You’re through the first hurdle when applying for a job and you’ve secured an interview – now what? While upcoming job interviews can create a mixture of nerves and excitement, the good news is that there are a few things you can do to stay calm on the day.
Below, we’ve pulled together a list of six interview tips to help prepare you for a job interview in your 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Things to do before a job interview
Before you head off for your interview, it’s important to do some background research in advance. Knowledge is power, and you can never underestimate the confidence you’ll get from learning more about the company, its values, its specific roles, etc.
If you visit the website of most large employers, you’ll be able to gather a treasure trove of information to help you.
For example, a quick look at the Sainsbury’s website and you’ll find their values, vision, what skills they’re looking for, and even some tips from them on how to increase your chances of success. All of this is in addition to the information provided on a basic job spec about the role you’re applying for.
Most companies make this information freely available on their website and therefore expect you to have done some homework before your interview.
You can expect to be asked about why you want the job and why you want to work for that company specifically – so it’s helpful to use the information available on a company’s website to boost your confidence and help you prepare some strong responses.
Things to do during a job interview
1. Be positive
The big day has arrived and you’re on the way to the interview. One of the most important things you can do is be positive – it’s infectious. Positive people radiate energy, which can make others want to be around them and work with them.
Think of positive outcomes, think about how you’re going to charm your interviewer. Some people find listening to their favourite music on the way to the interview can help put them in a positive frame of mind, while others prefer to sit quietly and conserve their energy beforehand.
One important benefit of having age on your side is that you know yourself. Use this to your advantage and do what you know you need to in order to put yourself in the best frame of mind.
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2. Tell them why you want the job - specifically this job at this company
Everyone likes a compliment and there can be no better one than being told that you’re clever and have made a smart decision, so it’s worth thinking about how you can use this to your advantage in an interview.
The interviewer has clearly chosen to work for the company you’ve applied for – and whether they’ve been there for one week or 15 years, they’ve decided to commit a large amount of their time and energy to the company. They believe in it.
This means that chances are, they want to work with people who feel the same way and it’s nice for them to have their decision validated by others. They don’t want to know that you’re applying because there’s nothing else available. They want to believe that you can get any job you want, but that you want this job, working with them.
The important thing to remember is that the way you let them know this should be credible and personal to you. This is why it’s often helpful to do research on the company and role in advance to understand more about the company and consider what your unique motivations for wanting to work there are.
Whatever the role – from being a marketing director to working on a construction site – employers will always be looking at how well you can communicate.
Effective communication is one of the defining features in the success of our species – the ability to understand one another, work together, and make things happen that we couldn’t do as individuals. And communication is never more important than when you’re working as part of a team in the workplace.
A single breakdown in communication can be hugely costly, damaging customer reputation, and preventing hundreds of other people from doing their jobs – so it’s not surprising that companies focus on this aspect so much.
But the hidden ingredient isn’t ‘what you say’ or ‘how you say it’ – it’s all about what you don’t say and how well you listen. People will usually forgive you for using the wrong words or going off point (a little), but what they tend to be less forgiving about is not being listened to or being talked at for 15 minutes solid.
If you don’t listen to your interviewer, then they might ask themselves: why would you listen to them on the job? Too often, bright, experienced candidates talk themselves out of a job by simply speaking too much and not letting the interviewer speak or ask the questions they need to.
Interviewers typically have a number of things that they’re looking for in a job interview. They’re also used to leading you in a way that gives you the opportunity to say what they need to hear. So if you follow their lead and stop to listen or ask questions regularly, they’ll most likely walk you towards the answers they want to hear.
4. Know your strengths and weaknesses - and have some great examples prepared
Many employers these days will ask you competency-based questions – these can be along the lines of “Tell me about a time you did this” or “Give me an example of when you went above and beyond for a customer”.
The reason for this is that many employers believe an evidence-based approach to what you’ve already done is better than asking what you would hypothetically do in the future. Many of us will be able to give a better example of what we would do, rather than what we’ve actually done – which is exactly why they ask the more difficult question.
But how can you prepare examples for every possible question? The short answer is that you can’t. However, you can create the conditions for success.
A trick here is to flip it around and rather than prepare answers to an unlimited set of questions, think about some really good examples of your work and outside projects that you’re proud of and remind yourself of the details.
If you’re particularly proud of something, whether it was in the workplace or not, it’s likely that you demonstrated a number of positive working behaviours to achieve it. It’s also likely that this same example can be used to demonstrate a whole range of positive behaviours – from taking the initiative or influencing other people to going above and beyond to meet a deadline.
By switching it around to focus on your achievements, rather than worrying about what questions you could be asked, you can give yourself a little more control. This allows you to prepare in a meaningful way, but importantly, it also boosts your confidence by remembering the great things you’ve done.
5. If you've been told that you'll have to sit a short numeracy and literacy test then be sure to prepare
Nowadays it’s common for employers to ask candidates to sit short literacy and numeracy tests as part of a job interview. If this is the case, the company interviewing you will usually inform you about the tests when they give you an interview date and time.
These tests are usually quite basic and are designed to test your logical reasoning and written communication skills.
If your employer informs you that you’ll have to take a literacy and/or numeracy test, it’s always a good idea to ask which test publisher they’re using. That way, you can visit their website, where you’ll be able to find out more about the format of the tests, and might even be able to find example questions. The questions on the test will usually differ depending on what line of work you’re going into.
Each test will usually be timed, but make sure that you don’t rush, and that you read all questions carefully. If you find yourself with extra time at the end, it’s always a good idea to go over your test and check that you’ve answered each question to the best of your ability.
Thoroughly checking can help you to pick up on any small mistakes you might have made. If you’re ever in doubt about an answer, it’s usually best to take a guess, rather than leaving it blank – as a guess could be right, but a blank answer definitely won’t score you any extra marks.
Tests can often feel scarier than they actually are because they take us back to our school days. But it’s important to remind yourself of how much life experience you’ve acquired since then. Take a few deep breaths, and remember that you’ve got this!
For some more tips on getting yourself test-ready, check out our article; Common types of psychometric tests and how to prepare for them.
6. Be your ‘best you’
We all have good days and bad days. Days where we think we really ‘nailed it’, and days where we know we didn’t quite hit the mark. And while we can’t eliminate the bad days, we can use our knowledge of ourselves to create the best possible conditions for success.
Make sure to arrive early so you’re not hot or flustered when you get there. Take a book, some interview notes, or even some headphones to get you in the right frame of mind for the interview – only you’ll know what works for you.
Finally, be well prepared. Not only does this help you answer specific questions, but it can also give you a strong sense of confidence going into the interview.
While you obviously want to be your ‘best you’, it’s important to be just that – yourself. You should strive to be authentic so people feel they can trust you. The robots may be coming someday, but today we still have people, and people like people, quirks and all.
Sometimes, it’s those little bits of character that creep out around the edges of a well-delivered interview, that make people remember us over other candidates.
We hope that these tips have been helpful and that you feel confident about your upcoming interview – or any interview you might be invited to in the future.
You may feel like you’re particularly good at interviews, or you may believe that they aren’t your strong suit. Nevertheless, like anything, being a great interviewee is something that can be learned, practised, and honed.
Just remember to research the company beforehand, be positive, listen, tell them why you want to work there specifically, know your strengths and weaknesses, and, most of all, be yourself.
If you’d like some more help with acing your interview, you can head over to the interview tips section of our website.
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