An interview invitation can initially stir up strong feelings of excitement and hope for the future, sometimes followed by nerves and a fear of the unknown. If you’re slightly older and it’s been a little while since you’ve attended an interview, then you might also have concerns about who is interviewing you.
Many of our members worry that being interviewed by someone who is 20-30 years younger may lead to an inability to connect with one another due to issues of relatability and understanding – which could end up costing them the job.
However, by accepting the circumstances of the interview and deciding to approach it with a positive outlook, there are plenty of things you can do to help turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one.
Here are a few things to remember if you’re worried about being interviewed by someone younger…
Positivity and confidence go a long way
If you walk into an interview with a younger hiring manager, already assuming that you haven’t got the job, then it’s likely that these negative thoughts will come through in your behaviour – even without you realising it.
A prospective employer will be looking for someone that radiates confidence, positivity, and enthusiasm – regardless of age – because these traits are pleasant to have in the workplace. So be sure to smile and show your interviewer that there’s no reason why they shouldn’t hire you.
Don’t feel you have to apologise or give a disclaimer about your age, because you have nothing to apologise for – and believing in yourself is the first step towards helping others to believe in you too.
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The interviewer is probably just as nervous as you are
Just as you may be nervous about being interviewed by someone much younger, it’s also possible that the interviewer is just as nervous about interviewing a candidate with decades of skills and life experience – so this is something you may already have in common.
The person interviewing you can’t help their age and it’s unlikely that they’ll want their age or position to make you feel uncomfortable. They’ve already taken the positive step of inviting you to interview, so there was clearly something they really liked about your CV and cover letter.
During the interview, they’ll just be keen to get to know you better, so try to relax. It’s likely that the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they’ll be, making for a more positive interview experience for you both.
Your interviewer is only human
Whatever your concerns are about being interviewed by someone younger, make a conscious effort not to take your nerves or frustration out on them.
If they ask you a question that seems like the answer is blindingly obvious, they may simply be following a highly prescriptive interview process from the HR department. It could even be that they are embarrassed at having to ask the question. Remember that your interviewer is only a human being and it’s their job to ask questions that will determine the best person for the role.
Many younger people are far more open to employing and engaging with older workers than you might think, so before you make assumptions about what your interviewer is thinking, it’s best to start each and every interview assuming that there is no reason why they wouldn’t want to hire you.
Relevance is key
Although you may have many years of useful skills and experience, it’s not necessary to detail your entire work history if it’s not relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Interviewers are usually incredibly short on time as they’re likely hiring the vacancy to take away some of their own workload, at the same time as having to spend time interviewing! Respecting their time is a great way of showing them how easy you are to work with and that you understand some of the challenges they face.
In the condensed time frame of an interview, the old adage of quality over quantity is definitely true, so focus on having two or three high-quality examples of work that you’ve done, instead of highlighting how many examples you have.
Try to highlight how you can bring relevant skills and experience into the specific role you are interviewing for to benefit the company, especially when you’re asked competency-based questions.
It’s also worth noting that flexibility and creativity are two skills that many hiring managers really like job candidates to have in a constantly evolving workforce. People who are able to generate original ideas and accommodate changes in their work environment are much easier to work with – so it’s helpful to give examples of ways in which you can demonstrate both of these.
All interviewers will want to see that you have a willingness to learn
There’s a lot of value in having extensive skills and life experience, but your interviewer will also want to see that you’re willing to take on new skills and learn new things.
You may have been in the same job for a long time, meaning that you’re used to doing things a certain way – which will have been hugely beneficial in that role and will mean that you really know your stuff. But not all companies work the same way, many will have different systems and processes and interviewers generally want to know that you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and learn new ways of doing things.
Even within the same company, change is always present and so it’s likely they’ll also be looking to ensure that you’re willing to embrace new changes as they inevitably come.
As Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Rightly or wrongly, that is how many companies view the idea of change and flexibility in the workplace today.
Try to remember that finding a job can be extremely competitive and even being invited to attend an interview is a huge compliment.
Whether you feel you can connect with your interviewer or not, always express your thanks for their time and if you haven’t heard anything after a week (unless they told you it would be longer), then send a follow-up email to remind them of how keen you are on the role and to politely ask when you might expect to hear back from them.
For more interview help, you might want to visit the interview tips section of our site. Here, you’ll find articles such as 6 tips on how to prepare for a job interview in your 50s, 60s or beyond, How to answer competency-based interview questions, and more. And for wider career-related advice and to search jobs, why not visit the jobs and careers section of our site here?