Winning interviews as an older worker

By Jeff Altman

I was in the search business for longer than I care to admit (I used to have hair that I wore as an Afro and dress in suits that were many colors of the rainbow other than blue, black, or gray). In those early days, as I looked at resumes, I would wonder, “What happens to people in technology when they turned 40? I just don’t see a resume of people like that! Where do they disappear to?

Today, as the workforce becomes older and grayer, older workers are more common in all fields but opportunities are sometimes limited because of certain biases that our culture has. After all, isn’t America the land of opportunity . . . except for models over the age of 16? Don’t we all notice that tv stars are much younger than we are and the music is so different?

(I’m almost 55 and am working with hiring managers who wonder whether I can “relate” to what they want).

So what’s the concern all about?

Older workers know it alls. Been there! Done that!
They won’t fit in
They’ll find it hard to take direction from someone younger.
No energy. They’re bored and tired and burned out.

And, when you go on an interview, it’s not like someone is going to ask you, “So, are you tired and burned out.”

“Nope. I’ve got a lot of energy and juice in me.”

“OK. We’re satisfied.”

What an employer will do is observe your manner and behavior to see if it’s congruent with their image of what someone with energy should act like.

Thus, in addition to competence, you, as an older worker are going to have to actually demonstrate that you are not like that cultural stereotype that has been cast into all of our minds.

  1. Dress in age-appropriate outfits appropriate for your industry. An accountant should dress differently than someone working in fashion.
  2. Get a good night of sleep the night before. We’re all busy. Don’t put yourself in a position where you are physically tired and being asked to interview.
  3. Put a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eyes when you meet each person.
  4. Remember that personal leadership means being willing and able to take direction. If you are interviewing for a staff position, proactively bring up working with your manager, providing input, and then following their lead.

Just because a little or a lot of snow appears in your hair or beard doesn’t mean that you are less talented or less able than a 20 something. It does mean that you have had experiences and (hopefully) the wisdom from them to avoid some of the mistakes that occur from having experienced more professionally.

Be conscious of age bias and sell your personality against the stereotype. More good opportunities will be available to you.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 12000 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? Schedule a free Discovery call.

If you have a quick question for me, you can get it answered with a 3-5 minute video at Want to do it live?

If you want to learn how to interview like a pro, order “The Ultimate Job Interview Framework” from The Kindle and print versions are available on Amazon.

Connect with me on LinkedIn. Like me on Facebook.

Join and attend my classes on Skillshare.Become a premium member and get 2 months free.

Watch my videos on YouTube at, the Job SearchTV app for FireTV, Roku or a firestick or for AppleTV and 90 smart tv platforms.

You can order a copy of “Diagnosing Your Job Search Problems” for Kindle on Amazon and receive free Kindle versions of “No BS Resume Advice” and “Interview Preparation.” If you are starting your search, order, “Get Ready for the Job Jungle.”

About the author

Leave a Comment, Thought, Opinion. Speak like you're speaking with someone you love.

%d bloggers like this: