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If you think age is the barrier to interview success: time to start leaping

People get older, it’s a fact of life, but until you're dead, you are learning. Here are some ways to (and not to) leverage that knowledge at your next job interview.

Maybe, you have returned to the workforce after a raising your children, or, you worry that you are likely to be amongst the oldest candidates, and when you arrive, you realise you could be the interviewer’s mother!

If you worry about any of the following, you need to keep reading.

“Do I try to sound younger?”

“Should I dress younger?”

“Will I appear out of touch?”

“How much has the workplace changed?”

"Am I too old to get the job, and salary, I want?"

Henry Ford is reported to have said, in relation to success or failure, “If you think you can, or can’t, you are probably right.”

The answers to any of the questions above is, no. Find out how to easily step-over the question of age and land firmly on the soft grass of experience.

Ok, before some people say it, yes, I know that ageism in the workforce is real. But, just remember it can work both ways. If you sit there thinking the person interviewing me is barely out of school, then you are just a guilty. Forget about age, yours or theirs. It is irrelevant.

The most important thing you can bring to your interview is experience, but probably, not in the way you are imagining.

Remember, harping on about how much experience you have, is just another way of saying, “I’m old.” By the same token, assuming that you are better or more suited than someone younger will also find you watching day-time soaps for an extended period.

As the saying goes: You don’t have to be old to be wise (or experienced). But, references to your age, like any interview topic, needs to be measured and relevant. If you have an open mind, you will find it catching.

Getting the job is about the same things it has always been: assessment, adjustment, preparation and professionalism.

That is, assess your interviewer to understand what he/she is looking for—e.g., are they looking for someone to provide leadership, or do they want someone who will fit quietly into the team? Perhaps, they want someone who will be great with customers?

Whatever it is they need, you need to demonstrate how you can provide it.

This assessment phase is about asking the right questions of your interviewer, and reading between the lines. Another benefit to having lived a life, you should know how to do it. But remember, understanding people is about empathy, not making assumptions.

Once you have assessed your interviewer, and the company culture, then adjust your responses and demeanour accordingly—e.g., does your interviewer exhibit a lack of confidence? Then, tone down your personality: no one employs someone who makes them feel uncomfortable.

Of course, to be successful in your assessment and adjustments, requires preparation. Consider all the different types of people you have met, and how you needed to adjust your attitudes accordingly.

How did you adapt to an over-protective parent of your child's best friend? Perhaps, you had to manage a difficult and arrogant teacher at your child's school in a way that didn't make them a target. These are the same types of people you meet in the workforce. Make a list of all these situations and develop strategies and responses that will apply to the workplace.

If you have more questions, then please join our 60-minute class which will tackle age-related barriers to interview success.

The last category for getting the job is exhibiting professionalism. Essentially, this means making mature decisions during difficult moments. Isn't this the definition of getting older? Learning how to navigate the good and bad things in life with grace.

Age is an advantage in an interview situation, if you think about it in the right context--and successful interview preparation is largely about reframing negative thinking--you should be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

To be continued ...


If you have some questions you'd like me to answer in the next part of this series, please let me know? Alternatively, our friendly on-line class on the 04/11/21 will allow you to ask me any questions live--unless, my family have me stuffed between now and then, of course. : )

Do you feel you need some one-to-one help to get over the age question? Confidence can ebb at inconvenient times, I can certainly help you get it back. In fact, it would be my pleasure.

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