You’re well-educated, your résumé screams experience and you’re vigorously looking for a new job. So why are you so nervous?
Searching for a new job when you’re 50 or older presents a whole new set of challenges. As if interviews weren’t intimidating enough, now you’re trying to dispel all sorts of stereotypes about older job seekers to an interviewer who’s 15 years your junior.
Employment discrimination based on age against anyone over age 40 is illegal under the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. But according to Gail Geary, career management consultant and author of Over-40 Job Search Guide (Jist Works), older job seekers often find themselves uncomfortably struggling to answer tough age-related questions during interviews. Here are five of the most common age-related interview questions – and how to field them gracefully – according to Geary’s book:
1. “Will you be using this job as a bridge to retirement?”
Other variations of this question include “Where do you expect to be five years from now?” and “What are your long-term career goals?” Geary’s book states that if you’re over age 50 and look your age, openly addressing the retirement issue may benefit you. Reassure your interviewer that you are excited about the position and plan to continue working for a long time. If you’re relatively young and look even younger, you may not need to address the issue at all.
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2. “What are your salary requirements?”
This question is tough for everyone, but it can be even harder for older candidates with decades of experience who do not want their previous high salaries working against them. When faced with this question, first respond with a cool, noncommittal answer. If pressed, give a salary range based on your research. For example, say: “I’ve researched the salary range for this position in our area and have found the typical salary range to be from $125,000 to $175,000, plus bonus. Is this what you have in mind?”
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