Interview Tricks for Old Job Seekers

The high-tech industry does not discriminate against the old. It is a hyper-competitive industry. The employers are pragmatic. They simply want the best value for their money. For that, old people usually are not a good deal. You, one of the old, need to develop some techniques to deal with this.

First, get rid of the entitlement that comes with so-called experience. Someone with 15 years of experience digging trenches is not better than one. In fact, the younger ones are probably less injured and more eager. Never assume that people will associate experience with skills. Demonstrate your skills. You need to show that yours are better, else you are simply older.

Are you mentally agile, flexible, and curious? Or are you rigid, bureaucratic, and hierarchical? Are you irritated that people do not defer to you, automatically? Employers want someone who gets things done, picks up what’s on the floor, and a team player. I am pretty sure that you think you are one such talent. But can you demonstrate that? Such demonstration should be subtle and indirect: show, don’t tell. Give examples of you being agile, flexible, and curious.

What’s your energy level? Are you perky, social, friend-seeking? During the interview, gather your energy before each interviewer walks into the room. Smile, give a good hand-shake, focus, and engage. Listen carefully, give appropriate social responses. Pick up clues and show interest. Be a fun person that has a wide range of interests, diverse hobbies, and large set of friends. I am not saying all young people are like this, but old ones are not.

Are you modern? Do you know the new tools? Do you keep up with the evolution of technology? What’s the latest of whatever? What’s your lingo? What do you call that thing that young people cannot live without?

Are you wiser? How so? Can you pick a positive example such as “You can improve this process by 200%. I tried it before and this is how it will work.” Instead of: “This won’t work because I tried it 10 years ago and failed.” The former is wisdom, the latter obstructive.

Most employers do not age discriminate, most candidates do it to themselves (the victim mentality). Remember that the job search is hard for everyone. The young probably fail even more frequently, they simply take offers more easily and accept rejection as the price they must pay to grow up.

Most importantly, complaining about age discrimination does not land you a job. You are unlikely to complain to your prospective employer directly. He or she will hear it second- or third-handedly. And your offer is off right then, “That guy has a chip on his shoulder. He will be too hard to work with.”

Me? I am too old for that.

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