The Job Interview
...just answer the question please and don't spill your guts!


The Job Interview...do not overindulge

The classic joke about the four year old who asked where he came from is a great example of saying too much on a job interview.  As the story goes…a young boy innocently, but very confused by the fathers response, looking up at his dad after a simple explanation about where he came from, said, "I don't understand, Angela down the street came from Boston?”

It can be especially challenging to find a new job for those of us in our 50s and 60s, so be careful not to make it even more challenging handling the job interview incorrectly. Learn good interview skills.

If you are an “older” job hunter, more than likely you already know that the ultra-competitive job-search process is especially hard on you. Part of the challenge you face is a major generation gap between Baby Boomer job hunters and the Gen-X hiring managers of today. Younger managers do not want to hire their parent – unfortunately, that is how we may come across if we allow that perception to happen.

Gen-x vs. Baby Boomers

If you are an “older” job hunter, more than likely you already know that the ultra-competitive job-search process is especially hard on you. Part of the challenge you face is a major generation gap between Baby Boomer job hunters and the Gen-X hiring managers of today. Younger managers do not want to hire their parent – unfortunately, that is how we may come across if we allow that perception to happen.

When you are over 50, it is often an extremely rough task getting hired, that is, if you do not know how to handle the job interview, and have the proper responses ready and in-hand – employers may assume we are overqualified or out of touch.

They may tell you that you have too much experience (that’s the polite way of them saying you’re too old), respond with the positives…use your age and experience to your benefit…show them how your skills and experience will help you deliver for the employer immediately and why the position fits you.

Then move the conversation forward to what is most important to the interviewer…demonstrate what you can do for him or her and how quickly you will be productive and adding value. You might finish with a question of your own, asking about the most difficult and/or urgent responsibilities of the job.

The classic, “what skills and attributes does the perfect hire have, what problem is this person going to address and solve?” is a great way for you to control the interview a bit, and show your value quickly upfront.

Your Too Old!

Interviewers will try to determine how well you possess the needed types of skills and values the hiring organization is seeking during the job interview.  Make sure you can easily communicate the factors in your career, how well they have contributed to the success. That way, your background and experiences will become an integral part of a desirable professional brand – that happens to be you.

The purpose of your brand is to go beyond mere duties and job listings and get to the “what’s in it for them” benefit that will make the employer sit up and take notice.  It’s your been there done that tone that will get there notice.

Dealing with the “age factor”, is something that we will just have to do…how we do it, how we don’t let it become suck in the interviewers mind, that we’re “too old”, is best addressed upfront, quickly and as directly as possible – this will all help turn the conversation away from “age” to one of skills and knowledge.

Here are 5 Key Job Interview Tips That Will Help Turn Your "Age" Into Your Best Attribute...Not Your Worst!

I read your resume and your CLEARLY over qualified for this job...why are you here?

Many younger managers may feel uncomfortable supervising someone who is more experienced than they are – keep in mind that the person supervising you or making the hiring decision may well feel threatened by you and that you will be gunning for their job. It is important to let them know in the job interview that you are OK with the role you are applying for and that you are expecting to take direction from them.

Are you up to date with the latest technology, and use of social networks?

Although you have addressed in your cover letter, your answer can address this issue and still show that you are capable of staying on top of things in a rapidly changing workplace. Talk about examples that show how you are keeping up with technologies that affect your productivity, “I’m currently reading about…” “I just attended a weekend workshop…”

Show them that you are comfortable with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking mediums for work, especially LinkedIn.  Show them that you have an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn.com (be sure you do), and that you belong to professional networking groups through LinkedIn and monitor posts there weekly. Let them know you consider it to be a valuable tool in your professional development, and the forums helps you stay up to date with industry trends.

Be sure to demonstrate your fluency with technology in the job interview. Those of us over 50 are often perceived as being unable to effectively use technology. Make it clear to potential employers that you are tech-savvy and continuing to keep up with new developments. Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to overcome age bias is to demonstrate your comfort with technology and social media during the interview process.

Can you keep up with our fast pace office (in other words…Can you keep up with those half your age)?

Stamina or health questions may come up from time to time. These are particularly hard to speak to, and I suggest that you not provide more information than needed (remember that 4-year-old boy in the beginning of this article?) – be truthful, but do not provide more than what is asked.

What is your greatest strength?

If you know about specific skill requirements for the job, choose one of them in your reply. If not, talk about one of your key technical skills that speak to your ability to do the job. Talk about your skills and give examples that would be valued for any job (critical thinking, multitasking, creativity, teamwork, and leadership) and your professional values (energy, commitment, reliability, integrity, productivity).

What value do you bring to our organization; why should I hire you?

Money talks…B** (well you know the rest)…and it talks loudly.

Money can overcome age, so try to steer the conversation as close to money as you can when you describe who you are and what you bring to the table.  Keep in mind that all organizations have only two basic needs, revenue and productivity. Come to the interview armed with specific examples of how you can solve their money (or productivity) problem.

If you can help them, they will seek your advice and counsel. Your achievements are great examples of how to tackle the similar problems they face today. If you can show yourself to be the problem-solver they need, you will quickly rise ahead, standout from the crowd and make it to their short list of candidates.

In Summary

Gen Xer's need your help and guidance. Talk money, and focus on how you can help them produce immediate results. A younger manager would have to be very shortsighted not to explore a working relationship with someone more experienced.  Exploit your wealth of experience to make a positive difference in the lives and careers of Gen Xer's.

Develop your interview skills.

Currently, employers want to know what you value bring them – remember your hire is a reflection on them. Older job seekers may shy away from bragging about successes, but this is something that you need to be prepared for and ready to take advantage of – it is something that your younger competition cannot compete with, as they have not yet had your life experiences.

Remember...You CAN Succeed During Job Interviews With Younger Hiring Managers...How?

  • Show passion for your work
  • Use Google Alerts to help aid your research of the company and its key players
  • Show your commitment, reliance and dedication to your work
  • DO NOT sound condescending, or threatening…sometimes, “that been there done that attitude”, overdone, will make your younger, and perhaps less experienced interviewer feel threatened.

That is the fastest way of killing your chances. 

You want to come across as non-threatening, helpful, mentoring, and as someone who will add value, and help THEM succeed and grow!!!

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Nerves! 
Hi... I get nervous and start to sweat a lot when I go on interviews. Sometimes it's my hands that get sweaty and sometimes it looks like I just came …

This could only happen to me... 
Right out college and super eager to interview for this particular job, I did EVERYTHING right, at least that is what I thought. The night before I accidently …

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