Interviewing for a job in your 40s, 50s, and 60+ is not the same as the interviews of our youth. Part One of this guide is for the elements that are the same, like not bashing your former employer or boss. Part Two focuses on the high tech changes because video interviews are here to stay! Please read Part One even though it is a refresher, Part Two is video interviewing and will be posted soon. Part two is especially important if you haven’t interviewed in the past five years.
First, congratulate yourself because your resume won you a chance to move to the short list of candidates.
The Basics Are Still Worth Repeating:
1) Even if someone on the interview team talks badly of your current or former company because they have worked there and know how bad it is, DO NOT speak badly of your boss, the company or senior management. Focus on the job you are interviewing for and how excited you are about this opportunity.
2) Be on time. Leave early, allow for traffic and plan ahead. However, if you are at the interview “stalker-like early” just sit in the car nearby until 15 minutes before your appointment. Arriving two hours early and wanting to sit in the lobby or being in the parking lot before the company opens smacks of desperation (and it scares people).
3) Dress appropriately. Even interviews at health clubs deserve attire you wouldn’t work out in while you are trying to win the job. A man can never go wrong in a suit that fits great. A visit to the tailor for alterations can update an older suit. I always err on the side of conservative dress for women, but NOT the interview suit of the 1980s—remember the navy or black skirted suit with the white shirt with a bow tie? A visit to the free personal shopper at a high-end department can help you put together an ensemble worthy of an interview with C-suite executives.
4) Avoid being patronizing to younger people on the interview team or women. Recently, I heard from a female business owner that a 40ish man she was interviewing referred to her as “dear” and “my dear” several times during the interview. He didn’t get the job. I have also seen 40+ interviewees act dismissive toward 20-somethings that are either human resource professionals or members of the interview team. Balance being professional and respectful to administrative staff with being obnoxious. (Note: To the guy who was doing magic tricks for the secretaries; they thought you were a weirdo. If you want to work again, stop the magic tricks.)
5) Practice Practice Practice! Find someone to role-play with and practice how you will answer the basic behavioral interview questions—the ones that begin with “tell me about a time when you…” The interviewer is expecting a succinct response to how you solved a work problem in the past. These types of interview questions are asked under the premise that what you’ve done in the past predicts how you handle situations in the future.
6) Above all else, don’t talk too much—it seems the older we get, the more we enjoy talking. Stay focused. Answer the questions add appropriate SHORT examples, insure you’ve addressed the issue by asking and be quiet. At the end of the interview, “CLOSE” for the job!