Job seekers over 50 have a real hard time landing employment. Many employers believe this segment of the population is either too old, overqualified, or just out of touch.
Other employers are under the impression that seasoned adults are not looking for any additional on-the-job stress and are just happy to coast until retirement. Some human resources (HR) experts feel that the issue isn’t age as much as it is culture. Young hiring managers often don’t feel someone over 50 can mix with the current workforce.
Getting through an interview process is tough for anyone but even more so for those over 50. Are you prepared for those curveball questions from an HR manager? Well, Martin Yates, a job search and career management expert and author of the Knock ’em Dead career series of books, offers responses to interview questions that might be laced with ageism. And please do keep in mind that hiring managers should be impressed with your skills and competencies; gray hair and a few wrinkles shouldn’t keep you on unemployment lines.
Aren’t you overqualified for this job?
Answer: “I really enjoy working, and I have just the right skills for this job. At crunch times and emergencies, my experience makes me a steadying influence. I’m not after anyone’s job, and I’ll be a reliable and trustworthy person that has your back. I’m qualified, I can bring real benefits to the team. I want the job, and you can count on me.”
Are you up to date with the latest technology and use of social networks?
Answer: Your answer can address this issue and still show that you are capable of staying on top of things in a workplace that is constantly moving/progressing. First, talk about these constantly evolving challenges, then follow with examples that show how you are keeping up with technologies that affect your productivity.
“I’m currently reading about….” “I just attended a conference or workshop on….” You can show how comfortable and up-to-date you are with regard to social media. “I have an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn.com (be sure you do). I belong to professional networking groups through LinkedIn and monitor posts there weekly. I consider social networking to be a valuable tool in my ongoing professional development, and the information shared in those forums keeps me up to date with happenings and innovations within the industry.”
Why have you been out of work for so long?
Answer: Try a little honesty with your response. “If you look at my work history you’ll see it has been steady for many years. Then I lost my job in this last recession. I’d never had a problem finding a job before, but when I’ve applied for jobs lately, my resumé often got stuck in a database and was never even seen by recruiters or prospective employers.” Then discuss how your skillsets will benefit the employer.
What is your greatest strength?
Answer: Discuss all of the skills you possess that will enable you to do the job the employer is seeking to fill– (critical thinking, multitasking, creativity, teamwork, and leadership) and your professional values (energy, commitment, reliability, integrity, productivity). Whenever possible, give real-world examples to illustrate your points, like recent accomplishments, challenges, and goals that show your skills in action.
Now go out there and impress those hiring managers with the skill sets you possess! Knock ’em dead!