Over 50? Prepare for that Job Interview.

Practice gets the job if you are over 50.

If you read my blog, you’ll remember I have two recent blogs on polishing skills for job interviews. One is specifically for people older than 50, the other post was correcting two mistakes in the age of electronic resume scanning.

Let’s take a look at some more hints for landing that job: doing well on a job interview.

1. Practice answers to a variety of questions. A job interview is not the time to wing it. You, particularly if you are older than 50, need to practice your responses. You need to remove verbal landmines (revealing your age, assuming your political views  or religion are universal) and sound confident without sounding like the interviewer’s supervisor. Questions like “tell me about yourself” are not about your family, they are about your job qualifications. Knowing how to answer them easily and accurately will help get you the job.

2. Do not practice your answers in the mirror. You won’t be interviewing in the mirror. When you practice in the mirror, you scan yourself, checking your clothing, hair, and body image. You don’t want to do that in an interview. It looks like you are hitting on the person doing the interview.

3. Open a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a social networking site for adults. It’s used to get answers to your professional questions, connect to others in your field, and yes, network your way to a job. At LinkedIn you can talk to people in your field through groups or as individuals. There is a job bank for members. Link only to people you know (you don’t have to like them or date them, but you do have to think they are ethical in their field), but don’t limit yourself to close focus in your field. LinkedIn takes a while to start working for you, so don’t put it off.

4. Don’t admit you think social networking is a waste of time. Even if you hate FaceBook and Twitter, don’t say “I don’t know what it is, but it sounds like something useless” to an interviewer. Social networking is a popular way to keep up with people by using a computer. Showing your contempt for these online connectors is like saying you hate computers, email and other electronic means of communication your interviewer has used for a lifetime. You’ll sound like you communicate by stone tablet. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

5. Do not act like a needy puppy. I teach classes for the unemployed. When I ask “What’s the most important impression to leave the interviewer with,” the two answers I hear the most often are, “I need a job,” and “I’ll do anything to get this job.” No, this is not what you want to do at all. Quick flashback to your own life: whose calls do you avoid? Your needy Aunt Lovey who is lonely. Your needy pal, Buddy, who has one hard luck story after another. Don’t be that person to the interviewer. The interviewer had a thousand people who qualify for the job. The interviewer is looking for a reason not to hire you. Don’t hand one out on a silver platter. The best impression to leave is one of confidence and ability to handle the job without a lot of supervision. And you are the right age to do that.

If you have tips from your own experience, leave them in the comments. It’s a tough market, it’s time to help each other find a job.

Quinn McDonald teaches business communications, is a life coach helping people find careers they love, and teaches interview skills to the unemployed.

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5 responses to “Over 50? Prepare for that Job Interview.

  1. recently after a phone screen I was able to connect with 2 people who work at the same company. (they are former co workers of mine) They gave me a wealth of company info, right down to the name of the project. How much company info do I noodle into my next interview? I did not get permission to use their names nor did they offer to reach out for me –yet (they hardly know me)

    • It was nice to get extra information from them. But you will have to be very careful and not mention anything that might identify the people who helped you. If they don’t want to be identified, you have to respect their wishes to protect them.

  2. I disagree about the 30/60/90 day plan. This may be true if the job seeker knows the company really well, but most job seekers don’t know nearly enough about a company they are interviewing with to create such a plan, particularly if they are middle managers or line workers. The same is true for people in the early interviewing stage–the stage I’m talking about in this blog post. The hiring managers I’ve spoken to have said that a job seeker coming in with a plan and no experience with the company’s goals or knowledge of the corporate culture would appear arrogant, lacking in emotional intelligence, and offputting. One used the word “offensive.”

    A better question is to ask what the company’s goals are for the position for 30/60/90 days and discuss how prior experience can contribute to the success of an existing plan. Many companies don’t have a 30/60/90-day detailed plan for the majority of their employees.

    Because your site is purely a selling site–readers need to pay to get information, I’ve removed the link in your comment. I’m fine with people being helpful in comments, I don’t allow people to use my blog to sell their own products.

  3. Also: ask people for recommendations on linkedIn. One simple way to do that is to recommend THEM, and most of the time they’ll return the favor.

    This probably won’t last forever — my guess is that “recommendation inflation” will make it relatively meaningless eventually — but for now some companies are paying attention to LinkedIn recommendations.

    • If only I could get my recommendations to show up. I have three, only one shows up, and while I can see the other two, and there is an exclamation mark and red border around the two with a remark: These two recommendations are not yet on your profile! With no instructions on how to make them appear. I’ve clicked every link on the page with no good results.

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