to set realistic expectations. Most candidates want more than the position they are interviewing for, so this question shows that you are willing to facilitate their achievements and provide them with the guidance they need to achieve their goals.


An interview gives both the candidate and the employer an opportunity to grow and succeed. At Rockford Mutual, the relentless pursuit of excellence is one of our core values. Have you considered a rewarding career in insurance? Learn more about our career opportunities!

For protection at home, on the road and on the go - find an RMIC agent near you:

Get a Quote

Blog Contributor Amy Ingram
Amy Casey
Social Media & Communications Coordinator
Amy joined Rockford Mutual in January of 2017 with an Associates Degree in Marketing. Amy has a great understanding of insurance in general as she is currently working towards an Associate in General Insurance designation.