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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Ace Interview Questions as an Older Professional (pt. 2)

3. “Do you have enough energy, stamina or brain power to do the job?”

It’s unlikely you will face this question outright, Geary writes, but you may be asked something like: “How do you feel about working in a fast-paced environment?” or “Are you able to come in early and work late?” This type of question is your cue to talk about your drive, energy and enthusiasm for the job. Give specific examples that reveal your energy using the STAR technique, where you describe the Situation, Task, Action and Result. Also keep in mind that this type of question reveals clues about the job’s demands, hours, deadlines and overall expectations.

4. “Aren’t you overqualified for the position?”

Geary says the question of overqualification is common for mature job seekers, particularly those with 20 or more years of experience. To help avoid this problem outright, Geary suggests including only 10 to 15 years of relevant experience on the résumé. If the question does come up, emphasize your strengths and accomplishments, not the length of your experience – the interviewer may be concerned that you will have excessively high salary requirements or won’t be a fit with the company culture. Remember to always stay positive and try to determine and address the real reason why the interviewer is asking the question

5. “How old are you?”

Again, most interviewers are savvy enough not to ask you this question outright. But they may ask: “When did you graduate from Walker High?” or “I have a friend who graduated from Duke. When were you there?” This type of question is generally illegal, and you can graciously refuse to answer. Other tactics include responding with humor, or addressing the question behind the question: “I am incredibly energetic and expect to be working for a long time.” Whether or not you choose to reveal your age, always keep the atmosphere positive.

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Kate Lorenz, CareerBuilder.com
Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.



  1. Great answers! As a career transition specialist, I believe that the importance of practicing your interviewing is critical. You need to be able to move past obstacles that relate to ageism in a way that engages the interviewer and of course again underlines that you are the man/woman for the job.

    You also have to know the quid pro quo in the interview process, and how to conduct yourself at each stage of the interview, as the first stages are purely a process of elimination.

    Handling salary questions is something that should be done in a particular way depending on where you are in the interview process.

    I had a 60 year old client get his dream job, and I had a client in his mid thirties who faces ages discrimination in an industry where they wanted executives 45+

    The secret to dealing with ageism starts with truly believing in yourself, not feeding into stereotypes, not reacting to questions regarding age but responding in a way that positions you as the man/woman for the job

  2. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT illegal for an interviewer to ask the interviewee's age.

    It is illegal to discriminate because of age. Simply asking one's age does not, by itself, prove age discrimination.

  3. I suppose it is not illegal to ask a candidate's age directly. However, what a position the company would be in if you did not hire the candidate after asking the question. This is why managers and HR staff are told specifically not to ask questions that would put the company at risk for a lawsuit.

    On another note, the STAR technique is a very good one for any interview, not just individuals over 40. There is a process which the individual must undergo to ensure the situations/examples are easily communicated.

    John Doble


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