Searching for a job is hard for everybody, but older job seekers can face a number of unique challenges when interviewing for jobs that can make the experience especially daunting.
Knowing how to answer tough interview questions might give you the confidence boost you need. Here are six common interview questions that can be difficult for older workers and how to best answer them.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) offers many resources for individuals age 55 and older who are entering the job market, including paid job training. Get started at vantageaging.org or by calling 330-253-4597.
How senior job seekers should answer tough interview questions
Are you familiar with social media networks and fluent in commonly used terms?
The best way to answer this question is to be prepared. Before you walk into an interview, make sure you’ve done a few basic things.
Get your LinkedIn profile up to date and reach out to friends, former colleagues or professional acquaintances for job-related professional endorsements. It’s actually pretty easy — and quick — to request a recommendation from someone. You can also return the favor by recommending someone else.
In addition to getting your LinkedIn profile updated, be sure you’ve posted recently on Facebook. If you’re a private person, that’s OK. You don’t have to post personal photos, images of your family, or mention anything political. Stick to light topics — share a positive news story, wish a friend happy birthday, or comment on a binge-worthy television series.
Can you explain these gaps in employment?
The longer you’re part of the workforce, the more opportunities there are to have a few gaps in your employment history. Acknowledge the gaps, then quickly move on to topics that put you in the best light.
If you took time away from the workplace while your children were young, explain that. If you were laid off amid the recession, or needed to relocate for a spouse’s career, address it briefly and transition to how eager you are to get back to a professional environment.
Do you think you’re overqualified for this job?
Whether you’ve got loads of experience, or multiple degrees, this question is a potential landmine for an older person seeking employment. But there are multiple ways you can answer depending on what makes you feel comfortable.
- Express your interest in the available position and stress that although you’ve worked at a higher level previously, this is what you’re interested in doing now.
- Indicate you’re looking to move up with the company and aren’t concerned about starting at an entry- or mid-level position.
- Reassure the hiring manager that you aren’t a flight risk and offer to sign a commitment statement.
- Fall back on your strengths. Yes, you’ve worked at higher-level positions before but that just confirms you’re well prepared for the advertised position.
Would having a younger manager be difficult for you?
The best way to answer this question is to give an example of how learning from someone younger than yourself was beneficial — maybe your younger neighbor helped you build a new deck, or your niece is tutoring you in Spanish. It could even be as simple as a younger friend who taught you a few tips and tricks on a new iPhone.
You can also point out that age diversity is a big benefit and something most companies should strive for.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
The honest answer to this question might very well be “retired,” but that might not be the answer an employer is hoping for.
You can still answer this question honestly without painting yourself into a corner. You can mention certain skills you’d like to develop and talk about how invigorating it is to be surrounded by other motivated, passionate co-workers.
Many older Americans continue to work because they choose to, and even those who must work can find benefits like meeting new people or staying occupied. Identify for yourself what those benefits are and focus on them.
What do you do for fun?
This question is having a recent resurgence in popularity, as companies look to hire well-rounded individuals who will add to the building’s culture.
Don’t feel pressured to answer the way you think an employer wants you to. Be genuine, but try to think creatively and answer in a way that demonstrates you’re still interested in trying new things.
For example, don’t say: “I watch my grandkids.” Instead, recast that as, “I love spending time with my grandchildren. The oldest shares my interest in classic cars, so we’re at car shows about every weekend.”
Looking for some additional guidance on interviewing skills or to have an expert help polish your resume? Or are there certain skills you’d like to develop before jumping back into the workforce? The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) provides many resources, including paid job training, for Ohio seniors at nonprofit and governmental agencies, to low-income individuals age 55 and older. Our program participants find experience and success working part-time at any one of our host agencies located across the state of Ohio. Get started at vantageaging.org or by calling 330-253-4597.
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