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Interview Tips for Older Workers

Age can matter in job interviews - even though it shouldn't. Our experienced recruiters and professional interview coaches put together the following tips to help older workers land the offer after their interview. Keep reading!
Interview Tips for Older Workers

Applying for a job can be nerve-wracking at any age. But if you're an older worker, you might feel especially anxious about impressing a potential employer. After all, you might have more experience than the person conducting the interview, which can work against you if you're not careful.

Standing out for all the right reasons is possible at any age. Keep reading for the top job interview tips from our experienced recruiters and career coaches for seasoned professionals:

Perceptions of Older Workers

Before diving into the tips for your interview, it is important to understand the potential perceptions of older workers. Knowing the potential bias can make a huge difference in how you present yourself in the interview to fight these presumptions. The common misperceptions or biases about older workers can be:

  • Expensive
  • Not open to change
  • Stuck in their ways
  • Unwilling to learn
  • Not savvy with technology
  • Less creative
  • Can't adapt to change.

Keep these biases or misconceptions in mind as you prepare for your interview. This will help you to proactively address them in your answers and how you interact with the people in the interviewing process. Now, here are some of the tips to make sure that you present your best self in that upcoming interview:

Don't Try to Hide Your Age

Age isn't relevant to your ability to do the job and you won't get asked your age in the job interview. But, people can tell that you are older when you show up for the interview. So, don't try to hide it or try to minimize your experience. You also don't want to simply rely on your years of experience to demonstrate that you can do the jobs.

Instead, focus on what is relevant to the interview. This means preparing answers to the questions that reflect your ability to do the job and providing specific, recent examples to illustrate your answers.

Avoid Sounding "Out of Touch"

One of the biggest concerns employers have about hiring older workers is that they'll be "out of touch" with current trends or stuck in the past. You can avoid appearing "too old" by focusing on current information, trends, and examples.

Do your research before the interview and come prepared to discuss the latest industry news and developments. This will show that you're still keeping up with the times, even though you may have more experience than the other candidates.

Be Confident

Confidence is key in any interview, but it's especially important when you're competing against people that are cheaper and aren't facing the biases of being an older worker. Reflect your confidence by making eye contact, sitting up straight, and owning your experience.

You want the interviewer to see that you're confident in your abilities, even if you don't have all the same skills as a younger person. Remember, confidence is contagious so try not to let your nerves get the best of you.

Focus on the Positive

Leverage your strengths in the job interview. As a seasoned professional, you have a lot of experience to pull from to create your answers to the interview questions.

For example, if you're interviewing for a job that requires attention to detail, share a time when you went the extra mile to make sure everything was just right. If the job is fast-paced and requires quick decision-making, tell a story about a time when you had to think on your feet and what the outcome was.

You will also want to keep your body language and tone of voice positive when communicating these examples. This will engage the interviewer to make them want to know more about you and your strengths.

Be Prepared to Discuss Your Compensation Requirements

Older workers are often perceived as being more expensive than younger workers. So, be prepared to discuss your compensation requirements early on in the process. This way, you can determine if there's a fit without wasting your time or the company's time.

Not all jobs post their salary ranges and that's for a lot of different reasons. This means that you should be prepared to provide a salary range when asked. Do your research on what the market pays someone for the position in the industry at a company of a similar size. Keep in mind that what you made in the past or what you want is not relevant to what the company should pay someone for the specific job you are pursuing. It's also important to be flexible with your salary requirements.  This is why giving a wide range is important to open the door to negotiation.

You may need to accept a lower salary than you were hoping for, but keep in mind that you often have more negotiating power after you've been hired and proved yourself in the role. And, it can be easier to accept a pay cut if you look at the whole package offered by the employer. Benefits, time off, bonuses, equity/stock options, and other perks can be just as valuable as the primary compensation in many cases.

Highlight Your Relevant Skills

While you may have a wealth of experience, not all of it may be relevant to the job you're applying for. When preparing for your interview, take some time to think about the skills that are most applicable to the position and make sure to highlight those during your conversation.

For instance, if you're applying for a marketing position, focus on sharing examples of your successful campaigns rather than discussing your time spent working in customer service. The goal is to show that you have the specific skills required for the job, even if they were developed in a different industry.

Be Open to Learning New Things

Older workers sometimes get pigeonholed as being resistant to change or set in their ways. If you want to combat this perception, emphasize your willingness to learn new things during your interview. Whether it's taking on additional responsibilities or learning new software, make it clear that you're open to expanding your skillset and trying new things.

If you're asked about your experience with a particular piece of software, be honest if you haven't used it before. Then, express your willingness to learn it if given the opportunity. The key is to focus on your ability to adapt and learn new things, rather than your lack of experience with a specific tool.

Some older workers worry that they won't be able to keep up with the fast pace of change in the modern workplace. If this is a concern for you, share your strategies for staying up-to-date with industry changes. This could include attending conferences, reading trade publications, or taking continuing education courses.

Prepare for Common Job Interview Questions for Older Workers

To prepare for an upcoming interview, you will want to think about your answers to common questions. Here are some of the most common questions older workers are asked in job interviews:

"How have you handled criticism?"
"How would your colleagues describe you?"
"What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
"Why do you want this job?"
"What have you done to stay current in your field?"
"How have you handled a difficult situation at work?"
"What have been the biggest challenges in your career thus far?"
"What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our industry today?"        "Why should I hire you?"

Be sure to take some time to think about your responses to these questions before your interview. If you're not sure how to answer a particular question, ask a friend or family member for their input. The more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel during your conversation.

And, don't forget to practice your answers out loud. This will help you sound natural and conversational when you're speaking with the interviewer.

Don't Oversell Yourself

When preparing for your interview, it's important to strike a balance between highlighting your successes and sounding arrogant. You want to impress the interviewer with your accomplishments, but you don't want to come across as someone who is difficult to work with.

To avoid overselling yourself, focus on sharing specific examples of your successes. For instance, if you're asked about a time when you overcame a challenge at work, share a detailed story of what happened and how you handled it. This will give the interviewer a better sense of your abilities and how you handle difficult situations.

And, be sure to avoid using phrases like "I'm the best candidate for the job" or "No one is better qualified than me." These statements will only make you sound arrogant and could turn the interviewer off.

Highlight Your Flexibility

In today's workforce, more and more employers are looking for candidates who are flexible and adaptable. If you're applying for a job that requires occasional travel or working odd hours, be sure to highlight your flexibility during the interview.

You should also provide examples when possible that illustrate your ability to adapt. This will show the interviewer that you know how to manage change and that you continue to do it well. By emphasizing your flexibility and willingness to adapt, you'll show the interviewer that you're capable of meeting the demands of the job.

Use your experience as a strength in your next job interview. Focus on your strengths and depth of experience as a seasoned professional when answering the questions instead of simply pointing to your years of experience. Speak positively about your accomplishments and demonstrate your ability to stay current and flexible. This will show the interviewer that you are the best fit for the job and the offers will start rolling in.

Want to make sure that you put your best foot forward in your next job interview? Claim a free consultation with our experienced career coaches and experts that specialize in helping older workers with their job search by submitting your information below.