The New Rules of Job Interviews

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at any age, and whilst a lot of what you might remember from interviews in your past still applies, there are some new considerations to consider when interviewing now.

Employers are being forced to consider hiring older workers, due to an increasingly pressing resource shortage. While some, such as 55/Redefined’s Age-Inclusive employers are actively recruiting in this cohort and embracing older workers as part of their diversity and inclusion plans, others are still a little behind the curve. Here’s how make the most of a job interview and demonstrate your value and the contribution you can make to a potential employer in the most compelling way.

Preparing for Your Job Interview

If you’ve been invited to a job interview, preparation is key. The first step is to take time to review the original job advert and re-read the job description.

Have a good look at the company website and LinkedIn page to get a better understanding of the company’s culture and values. Understand how the company describes itself, its aims, ambitions and ethos, who the key people in the business are, and how the role that you have applied for fits into that so that in your interview you can show that you understand both the company and the role.

Next, take a look at Glassdoor. This website allows employees to anonymously review their companies. Reading through these reviews can give you some insight into what it’s like to work at the company. It can also help you identify any potential red flags.

If you’re having a virtual interview, make sure to test your equipment beforehand and ensure that your camera and microphone are working properly. Pay attention to your background, lighting, and any potential interruptions.

Interviewers and recruiters will often do research on candidates before the interview so make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date. (Only 17% of over-50s are active on LinkedIn, so get ahead of your peers by creating an entry if you don’t already have one.) Check there’s nothing on your personal social media channels that is inappropriate, or consider setting them to private.

Why a Job Interview Can Be More Challenging When You’re Older

Ageism remains an issue. According to a study by AARP, over 60% of those over 45 say they have experienced age bias in their job search. However, there are things you can do to minimise the effect of this and keep control of the narrative in your job interview.

It’s important to pre-empt any red flags the interviewer may have by talking about your work experiences in a way that demonstrates how your skills and knowledge can benefit the company. Share examples of how you have solved real-world problems in your previous roles.

It’s wise to avoid emphasising the age difference by refraining from referring to events or experiences from decades ago. For example, instead of saying “I worked for 26 years as a credit controller,” say “I have over ten years of experience as a credit controller.”

Some interviewers may be concerned that you’re not in it for the long haul. Reassure them by talking about your career goals and how you see yourself growing with the company. You can also mention your willingness to learn new skills and be flexible.

Clearly demonstrate the value that your age and experience can bring to the role.

If you’re being interviewed by someone younger than you, don’t assume that they have negative attitudes towards your age. Treat them professionally and respectfully, and listen carefully to their questions.

Multigenerational workforces are becoming increasingly common, so it’s important to demonstrate that you’re comfortable being interviewed by, and working with, people who are younger than you. Celebrate your experience and expertise, while also showing that you have a contemporary and adaptable mindset. 

The Interview Itself

    • Stay positive and enthusiastic. Positivity is infectious and people like working with upbeat colleagues.

    • Dress smartly in modern business wear. If you’re unsure of the dress code, it’s better to be too smart than too casual.

    • Prepare to make some small talk to break the ice, the weather or a non-political news story make good topics.

    • Express your enthusiasm for the job and why you’re interested in the company to show that you’re genuinely interested in working there.

    • If there’s more than one interviewer, try to engage with each person and use their names in your replies.

    • Finally, show respect by listening carefully to their questions and giving them time to talk and explain.

When speaking about your experiences, try using the STAR method:

    • Situation – What was the circumstance that required your help?

    • Task – What was it you were asked to do?

    • Action – What action did you choose and why?

    • Result – What was the result?

Follow up with a concise email after your interview, thanking them for their time.

Finding Career Fulfilment

Employers are starting to better understand the value older workers can bring to the workplace. Greater experience, less time off sick and greater flexibility are just a few of the things that we bring to the workplace. More employers are driving age-inclusive recruitment strategies that celebrate the skills that older workers bring.

Regardless of the level of job you are applying for and whether it’s a step out of unretirement, or a career move to your next high-flying role, it’s important to celebrate the skills that life has taught you and to recognise that they can equip you for a role that’s right for you.

If you’re unsuccessful in your current interview, don’t be shy to ask the interviewer for feedback then use that as an opportunity to learn what you can do better next time.

And keep looking! Jobs/Redefined’s jobs page is the ideal place to find jobs with age-inclusive employers who are actively hiring people like you.


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