The question of how old you are shouldn’t be a relevant factor for a job interview. If you’re a professional with plenty of experience in the field, you should be valued for what you can bring to the table.
The issue is that it’s likely that a person in their 50s that’s looking for a job is going to get interviewed by someone significantly younger than them. Sometimes, age difference can lead to awkward situations when it’s either the interviewer being condescending or the interviewee taking the wrong approach to bridge the gap.
If you’re a 55-year-old job hunter that finds themselves being interviewed by a 30-year-old hiring manager, you need to both be careful about your approach and know how to respond if the other party brings your age into question.
Here are some of the best methods for ensuring that your interview goes well without being sidetracked by the age gap.
Steer Clear of Any Stereotypes
When you come to the interview, you should ensure that you don’t bring up any stereotypes regarding both sides. If you don’t want to be seen as an older applicant with “typical” traits, you must also avoid stereotyping the younger interviewer. In a perfect environment, both of you should work on bridging the age gap.
Think about the stereotypes that you might know about Zoomers and Millennials and steer clear of them. Joking about how young generations are glued to their phones or trying to bond over that newest Ariana Grande hit isn’t going to work. The worst thing you can do is try to compliment the interviewer by stating that you’re impressed with how someone as young as them became such a relevant decision-maker in the company.
Try To Mend the Gap
Even if both sides do their best to drop most of the stereotypes, the age gap can bring some common worries about. It’s common for younger employees to worry that someone older than them won’t show respect for their authority. Plenty of workers fear that your experience will show as invaluable and help you get promoted to a higher-ranking role faster than those that have been in the company longer than you.
You can try mending these worries by showing that age never presented an issue to you. If you’ve had an experience working for a younger manager in the past, you can mention it while talking about your previous work. Let the interviewer know that you don’t care about how old they are by treating them as peers. Ask them about their insights into the industry and how they think your role can help the company improve.
Present Your Skills
While both sides need to put away the stereotypes as much as they can, it’s hard to overlook the fact that they are sometimes true. This is why you should present your skills and experiences to counteract any misconceptions. It’s common for younger employees to think that their older colleagues don’t have the same amount of energy. Take the opportunity to present your problem-solving skills through creative suggestions. Your interviewer will drop any wrong ideas if you show them that you’re flexible and able to face new challenges.
Another common misconception is that older people aren’t in touch with current technologies and industry trends. Talk about any leadership roles that you might have taken on in the past and give examples of how you helped the team excel at each project. Show that you’ve got enough technological expertise by highlighting any relevant skills and knowledge that you’ve gained in the past few years.
Discuss Your Most Recent Work History
When it comes to talking about your work history, you should focus on at least the past 10 years. While you might have had plenty of experience in the past, the younger interviewer might have trouble relating to what you’ve excelled at 20 or 30 years ago.
Make the discussion as relevant as possible by talking about your most recent projects, experiences, and achievements. Aside from helping you bridge the age gap, this approach will also enable you to counteract the probability of being seen as overqualified for the job.
What To Do If the Interviewer Asks You About Your Age
In some cases, even if you do your best to bridge the age gap and be as respectful as possible, the interviewer will ask you how old you are. Remember that you don’t need to answer the question and it’s generally considered inappropriate with a reason.
Instead of telling the interviewer how old you are, you can shift the focus to what matters. You can try to change the subject without addressing the question directly. Ask whether the interviewer is concerned about whether you’ve got the skills and experience that the role requires and reiterate how your previous projects and achievements make you the perfect fit for the job.
If you want to be more direct, you can state that your age has never been a problem in the previous companies you’ve worked for. Let the interviewer know that the maturity you’ve gained through your work enables you to contribute to the company. You can even ask why your age matters to the company openly.
You should pay attention to how the interviewer responds. See if they realize that the question was inappropriate or if they act like they didn’t get the answer they were looking for. This will provide you with insight into the organization’s philosophy on diversity. You might end up learning that you don’t want to work for a company that won’t respect your knowledge and proficiency because of your age.
If you want to read more about various hurdles that job hunters face, check out:
- How To Overcome Common Job Search Hurdles
- 6 Tips on How To Ask for a Professional Recommendation
- 6 Essential Steps for a Successful Job Search
- How To Adapt Your Career to Big Life Changes
- 5 Ways to Jump-Start Your Job Search During a Vacation
- Does an Unusual Job Title Hurt Your Chances of Finding Work?