Interviews are stressful at any age, but much more so if you are bogged down by fears of age bias. The secret of having a good interview is in selling your strengths—and that means being positive and parking your baggage at the door.
See also: Write a winning resume.
If you take time to research the employer, to anticipate questions, and to prepare your talking points, you’re well on your way to success.
What to Expect
- De-stress yourself before the interview. Use relaxation techniques, such as exercise, deep breathing, visualization, or whatever works for you (excluding a stiff drink!).
- Employers want to know you’re a good fit. Be prepared to answer this question: How will hiring you add to the success of our organization?
- If you can, find out who will be interviewing you and whether it’s an individual or a group interview. Know that there’s a good chance the interviewer will be younger than you.
- You may be asked how you would respond to specific situations (often referred to as behavioral interviewing). For example: “Tell me about a time when you were faced with making a difficult decision.” Cite examples from recent jobs.
What to Say and What Not to Say
- Focus on skills and achievements rather than on your many years of experience. Talk only about your accomplishments that relate to this particular job.
- Respond to questions directly, but limit your answers to what was asked. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question.
- Learn and use the current language and terminology in the field. Industry jargon may have changed since you last interviewed for a job.
- Never say anything negative about former employers or coworkers.
Anticipate Age-Related Questions
- “Aren’t you overqualified?” Explain why you’re interested in this job and this employer at this time in your career. Focus on what you bring to the job.
- “Will you be comfortable working for someone younger?” Stress your ability to work with people of all ages, with examples from your recent work history.
- “You haven’t worked for a long time. Why is that?” Be matter-of-fact in explaining employment gaps. Emphasize skills gained through volunteering, raising a family, or caregiving.