Being 50+ and out of work is stressful. Often, that stress sends the wrong message in interview situations. The best way to handle anxiety and present oneself well is to be prepared! Here are some great tips from business and etiquette coaches and HR specialists.
» Look your professional best.
» Don’t forget that with 50 years comes a wealth of experience.
» Smile and remember that your potential employer will feel more comfortable having you represent his company if he or she feels at ease in your presence.
» Don’t try too hard. 50 is the new 30!
» Be prepared to work with people younger than you, so be flexible and have a youthful mind while carrying the elegance of a 50-year-old. Emphasize your ability to work with generational differences.
» Be positive and real, not desperate. Your experience and carriage should speak for you. Understand that employers value older workers because of their experience and ability to work within a team as well as their understanding, knowledge and practice of business etiquette and observance of company policies.
» Prepare three questions to ask about the company or job that are well-researched and will serve to impress the interviewer with your preparedness and interest.
» Be optimistic. Positive thinking is imperative. A “this next job is mine” attitude is essential.
» If you’ve been out of work for some time, don’t focus on it with the interviewer.
» Refer to your résumé; don’t treat it as a disconnected document, but tie it in to the interview.
» Don’t give up or be dismayed if the process of interviewing for jobs takes longer than expected.
» Young or “old,” first impressions are crucial. Be the best you can be.
What HR Specialists Say
» Research new jargon and the prospective company.
» Focus on your experience, not your years.
» Determine the hard-to-answer questions and how you will respond ahead of time. Example: When asked, “Aren’t you overqualified?” respond, “I’m uniquely qualified.”
» Assure the prospective employer that you are in tune with the latest computer and technical skills (and be sure you are up-to-date).
» Be prepared to answer questions about specific situations in your previous jobs.
» Never air the dirty laundry from past jobs.
» Never bring up money. If the interviewer does, ask what he or she is looking for. Research salary levels so that you have an idea of the going rate for the specific job.
» Don’t show up early; you’ll look too eager. Show up on time or just five minutes prior to the interview.
» Always send a handwritten thank-you note. Wait a week, and follow up with a phone call to ask when you might expect to hear back.
Links to More Great Advice
— John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. If you have questions about business or social etiquette, just ask John at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjr. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.