Overcoming Ageism to Win the Job Interview (Part 2)
(To view Part 1 of this 2-part article, go here.)
Interviewing while 50+ is a concern for many job seekers.
And while the employment outlook for older professionals is good, ageist biases still come into play when it comes to job interviews.
Beat these biases by being aware of the words and actions that can seem dated instead of up-to-date. Here are 3 ways to overcome ageism in job interviews:
Watch Your Language
What you say in the interview can reinforce ageist stereotypes. Don’t age yourself by using phrases such as:
- “That was 25 years ago…”, “Back in the day…”, “In the 80s…”, or “In 1991….” Your goal is to prove to that your skills are up-to-date and relevant right now. Referencing activities that happened decades ago can work against you. Prove how you can help their department or business progress with your current skill set and know-how.
- “When I was your age…” If you’re talking with a younger interviewer and say something similar to this, it can sound condescending and parental. Focus on the job requirements and how you can fulfill them, and treat the other person as a professional who may someday be your boss or coworker.
- “I remember when we used fax machines / dot matrix printers / DOS.” Now isn’t the time to reminisce and reference about the technology of decades past; stick with the present.
Understand the Differences Between Younger & Older Recruiters
Research your interviewer(s) beforehand so you’ll have ready some conversation points and be able to adapt and build rapport early on.
According to a Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report, millennial recruiters place more emphasis on conversation skills and enthusiasm, while 50+ recruiters emphasize knowledge of the industry and appearance. Older recruiters give more weight than millennial recruiters to personal style and grooming when assessing whether someone is a cultural fit.
Regardless of the recruiter’s age, always err on the side of having a well-researched, well-groomed approach!
Stay on Trend With Your Wardrobe
Your appearance says a lot about you before you ever say a word. According to image consultant and stylist Rose Jubb, staying on trend with your clothes can also show you’re current in your expertise and industry. “A good fit should be your number one priority,” Jubb says. “If you’re clothes fit, you can convey you’re a fit for the job.”
Jubb recommends to physically walk inside stores to see what’s current and ask the staff their opinion on flattering styles and colors. With this approach, you eliminate the back and forth of online shopping, gain a neutral, skilled eye about what looks good on you, and possibly access to an onsite, fast-turnaround tailor who can ensure a perfect fit.
Don’t dress too young—just look like a current version of yourself!
More Success Tips for Overcoming Ageism to Win the Job Interview
- Be open-minded and stay humble. We can all learn from each other, no matter the age of our coworkers and bosses. Convey that your mission is to meet the company’s goals as a collaborative leader or team member.
- Demonstrate that you’re current, knowledgeable, and professional through compelling, quantifiable stories, told in the Situation Opportunity Action Results (SOAR) framework.
- Show energy and enthusiasm as you’re talking about your accomplishments and the job you’re interviewing for. Don’t let your professional experience speak for itself, because you may be perceived as being too blasé about the job or the company. Tell your stories with energy, because that will be infectious to the interviewer and they’ll be able to envision that same enthusiasm in their company.
- Look for ways to talk about how active you are, during icebreakers or when asked about your personal interests. For example, if you’re an avid hiker, dedicated volunteer, or traveler, all reinforce that you’re engaged and well-rounded with a lot to offer.
With these strategies, you’ll help the interviewer stay focused on your skills and fit for the job rather than your age.
To read Part 1 of Overcoming Ageism to Win the Job Interview which highlights common interview questions that reveal ageist biases, go here.