At a certain point in each career, interviewing for a new job may feel a bit “been there, done that.” After all, it's not uncommon for people to switch jobs more than a dozen times over the course of their careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Interviews sometimes may feel familiar and even perfunctory.
But there are some common mistakes that people age 50 and older need to watch out for, says human resources (HR) expert and consultant Diane N. Gallo. Some of the approaches you used earlier in your career might not work now because of how the hiring process has changed, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic started. “Many [mistakes made] are in relation to presentation, some technology,” she says.
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Here are nine common missteps mid-career job seekers make in interviews, along with tips to help you avoid these errors.
1. Inexperienced using video technology
Even before the pandemic, recruiters and hiring managers were shifting to video interviews, especially in the early rounds of decisions. By now, employers will expect you to be comfortable with this technology, Gallo says. Ask about the platform the interviewer will be using — often Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet — and do a couple of practice sessions using that particular technology. Usually, you can download the platform free of charge and ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you. Learn how to mute and unmute yourself, and explore some of the platform's other bells and whistles such as chat messaging and video backgrounds so you look knowledgeable, she says.
While you're job seeking, you may also want to subscribe to a high-speed internet connection, if you don't already have one. Job interviews can be tense enough even without the video glitches that can happen with a slow Wi-Fi signal. If you need financial assistance paying for high-speed internet, consider using the federal Electronic Broadband Benefit.
2. Ignoring ‘production values’ in video interviews
While you're testing out the video platform, pay attention to the way you look on screen, Gallo says. Planning a good video interview today means being a bit of a multimedia producer, too. Find a quiet place to do the interview that has a comfortable chair and an attractive background without too much clutter.
Elevate your laptop so that you're not looking down at its camera and ensure you have proper lighting so you look ready for your closeup, Gallo adds. Investing in an inexpensive “ring” light — available online for $20 or less — produces a flattering effect that helps you look your best on camera, she says.
Pay attention to your appearance for a video interview the same way you would for an in-person interview, Gallo says. If you need a good haircut, get one. Make sure you look neat and professional, not overdressed. And test how your outfit looks on camera. “Big prints don't work really well. And you might not think of that, because that may be how you normally dress,” she says. Treat your video interview with every bit of seriousness you would an in-person interview and prepare accordingly.
3. Disregarding pandemic safety measures
If your interview is in person, be sure to ask about any COVID-19 provisions that the office has in place, Gallo says. Find out if you are required to wear a mask or abide by other rules and requests — and do so. Many offices have gone to great lengths to put measures in place to keep employees safe, and this is your chance to show you're both a team player and attentive to details.
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