Rochester NY Stake Employment Center

January 25, 2012

10 Questions Interviewers May Ask Older Job Hunters

Filed under: Interviewing — Larry @ 12:56 pm

Summary (see full article at ):

One of the biggest challenges for older job hunters is how to get past entrenched age bias issues that often surface during a face-to-face interview. Many interviewers will ask questions, some pointed, others subtle, that are meant to probe your "fitness" for the position. Give the "wrong" answer, and you may be screened out from further consideration.

Here are 10 questions you’ll likely be asked by interviewers. Learn what they’re really asking and how to answer each question to your advantage.

1. Tell me about yourself.
– provide a succinct description of who you are, your major strength and the biggest benefit that you bring to them. Research both the organization and the particular position so you can bring the conversation back to their needs in this job and how your unique strengths can be of immediate benefit to them.

2. What are your salary requirements?
– check out comparable salaries that organizations are paying for this type of position in your geographical area. You can find information about corporate salaries on sites like and, while offers salary surveys for the nonprofit sector.
– respond with a range based on your research, saying something like, "I’ve found from my research that the typical salary range is from $X to $Y. Is that what you were thinking of?"

3. With all your experience, you may be overqualified for this opportunity. Won’t this position bore you?
– stress why you may no longer want a higher level of responsibility with a response like, "At this point in my career, I’d much rather leave the responsibility and management to someone else. This position offers exactly what I’ve become best at, which is solving the immediate problems at hand that your organization may be experiencing now.” Then talk about how you can help solve a major challenge that they face.
• emphasize your passion for the mission of the organization.
• stress that you are able to hit the ground running and provide solutions without the ramp-up of additional training or hand-holding that they might have to provide a younger candidate.

4. I see you went to X University. My friend, Sara Adams, graduated from there also. Did you know her? (Or, when were you there?)
It’s illegal to come out and ask “How old are you?”, but interviewers have other ways to get you to reveal your age. Asking about school graduation is one of them. One approach is to answer with a vague response like, "Oh it has been a few years since I’ve been there, but my ability to solve problems for my employers has grown substantially since then."

5. How do you work with others?
– give specific examples of past projects or problems (especially in team situations or working with other departments) you’ve had to take on and your positive influence on the outcome.
– stay focused on examples that relate to the job you’re applying for and don’t bring up past duties or responsibilities from previous jobs if they’re not directly related to your target position.

6. There aren’t any employees here your age. Would that make you uncomfortable?
– give an example or two of a situation in your past where you’ve worked on teams with much younger employees. If possible, give a specific example of how you have grown or learned something from a much younger team member.

7. What are your long-term career plans?
– emphasize your enthusiasm for the job and that you plan to work for many years to come. For instance, you might say, “While you can see that I have accomplished some things during my career, I still have much to contribute. I want to keep growing and learning and help your organization be successful.”

8. We run a very fast-paced team (or department/division/company) here. Will you be able to keep up?
– Reassure them by mentioning any recent courses or certifications you’ve completed.
– give specific examples about a time when you made an extra effort and went all out to achieve a larger goal.

9. You’ll be working for a (much) younger supervisor here. Do you anticipate any problems with that?
• Emphasize your past experience working with superiors younger than you.
• Reassure interviewers that you’re a team player who is able to work with diverse teams to achieve a goal.

10. What have you been doing most recently?
Don’t think of yourself as someone who’s looking for a job. You’re a problem solver. You’re a caregiver. You’re a team leader, a group organizer, a student, a consultant or any number of other roles.
– give an example of something you’ve accomplished or are making progress on, such as schooling, professional certification courses or achievements, personal projects, outside contracts or projects (paid or pro bono), overcoming a crisis or leading a group to achieve some goal.
– demonstrate that you’re still relevant in your profession or industry. Show how you’ve gained experience and have become more valuable as a potential employee as a result of recent activities or accomplishments.

“If you’re an older, experienced worker, you don’t have to settle for a lower position that doesn’t use your skills. Sure, there’s age discrimination out there with some employers, but you can still stack the deck in your favor. During an interview, focus on the employer’s needs and draw from successes in your past to provide solid return-on-investment answers to questions. It’s important to be honest, but be sure to emphasize your strengths rather than magnify your vulnerabilities.” – Joe Turner


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