This one interview strategy is how you attract young, diverse talent

The founder of recruiting startup WayUp shares her insights on how to make a good impression on young recruits.

This one interview strategy is how you attract young, diverse talent
[Photo: Joel Muniz/Unsplash]

The coronavirus pandemic radically disrupted the recruiting world in 2020. Several of these changes will stick, including companies’ growing use of technology in the vetting process.


Those companies that successfully recruit millennial and Gen Z candidates will have one thing in common: prioritizing the virtual candidate experience. Specifically, companies that focus on a virtual experience show candidates they matter to these organizations, even if ultimately they’re not selected for the job. The employers who are thoughtful about this will gain a competitive advantage—attracting more diverse candidates.

Recently, I spoke with Liz Wessel, the CEO of recruiting startup WayUp, on how to attract early-career hires. In addition to Liz’s thoughtful insights, she shared findings from WayUp’s 2019 survey, detailing Gen Z and millennial candidate preferences. The survey included 363 students enrolled at U.S. universities, who are between the ages of 18 and 25 years old and mainly completing their bachelor’s degree.

WayUp’s survey findings revealed millennial and Gen Z job seekers’ preferences, emphasizing women and minority candidates. From Wessel, I learned the companies that attract diverse candidates are able to because they use one of the following recruitment techniques:

  • They consider their employer brand
  • They offer flexible interview schedules
  • They share personalized feedback
  • They provide a human connection

Here is the rationale for considering each of these strategies.

Employer branding

An important aspect of the applicant experience is the appeal and strength of an employer’s brand. In a virtual setting, you want to put additional thought and care into crafting this position.


One question to consider: If candidates were asked to describe what your company stands for, how would they answer? In the survey from WayUp, 86% of Gen Z candidates cite a company’s commitment to diversity as a leading factor in deciding whether or not to accept an offer.

“Commitment to diversity is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have if you want to hire top talent,” says Wessel. “Gen Z is the most racially diverse generation out there, and they care about working at a company that values diversity.”


One of the most effective ways companies can prioritize the candidate experience and attract diverse candidates is to offer various interview time slots. WayUp found that over 90% of the people who scheduled outside of business hours were Black, Latinx, and female candidates. Why? One big reason is likely that nearly six million low-income students work while they’re in college.

According to Wessel, “These working students are disproportionately Black, Latinx, and first-generation college students, and they’re more likely to be working over 15 hours a week [on top of school]—which leaves them less time to schedule interviews during traditional business hours.”

Human connection

Many companies utilize AI to improve the efficiency of the recruitment process. However, candidates are uncertain about the integrity of the software. For example, WayUp’s research found 75% of Black and Latinx women were not comfortable if an algorithm (and not an actual person) were the sole judge of their interview performance.


Additionally, the same research found that 82% of Black and Latinx students preferred a phone conversation (with a real person) over a recorded, one-way video interview.

“While there is a place for AI in recruitment, Gen Z and millennials do not want it to replace people at any stage of your interview. Using [AI] in a first-round interview will hurt your diversity goals,” said Wessel.


Aside from preferring live over recorded interviews, companies should do their best to provide candidates personalized feedback and timely responses. By sharing feedback, companies can facilitate candidates’ finding their first or next role. “Guiding candidates throughout the process makes them feel heard, builds their confidence, and helps early-career candidates get more experience interviewing,” said Wessel.

Companies that prioritize the candidate experience will attract more millennial and Gen Z candidates. How your company meaningfully adjusts to attract this crucial segment will impact the diversity and productivity of your organization.

Kyra Leigh Sutton, PhD, is a faculty member at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her research interests include the development and retention of early-career employees.