Five Tips to Combating Ageism in Hiring, Part 3

In Part 1, I described your job search planning. In Part 2, I discussed what you can do to help your resume. In this part, I’ll talk about the interview.

Any candidate needs to prepare for the interview. If you are worried about ageism, consider these tips for these challenges:

  1. Specify your value, first to yourself, and craft interview answers. (Your first sale is always to yourself.) Why are you valuable to this organization?
  2. Be ready to answer questions about salary and promotions.
  3. Be ready to answer common questions even if they are irrelevant.
  4. Looks matter, so make sure you don’t look old.
  5. Prepare in advance to understand what your maturity brings to an organization.

Let’s start with your value and how you prepare to answer questions.

Everyone has stories of their career. Have you prepared yours? What do you want to highlight for your interviewers about your career? Areas you might consider:

  1. Answer a question with your value. Organizations hire people to solve problems. What problems does this organization have and how can you help solve them? You might ask that question, “What problems do you have now?” during a phone screen. Prepare to show how you solved problems like that in the past and how you can solve them for this organization. Refine your answer for the in-person interview, with more examples.
    • How you start and finished work that led directly to an increase in revenue, customer satisfaction, or customer retention/acquisition? Managers want to know about this. You might hear a question that doesn’t sound as if it relates to those questions. If so, determine a way to answer those questions anyway. Here’s an example:
      Question: Tell me about a time you worked on a successful project.
      Answer: Let me tell you about this recent project. (Point to it on your resume.) I was part of the team to reduce the time required to release our product. I automated scripts for everyone to use. (Or, whatever you did.) I estimate the scripts saved us each an hour every day of work. That was five hours each day. Over the course of the project, I estimate it was 25 hours each week times 26 weeks, a total of 650 hours. We thought that allowed us to release the entire project faster—by at least two months. (You have done the math in advance. You are helping the interviewer see your value as you walk through the numbers.)
      If you know the problems the organization needs to solve, can you address that directly with your value?
  2. Know what you want for salary. Everyone has unique needs and value to the organization. What is your minimum salary requirement as a direct employee? Are you willing to take a contract job (and add more money for you to self-fund your own benefits)? Do you want more vacation for a lower salary? What is this job worth to you and what value can you provide?
  3. Prepare your answers to the irrelevant questions. I have ranted about irrelevant questions in several posts. Start with the summary post, How You Answer Irrelevant Questions in an Interview, Part 3. Your job is not to answer the specific question. Your job is to present your qualifications and explain how you will solve problems for this organization. Regardless of how the interviewer asks the question. (Politicians do this all the time.)
  4. Make sure you look young. For me, this is asking about what people normally wear. I like to look as least as good as the people in the office, if not better.  I am not a fan of jeans on an interview (unless they are black dress jeans). I don’t like open-toe shoes, and especially not sandals. However, I am not a fashionista, so you should listen to yourself and not me. I do want to interview people whose clothes fit, are clean, and not wrinkled. You can have gray hair as long as your clothes fit and are not dated back to the 70s. (or, even the 90s.)
  5. Prepare yourself in advance. Interviews are stressful for almost everyone. If you are prepared, you look more mature (as opposed to old). You are ready to present yourself in your best light. What does your maturity provide you? Is it about your ability to facilitate, collaborate, see the big picture, see the details, coach others, help people see where open source solutions might work, and more?

I’ll have a summary post next, suggesting how you can combat ageism in hiring.

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