When the Job Interviewer is Younger than You


Recently a client was describing what she regarded as a very unsuccessful job interview “because the interviewer was at least 25 years younger than me and she had a poker face throughout the interview”.   She concluded that ageism was present.

It got me thinking about what it must feel like for the interviewer. She has this very qualified and confident person before her and she begins to feel intimidated and uncomfortable. She’s thinking “How could I ever give direction to this person that knows way more than me?”

What can the Third Age Job Seeker do about this?  Our programming from a previous time tells us to go into job interviews with an air of confidence.  Well, perhaps it would make sense to tone that down a bit now.  Here are a few ideas that come to mind for putting the interviewer at ease:

  • Find a way to connect, even though the interviewer has control of the meeting;
  • Be relaxed,  as well as professional;
  • Smile into the eyes of the interviewer;
  • Don’t be afraid to use a bit of silence;
  • Answer questions factually, without a lot of embellishment – focus on last 10 years; focus on skills rather than positions;
  • Stay light and use a bit of humour about yourself;
  • Show that you don’t take yourself too seriously – be truthful in your answers about your weaknesses;
  • Find a way to communicate that you value collaboration and you are ready to share what you know with other team members, and pull your weight;
  • Communicate your fascination with the speed of change and technology;
  • Mention how much you enjoy working with diverse groups:  young people, other races & cultures.   Mention what you have learned from them.
  • Ask questions that communicate that you are interested in furthering the vision and purpose of the company.
  • Explain that you don’t need to be in a high level position now – the satisfaction derived from staying connected and contributing;
  • Focus less on what you need than on what the company needs;
  • Above all, don’t be condescending.

If you have had an unpleasant interview experience, I would like to hear about it. Maybe we can come up with some more strategies.

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