An over-50 job seeker asked me about specific tips for a job interview with a 30-something hiring manager. How should she prepare differently?
Prepare to interview well, not differently
The short answer is that you don’t prepare differently – you just focus on interviewing well. A strong Interview requires you to:
- Match the job description to your background, skills and expertise;
- Research the company to prepare relevant examples of when you have worked within a similar culture, structure and size;
- Outline specific reasons why you are interested in this role; and
- Harness your energy reserves to exhibit enthusiasm throughout the interview process.
Address age issues where they obviously occur
That said, all job interviews should take into account who the hiring manager is, what the team make-up is, and how you specifically contribute to that team . In this case, there is a wide age gap with the hiring manager (and as it turned out, the only other member of the team). If you notice that you are decades apart from the hiring manager and team, they also probably notice.
The hiring manager may be concerned that you won’t respect their authority. Younger colleagues may fear you’ll assume a higher status even though they have been there longer. If you have worked for a younger boss in the past, work that in as part of one of your examples. Or use the interview as its own example by showing no hesitation or discomfort with the age disparity during the interview. Ask your prospective hiring manager about their goals for the position and their insights into the target market. Talk to your prospective colleagues as peers.
Highlight your combined advantages
The age disparity might be a non-issue and even an advantage. In this particular case, the role was a new consumer finance product, and the over-50 job seeker had seen more market cycles than the younger team – a valuable perspective for building out this product. She also had more connections in the older demographic – a customer marketing advantage.
Depending on what other experience, skills and expertise the hiring manager and team member brought, there could be other synergies among their backgrounds. Age is just one factor. For example, this over-50 job seeker had spent many years as a consultant and was used to parachuting into new and uncertain situation. This experience would be particularly helpful during the launch phase of this new product.
Get comfortable yourself
I wonder if this job seeker is concerned what the hiring manager or team thinks about the age disparity because she is concerned about it. How do you feel about reporting into a much younger boss or working within a much younger team? If you are uncomfortable about it, your discomfort may torpedo your interview performance, not the age issue in the first place.
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