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“JOB INTERVIEWING 101” FOR OLDER WORKERS

“JOB INTERVIEWING 101” FOR OLDER WORKERS

“JOB INTERVIEWING 101” FOR OLDER WORKERS

If you are in your 50s or older, the job market can be a tricky place to navigate. Mature workers changing jobs, or ending a period of unemployment have to do some careful planning and research. It is also important to have a real understanding of what persuades an employer to hire an applicant who is somewhat older than most of the staff. Last week we offered some useful tips on creating your resume. But even with the best planning and a great resume, your face to face meeting with the hiring agent may be the real key to landing the job. Here are a few tips that may help you ace your interview:

  • Do your homework: Before your interview, research the company. Spend time on the company’s website to determine as much as you can about its products or services. Pay attention to the “About Us” section to see how the company describes itself and positions itself in the marketplace. If there is a section for investors, read through it to determine the company’s financial standing. This section may also report any plans for expansion. Also search the web for recent articles about the company. All of this will help you be more conversant with the interviewer about the organization, and chances are he or she will be impressed with your knowledge of the company.
  • Be prepared for common questions: Prepare your answers in advance to questions you are most likely to be asked. “Why do you want to work for us?” “What experience do you have that will relate to this position?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?” As for the last two questions, the interviewer is asking about your strengths and weaknesses that directly relate to the job for which you are applying. Try not to be caught off guard by inevitable questions such as these. Keep your answers brief and substantive.
  • The age factor: It is often likely that the interviewer will be younger than you. Your best bet is to keep age out of the conversation. If you are a qualified candidate, focus the conversation on your abilities and your experience. Avoid statements such as “I’ve been in this business since you were in grade school,” or “I guess most people you interview are much younger than I am.” Such statements tend to either intimidate or turn off the interviewer. He or she may be accustomed to interviewing younger people, but age only becomes an issue when you bring it up. The interviewer will probably not approach the subject because it borders on discrimination to focus on an applicant’s age.
  • Technology: Before the interview, determine what type of technology you are likely to be required to use in the position for which you apply. For example, if you are applying for a job as a sales manager, it is likely you will have to conduct meetings which will require you to use presentation software (e.g. Powerpoint). If you are applying for an administrative assistant position, you will need to use standard office software. You will be asked in the interview about your technology skills. Be honest in your responses, but be sure you are proficient in the use of appropriate software before you apply for jobs that require their use.
  • Look the part: Your appearance matters. You do not need to look younger than you are, but you should look the best you can for your age. Regardless of the job type for which you apply, conservative business attire is always best for an interview. Avoid extremes in hair styles, makeup, jewelry, etc. You want the focus to be on your skills and experience, and not on your attire. If you are applying for a job in which you will have direct contact with the public, the interviewer will want to see that you know how to appropriately present yourself.
  • Have your questions ready: Your interviewer will ask if you have any questions. Your answer should always be “Yes.” Prepare questions in advance that relate directly the job requirements, the company’s future plans, and opportunities for advancement. The interviewer may be impressed by your sincere interest in these items. Avoid questions about everyday items such as parking, time off, etc. Those subjects can be approached later, once you are hired for the position. This interview should focus exclusively on your skills, experience, and the requirements of the job.
  • Follow up: Ask the interviewer when a hiring decision will be made. Contact the interviewer before the anticipated hiring date. “I am calling to follow up on my interview of last week, and I’d like to know if you have made a decision about the position.” Most people do not follow up, so the interviewer may be impressed that you took the time to once again express your interest in the job. If the interviewer indicates that someone else has been hired for the position, leave on good terms: “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I hope you will keep me in mind for future openings.” Statements such as these show professionalism, which can go a long way in securing employment.

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