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How to Ace the Job Interview

Don't be afraid to sell your strengths

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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.

Next: How to tackle salary questions. >>

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