Feeling a little……outdated?
Unfortunately, it happens as a normal course of business; companies merge, downsize, relocate, or shift their core business focus….and when these things happen a lot of people find themselves out on the street again, after having worked for that company for 10, 15 or even 20 years. It’s a scary thing to contemplate jumping back into the shark tank that is the interview circuit. The process of finding a job is not for the faint of heart, and can be very discouraging if you are no longer in your 20’s or 30’s…or 40’s even. Although employment discrimination based upon age is illegal, if you face heading into the interview arena and are ‘of a certain age’, you will need to be prepared to answer some perfectly legal questions that are age-related, and you will need to answer them comfortably and directly. The questions may be phrased any number of ways, but here are some general categories of questions that you will likely be asked;
- The ‘long term goals’ questions- These questions could be anything from “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” to the more direct, “When are you expecting to retire”. You will need to answer this one head-on and without embarrassment- they will be looking for a wishy-washy answer. If you plan on working for at least another 5 years, the best way to answer this question is to tell them so. Try something like this,”I expect to work for another 5 years at least; and longer than that if I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I have the experience you need, I’m very excited about this position, and 5 years is a long time- I would even venture to say that I may outlast some of your more junior people because I’m not focused on advancing my career. I’m not positioning myself for my next promotion; I’m just looking for a stable, profitable business where my expertise will be of benefit to the growth of the company, and where I’ll enjoy coming to work every day.” This example answer contains several key messages- use whichever ones apply to your situation.
- The ‘how old are you?’ questions- The person interviewing you will know (let’s hope) that it is illegal to ask you your age outright….but that may not stop them from trying to get you to answer questions that will allow them to calculate your age. This one gets a bit tricky. The questions will be phrased in such a way as to get you to pinpoint a year, and we encourage you not to answer these questions directly. You may hear something like, “When did you start attending NYU?” or “About this position you have listed on your resume- was this your first job out of school?” or “I know someone who went to NYU- what years were you there?”. To answer these, try giving them a big smile and pausing for a couple second longer than necessary….you want them to know that you know what they’re really after…then say something like, “Yes, I have been in the business world for a while now, and have spent this time honing my skills as a closer and negotiator. I feel that I am at the top of my game right now and am eager to apply my skills in this position.” Keep the vibe positive and open, while not actually giving them a number.
- The ‘overqualified’ questions- Some form of this question will always be asked when the candidate has more than 20 years of relevant experience. One way to nip this in the bud is to only include a career history of about 12-15 years, but you still need to have an answer prepared for the question, “With all your years of experience, don’t you think you may be overqualified for this position?” The way you want to reply is to go directly to your strengths and accomplishments, your enthusiasm for the position and your wealth of knowledge and connections within the industry. Tell them that your qualifications are right in line with what the position requires, and that being a seasoned professional, your learning curve will be steeper than any other candidate they will be talking to.