Smashing perceptions - Five questions you may find difficult to answer at an interview
By TAEN – The Age and Employment Network
If you are asked about your age
Don’t volunteer your age but if you are asked directly, don’t be defensive about it. Say that you are in your 50s or 60s and then direct the focus to the position at hand and act positively and enthusiastically.
- I am really keen on this opportunity because I have always been very interested in this area of work.
- I enjoy working with younger colleagues and keeping up to speed with latest practice and techniques.
If you are asked
about your health
Emphasise the steps you take to keep your energy and fitness levels up. If you have a disability or health problem, do not hide it but show how you would overcome it or deal with it if hired.
- I took this into account when applying for this job. I do not have any health problems.
- I am as healthy as the average person and I have always had a good attendance record in my previous jobs.
- I appreciate this job needs a certain stamina and I am prepared for this
If you are asked
about your IT skills
You may have very good IT skills – in which case say what they are (the IT packages you are familiar with and have used). If your IT skills are not particularly strong, do try and take some training before your interview to give you confidence in your answers. Give reassurance that you have some idea and express a willingness to get up to speed with the company’s IT procedures.
- I took a refresher course at the local college.
- I practise at my daughter’s when I go over there every week.
If you are asked about working for a younger manager
Many younger managers feel that an older person will resent being told what to do, and be difficult to manage. They also may believe that ‘old habits die hard’ and that it will be difficult for an older person to adapt or keep up to speed with the workload. They will need to feel comfortable about your willingness to follow their requests. You may like to think of an instance where you worked for a younger manager in a previous job or that you accept younger leadership outside work.
- I have had a younger manager in the past and we worked well together.
- That is not a problem for me. I am quite happy to work with a younger manager.
- I don’t define other people by their age – I like working with people of all ages
- I like keeping up with younger people and the latest ways of working.
If you are going for a completely new area of work
You may think your CV has very little that is applicable to the new job for which you are trying. This is where you need to bring into play your technology and organisational skills or industry knowledge and show how you could bring those attributes to a new position.
Don’t forget – many people first think of what they did in their last job, but you may have skills that you have developed in your personal life which you could apply in a work situation. Carers, for example, are very good at multi-tasking. You may have adminstrative skills that will stand you in good stead.
- I have driven all my life and kept a clean driving licence, so I could learn very quickly to make deliveries in a larger vehicle.
- I have always taken part in local community activities in my spare time and I would bring my organisational skills to the job.
If you are asked when you plan to retire?
Now that the Default Retirement Age of 65 years has been abolished, many companies are worried that they may be landed with older people whom they would find it difficult to retire. Unless you have definite plans, you may not wish to answer this with a planned date.
- I enjoy working and I would not have applied for this job if I didn’t think I could manage it.
- I haven’t got an exact date and I don’t plan to set one while I am fit and active and want to work.
- I feel I still have plenty to offer in terms of expertise and energy.
TAEN – The Age and Employment Network works to promote an effective job market that serves the needs of people in mid and later life.
Take part in TAEN’s Survey of Jobseekers aged 50+ http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TAENSurvey
Tell us your experiences of job searching, the questions you were asked and the support you received.
People should not be forced out at 50 plus. Help us to argue for better support for older jobseekers.