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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

8 Interview Questions & Answers for Older Workers (pt. 2)

"Your resume indicates you have worked at a lot of different places. Can you comment on that?"

• " Each of those positions broadened my knowledge and skill base. Each was a promotion. "
• " It does appear that way, but, in the last 10 years, the economy has been such that mergers have forced a number of us to realize our potential in various environments. " (Always turn a perceived negative into a real positive!)

"You were with your last company for 19 years. Can you change the way you did things?"

• " I am looking for change! "
• " My last company underwent many changes during that time, and I enjoyed trying new things and ideas. " (Show examples whenever possible.)

"We are on the cutting edge of technology. Can you keep up?"
• Again reinforce skills, classes/courses and upgrades you have had. You may need to mention this several times and in as many different ways as possible to overcome their doubt.

"I see you have been a consultant. Does that just mean you were out of work?"
• " My old company brought me back on contract to complete several projects, which I did — and now I want to see if there is something more exciting out there. "
• " I understand lots of people are calling themselves consultants while they look for a new position. " (Laugh — sometimes, it's OK to insert a little bit of levity.)

"What do you think you are worth since you have been in the work world so long?"

• Never respond with a specific dollar amount. Affirm that you have vast skills and experience. Indicate that you are either willing to start over to show them what you bring to the table or deserving of top dollar. Either way, be confident.
• Ask them what dollar amount is allocated for the position in this year's budget.
• Ask if they are offering you the job!

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  1. I spend about 50% of my time looking for work and 50% of my time volunteering, primarily with the Boy Scouts and Knights of Columbus. For a recent phone interview, I wanted to be prepared for the question “what have you been doing for the last 5 months” so I wrote a summary of my volunteer work, education, and home improvement projects during this time. Below is the list of accomplishments that are volunteer and education related.

    Prepared and gave a speech on Project Management to a chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants.
    Helped two Boy Scouts obtain their Eagle Scout rank by teaching them project management.
    Developed 7 swim lanes flowcharts that documented the processes of programs that the Knights of Columbus State Respect Life committee does annually. I worked with each project chairman to develop these and I presented them at a committee meeting where we made live changes and approved them. They also approved three job description documents.
    Wrote a survey to a 140 member organization that I belong too, got it approved, and developed a plan to get close to 99% survey participation. Created a database and have been entering data for it.
    Recruited a replacement chairman to a state-wide organization that I belong to, trained him on his duties, and transitioned another member’s duties to another chairman.
    Took two long backpacking trips with the Boy Scouts, teaching them the Back Packing Merit Badge and earning the 50 mile award.
    Putting my new NRA Instructor certifications to work by teaching shooting skills at a Boy Scout camp and the Great Lakes Jamboree this summer.
    Taught 3 of 4 classes in Personal Finance to 20 boy scouts.
    Prepared for and ran a quarterly financial investment education club meeting which I am the president of.
    Started a CISCO networking class at NWTC as part of the Cisco Academy and am holding a 96% going into the final.

    The question never came, but I was ready for it in more detail than I could have possibly had time for. I would have paraphrased the list. It would be a better answer than a fluff answer. -Mark A Kohls, Green Bay Wisconsin

  2. Good idea here, most interviewers would probably hate to admit that you were busier than their current employees !!

  3. "member organization that I belong too" - at least you got it right the next time, but the extra "o" here stuck out like a sore thumb. You sound like someone who can put together a document, but lack the proof reading skills that one would expect. What if the customer asked for a copy to add to your portfolio to be reviewed by the next level of management and this “little typo” put you out of the running in midsentence?

    Note that most grammar and spell checkers will not point out wrong word usage.

    There are a number of other homonyms that can get one in trouble. My pet peeve - when a software or hardware engineer professional writes the wrong word for "there", usually using "their" in documentation or code comments, or using “their” when they mean “they’re”. How many times have you seen "you're" for "your" or vice versa (not "visa versa")?

    A few others:
    - "its" and "it's" because the possessive "its" seems like maybe it should end with "'s". Because possessive pronouns already show ownership an apostrophe is not used.

    - "affect" (a verb) and "effect" (a noun).

  4. These are all logical answers but will not make or break if you are hired. Most interviewers believe that an overqualified employee if hired will soon leave the company when a better opportunity at higher pay comes along and will risk inexperience for experience. In today's market with multiple resumes in consideration for every position it is highly unlikely that someone looking to transfer skills from another industry will be hired.


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