Mature workers are sometimes concerned that their age may prevent them from getting hired. The reality is that age alone is very rarely a reason for eliminating a job candidate. Hiring managers are always looking for the best person to get the job done. Age is irrelevant if capability, likability and fit are all strong. When applying and interviewing:
- Never assume age is the issue. Your mindset and attitude are what hiring managers notice. By going in with the preconceived notion that your age may prevent you from being hired, you may project that concern. Assume the best and be positive.
- Understand the true concerns of hiring managers, so that you can proactively present yourself in ways that put those concerns to rest.
- If you are asked a question you believe points to an issue with age, be prepared to answer it wisely, eliminating any age related concerns.
We often hear older job seekers suspecting certain interview questions are directed at their age. Here is a suggestion – answer them without thinking about age. Instead, think about how topics hiring managers bring up relate to the position and how you can demonstrate you’re a good match.
The interviewer says: “This is a high energy position”, “We need a real go-getter”
What’s the real question? The candidate’s ability to do the job including drive, persistence, and enthusiasm.
How to answer: Show your positive attitude. Share recent examples of your drive, persistence and follow-throughs leading to success.
The interviewer says: “We’re looking for someone to grow in this position”, “This is a long term proposition”.
What’s the real question? Are you in it for the long haul or will you leave soon?
How to answer: Stress how much you enjoy creating success to an employer by seeing things through. Consider saying something like “I’m looking for a place where I can add value and grow for a long time.”
The interviewer says: “This is a fast paced environment”, “We work with a lot of young people”, “We’re very collaborative”, “Our environment (or communication style) is very casual”.
What’s the real question? The candidate’s ability to fit into their culture and work environment.
How to answer: Give examples of times you’ve worked successfully with a wide variety of people. Demonstrate flexibility and successes you have had in open and collaborative environments. Focus on traits and work styles that lead to positive results.
The interviewer says: “The technology is changing so fast”, “We’re constantly evolving as the technology changes”, “The job has a steep learning curve”.
What’s the real question? The candidate’s ability to keep up, learn evolve.
How to answer: Give examples of times you have been part of an evolution, been successful and even helped others evolve. Show you are a life-long learner who embraces the new and needs little or no help to pick things up.
The interviewer says: “This job is a great starting point for someone who wants to go far in this industry”, “This position would have reported to you at your last job”.
What’s the real question? Will you be satisfied at this position?
How to answer: Express your desire to continuously grow in the industry and to bring great value. Emphasize your wonderful combination of enough experience to hit the ground running and learning constantly to bring long lasting value to the company. Read more about avoiding being “overqualified”.
Remind yourself that age is rarely the underlying issue. The real issue for the hiring manager is whether you can do the job. As you determine any concerns about why you might not be able to do the job, you can answer to them by bringing out traits and past successes that show you to be capable and a great match.
More help for mature workers: