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Coping With a Job Interview at Age 50 Plus

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Job Interview Age Candidate Position

The road to job success starts first by earning a job interview, and then making sure that you manage to convince the interviewers that you are the best candidate for the job.

First the good news, recent studies have concluded that older workers (aged between 55 and 70) are the fastest growing group in the workforce.

The likely downside of this is, however, is that there will be increased competition for each role that you apply for. Therefore, your performance during the job interview takes on even greater importance, as this is your big chance to create a good impression.

Know the Potential Pitfalls

Rejecting a prospective job candidate on the grounds of their age may be illegal, but if you ask anyone over the age of 50 and the chances are that they will probably tell you that, despite what the law says, there have been times where they felt discriminated against because of their age.. A job interview is no exception.

To be forewarned, however, is to be forearmed. If you are over the age of 50 and applying for jobs it is important for you to understand the possible negative perceptions that you may have to deal with, and to learn ways to overcome them.

Examples could include a perceived lack of adaptability, lack of current market knowledge, an inability to relate to younger team members and being unable to handle the pace of the working environment.

The Importance of Acting ‘Age-Neutral’

Obviously there’s nothing you can do about your age, and there’s certainly no point lying about it at your interview. What you should try to do during the interview is to make sure that your advanced years do not look like a hindrance to you.

As people age, their bodies produce less of a substance called seratonin. This makes senior people more short-tempered and less energetic.

Whilst it is important to be yourself and act natural during an interview think about ways to ensure that you do not come across as stressed, intense or tired.

Focus on your body language, make sure that you always sit up straight during an interview and, if you find yourself getting more tired towards the end of the day, try to schedule your interview to take place in the morning instead.

You do not want to draw attention to your age, or present it in a negative light, and instead you want your interviewer to focus on your skills and abilities instead, so come to the interview prepared with examples of recent successes rather than older ones.

Try to avoid talking about anything that could prejudice the interviewer or reinforce any age bias they may have, or leave them with the impression that you may not be looking for a long-term position. For example, keep to yourself any plans for early retirement, desires to travel, the age of your children or your desire for a slower pace of life.

Using Your Experience to your Advantage

Experience is what has gotten you to the interview stage and during the interview itself, you can use it to your advantage and make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Confidence and knowledge will make you seem like a better choice than a less-experienced or younger worker who might need greater training to get up to speed.

Try to do some pre-interview research on the company itself and be ready during the interview to provide a little insight into their business.

You want to convey that this role would be nothing new to you, that you have experience of similar roles or companies that will stand you in good stead if you were offered this position.

It is always helpful to give the interviewer details of previous projects you worked on and the lessons you learned, without sounding over-confident or that you believe the job is already yours.

The true value of experience is a higher level of productivity and fewer errors. Many employers find that older workers tend to be ‘lower maintenance’ when compared with their younger counterparts.

If you get that impression from the person or people interviewing you, try to turn it to your advantage. Emphasize your ‘soft skills’ such as your diligence, attention to detail and your loyalty.

These might well be the traits that your would-be employer is looking for over and above the job skills you have.

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