Job interview tips for older workers
Make your experience and age work for you, not against you.
Older workers, you have solid advantages when it comes time to find a job (years of amazing experience), but it can also be a challenge—especially if you haven’t had to interview for a job in a very long time.
“It is a very different landscape than it was even 10 years ago, and for many in that demographic, it has been longer than 10 years,” says Regina Rear-Connor, a New York–based talent acquisition leader and consultant. “The key is to make sure that you are presenting yourself for today's market. There are those who think finding a job is the same as it was in the 1980s.”
With 55% of workers saying they plan to work past age 65, according to a recent Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies survey, that’s all the more reason to keep your job interviews fresh so you can keep striving for new career goals in your 50s and beyond.
Here’s what you need to know:
Stay on point
In a behavioral interview format, older workers likely have many experiences to discuss. “The key is to answer these questions in a very tight and clear STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format,” says Rear-Connor. What you don’t want to do is bore your interviewer. “You must remember that the human attention span is much shorter these days. When you go down that rabbit hole, you lose the attention of your interviewer.”
Be confident, but humble
The age and experience of older workers bring insight and a new perspective, and you need to draw confidence from that, says Rear-Connor. However, humility can go a long way, too. “Acknowledge that while you bring a lot to the table, you are sure there are things you can learn,” she says. Doing so will help ensure that you’re not looking to come in and step on anyone’s toes.
Prepare for the virtual interview
More and more frequently, companies are using video-conferencing technology to perform initial interviews with prospective candidates, says Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopInterview, an interview-coaching firm. “Familiarize yourself with the platform and do a test-run to ensure everything is set up appropriately,” she says. You might also consider conducting a mock interview with a friend or a professional service to get comfortable with the format.
Address the tech elephant in the room
Speaking of technology, one of the very reasons that age discrimination exists is because the younger generations are tech natives and are often better at it than someone in their 50s, says Rear-Connor. Of course, that’s not necessarily the case.
Look for opportunities during the interview to mention how you’ve been keeping abreast with the latest technology in your field. “If you’re well-versed in the latest tools and platforms,” says Augustine, “explain how you’ve leveraged them to solve issues or create results in your recent role.”
Defend your social media (or lack thereof)
“Your first impression in the hiring landscape today is your LinkedIn profile, not your resume,” says Ruben Moreno, who leads the HR executive search practice of Blue Rock Search, a Florida-based executive search firm. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, that’s something that an interviewer may ask about. Before you start interviewing, get some assistance from someone you trust to ensure that your profile is well thought out, well presented, and includes a high-quality professional photo, he says.
Focus on fit
The interviewing and selection process today is more focused on the candidate’s ability to work collaboratively as part of a larger team. “Organizations today place high value on individuals that can work with and motivate both the people that work for them and their peers,” Moreno says. As a candidate, you need to demonstrate that you have done your homework, know the company and their values, and can articulate how they align with who you are both personally and professionally. “Passion about the company and its mission are imperative,” Moreno says.
Don’t oversell your decades of experience
Rather than playing the “been there, done that” card, which could land you in the “overqualified” pile or be a turn off, focus on selling your relevant achievements, says Augustine. “Your interviewers don’t need to know about everything you’ve done or are capable of doing; they mostly care about what you’ve done recently that relates to the role they’re currently filling,” she says. Carefully select the key pieces of your work history that demonstrate your qualifications.
Take age off the table
If your age comes up (such as if you’re interviewing with a “young” company), shift the focus toward . Establish yourself as a leader who has demonstrated the adaptability required to have survived and thrived the major workplace shifts of the last 20 years.
“Regardless of the age of the hiring manager,” says Moreno, “if you can successfully craft your personal brand and message to the above, your age/experience will be viewed as a valuable asset to the organization.”
Hiring managers are sometimes hesitant to hire older workers because of their likely higher salary requirements, and because they might have aspirations of early retirement, so be prepared for that. “Don’t be afraid to be proactive during the interview to ensure no assumptions are made about your candidacy,” says Augustine. For instance, explain how this role fits into your long-term plans.
Understanding how to get ready for the job interview circuit and knowing which of your skills to highlight as a 50+ worker is an important first step to take. Want more help standing out to hiring managers? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Monster can help you get ready to launch the next phase of your career.