About Me

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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winning the Job Interview--Part One

Job interviews are often a stressful time. It is not something we do very often (if we are fortunate) and many people have a tough time talking themselves “up” to others because they are concerned about bragging. The job interview is the one place where you must temper your modesty and present yourself and your achievements with confidence and passion.

With 9% unemployment and four generations in the workforce, experienced workers may have to update their interviewing skills to win today’s jobs.  Here are a few insider secrets to help you on your next interview.


With hundreds or maybe even thousands of applicants for a single opening, HR recruiters have to narrow the field to the most qualified candidates based on the skills they “must” have and the skills it would be “nice to have”. Many larger companies and staffing agencies use an applicant tracking systems to help them find the most qualified candidates to move forward in the interview process. They enter search criteria based on the essential job “musts” for the best candidates to surface. (See the August 6 post, “Successful Online Job Search Techniques”).  
  • Larger corporations may have several questions online that you must answer before submitting your resume as their prescreening tool

  • Other companies may have a staff member call and ask 7-10 questions related to the position.

  • The trend is toward group interviews for more entry level positions. Hiring managers can observe your interpersonal skills, how you get along with others and your social skills in this format. After the group interviews, individual interviews are scheduled.

The Phone Interview:

After surviving the first round of elimination during the pre-screening, now you are ready for the phone interview. Your phone interview is Numero Uno in moving pass the gatekeepers to meet the hiring manager face-to-face. These interviews usually take place with a Human Resources recruiter.  Some of their biggest complaints include candidates giving a phone number that doesn’t work or low batteries on a cell phone that disconnects mid-interview or the candidate who forgot about the interview and the recruiter heard dogs barking a blaring TV & babies crying in the background. Take the telephone interview seriously; many job-seekers take this step too lightly. Remember it is critical to securing that all important face-to-face interview.

  • Project an enthusiastic tone over the telephone

  • Don’t ramble on & on—keep your answers succinct and relevant

  • Keep your examples current, in the last 1-4 years

  • Do not mention anything age-related or make a joke about being older

  • Have a three well-thought out questions ready for the interviewer

Face-to-Face Interview:

If you’ve made it this far, the job could easily be yours. As you prepare for this stage of the interview process unless you are interviewing for a position with a small business, you should expect a series of interviewers. Make sure you are well-rested and prepared for a long day (which also shows the interviewers your stamina).

  • First impressions are key—err on the side of conservatism: being dressed appropriately, firm-but not overbearing handshake, maintain eye contact without have a ‘stare down’ & BE ON TIME!!

  • Answer questions directly without getting distracted or going off onto a tangent

  • Assure each interviewer that you meet or exceed the required criteria for the role and ask them if they would support you for the role—if not, handle any objection they mention in a non-defensive, non-hostile way

  • Send a thank you e-mail to each interviewer and confirm your interest in the position and mention a line about how you will add value to the role


  1. I just went on one of those group interviews yesterday for a seasonal position with a major retailer in the Northeast. I was the oldest person in the room and it seemed like I was invisible to the person leading the interview session. I've been laid off for nearly two years and last year I worked during the holiday season in retail and my employment was extended through February 2011. I no longer receive unemployment and my full-time job with an appliance manufacturer went away when the plant closed. I worked there for 24 years. How can you make yourself stand out in a group interview when you are 57 years old with a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds?

  2. I am 57 as well and feel the need to stand out in certain groups. What works for me is my personality and asking questions 20s and 30s won't think about because they don't know enough yet. Good questions come with good experience.

  3. The group interview is not just for entry level jobs as mentioned in this post. I had a group interview for a mid-level job considered a supervisor for a major retail company. One man kept monopolizing the questions and I was disappointed the HR people running the group interview either didn't know how or would not politely shut this guy down. It was an hour long and I didn't get a call back for a one-on-one inerview. I never got a chance to even ask a question. Certainly I was the oldest in the group and the only one with gray hair. Could there be age discrimintation going on within these group interviews when older applicants are identified then crossed off the list?

  4. This isn't just for older or mature workers or people over 40, I just passed the interviewing information to my son graduating from college in December. He's had some help from college placement, but with a degree in sociology he will need all the help he can until he earns his MSW.

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