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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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Job Interview Tips for Experienced Workers

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! 


  1. As always, you have very good advice and information. Don Bauder

  2. You have written a wonderful article.
    I love it.

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  3. I recently (within the past 6mo) had an interview at a local DFS office and I worn the traditional slack/suit dark grey, pink dress shirt, black short heals. I thought that I looked very professional but not so outdated (I am almost 40). I called the agency that was staffing for the position to hear (to my dismay) that the interviewers were not impressed with what I wore for the interview. This was the reason I wasn't selected for the position that I was obviously qualified for. I am still confused about that and it really made me feel like I was just too old to be applying. One of the employees there actually may have been about 24 or so, green hair, face piercings, and flip flops on. Am I missing something crucial here or what?

  4. Hi Jenafer, Thanks for your comment. I always suggest being somewhat conservative in interview apparel unless you are applying at a tattoo salon or an organization known for it's casual work environment. I'm not sure what the DFS office is but if it is a government agency (as in Department of Family Services)certainly your "look" would be appropriate. In this case I would connect w/ the staffing agency and send them an e-mail photo of what you were wearing and see if they have any suggestions. They get paid if you get placed. Best of luck in your job search!

  5. @ Jenafer
    I agree with Brenda - the staffing agency should be able to give you specifics.
    That said - keep this in mind when choosing an outfit for an interview - you want them to remember YOU, not the outfit! Some outfits would be perfect... on someone else! Not only does the style have be appropriate - it has to fit your style. And talk about fit! The best outfit in the world won't work if the fit isn't right. On to color... lots of choices - find the ones that work best for you.

    Now - if the style color and fit of your outfit were all perfect for you... great job. And good luck on your next interview!

    btw - I interviewed someone once who had a great suit on. He'd just forgotten to remove the tags from the sleeves. But that wasn't as bad as the interviewee whose blouse buttons wouldn't stay closed, but she didn't know it.