I am a failure at hiring Generation-Y. Help!

Dear Aunty B

We run a cool design studio and people love working here. But recently I have had huge trouble filling junior positions. I hired a young woman as my PA. She showed up for one day’s work and then rang the next morning to say that after one day on the job, she wouldn’t be coming back! She thought the PA job had more “design” in it!


All the other candidates for the job were totally unsuitable.

When I asked them questions about how they might perform the secretarial tasks, they didn’t bother answering. Instead they told me what they expected from the job.

Do I have to take one of these self obsessed Gen-Ys, or do I advertise again?

Also, any tips for the interview so that I end up hiring the right person?




Dear Desperate,

Are you nuts? Listen, you don’t interview a Gen-Y for a job. They interview you!


Here is how a typical Gen-Y interview should go:


    Gen-Y: Nice to meet you. Like your suit. Amarni? Now don’t be nervous. Just a few questions.
    Boss: Sure.
    Gen-Y: Let’s start with pay. How much? It’s not that I care about money at all. But I do care about work-life balance… and you have to have a certain lifestyle to achieve the right balance…
    Boss: Of course.
    Gen-Y: And while we are on the subject; hours. I can’t start until 9.30 as I am running a small eBay business and need to be talking to the US first thing in the morning by Skype which I have to do from home so…
    Boss: I completely understand.
    Gen-Y: And I like a regular lunch break at the same time every day because I do pilates which is sooo important.
    Boss: Umm, sure, can I get you a glass of water?
    Gen-Y: Is it tap? I don’t drink tap.
    Boss: Of course… we’re getting imported water from Italy in next week…
    Gen-Y: Are those your office chairs?
    Boss: Yes…
    Gen-Y: I only sit on a fitball – and I prefer pink although I’m not fussy.
    Boss: We can do pink.
    Gen-Y: Would I sit there, near you?
    Boss: Yes…
    Gen-Y: That wouldn’t suit. I have a sensitive back so I need to do stretching every 10 minutes so I should probably have that office over there. Hope that’s not a problem…
    Boss: No…
    Gen-Y: I am very ambitious. How quickly can I get promoted and earn more than you?
    Boss: Not long at all…
    Gen-Y: That was a joke, but that’s good to hear anyway. There isn’t much point discussing the job. I don’t expect to be doing it for long, as I have plans to travel next year – some volunteer work in the States that hopefully will lead to a high profile job at the UN. But back to me – I was thinking about my title.
    Boss: Yes…
    Gen-Y: Of course no one knows what a PA does anymore, so I am thinking Executive (administration) on my business card.
    Boss: Absolutely.
    Gen-Y: And of course you will be mentoring me as I need to grow in this job…
    Boss: Of course.
    Gen-Y: And I need a copy of your environmental policy…
    Boss: Ummm.
    Gen-Y: It is sooo important to be Green.
    Boss: We love Green.
    Gen-Y: Cool. We could get the walls painted… I am thinking a nice lime… Oh, is that the time? Do you mind calling me a taxi? I’m running late for my next interview…


So Desperate, here are my tips:


  1. Let them interview you.
  2. Offer good money. They say it doesn’t matter, but that’s crap.
  3. Tell them how good your organisation is and why they will make a huge difference to it.
  4. Point out that there is no hierarchy.
  5. Offer them flexibility in start and finish times.
  6. Show them a career path.
  7. Tell them they will get a mentor who will help them grow.
  8. Make sure there are some fun events – barbies on Friday, a personal trainer one day a week.
  9. Tell them everyone is equal and they are more equal than everyone else.


And remember this is only going to get a whole lot worse when the next generation – the Gen-Y-nots – enter the workforce.



Your Aunty B

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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