Careers LIFESTYLE  >  Career Series Part 5 – 12 Job Interview Tips for People 50+

Career Series Part 5 – 12 Job Interview Tips for People 50+

Career Series Part 5 – 12 Job Interview Tips for People 50+
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Illustration by Sarah Stevens


There are certain things to say and things to listen for in a job interview when your 50+.  Here are the top 12.

Many people who are 50+ find themselves encountering the job interview process for the first time after years and years. The process is a bit complex as we’ve covered in previous articles, but the new interview questions are equally challenging. I served as an Executive Coach and career counselor for seven years focused mostly on people who were 50+. Here’s what to expect and how to survive today’s job interview process:

The 12 most commonly asked interview questions and opportunities on how to make them work for you.

  • “So, tell me about yourself?” 

This is the usual opener in any interview and the most dreaded.  You need to have a 60 to 90 second response.  This is your “elevator pitch.”  It’s a succinct statement relevant to the job opportunity that you’ve written out and memorized.  It’s not your life story.  It’s why you’re right for this job.  You have more to talk about here and they will most certainly ask.

  • Why are you leaving your current position? 

The usual reasons have to do with total compensation, lack of or limited benefits, little or no potential for advancement, or a difficult job environment related to supervisors and associates.  The key is to stay positive.  Don’t “diss” the old boss or complain about past co-workers.  Talk positively about wanting to make more, do more, grow professionally or have better benefits.  That’s a fair statement and don’t be afraid to say it.

  • Why do you believe you are qualified for this position? 

This is the most critical question you will be asked.  Your ability to align your qualifications with the job description is the key.  Look at the top 4 job requirements and find a way to align what you’ve done with what they need.  Practice saying this out loud to a friend, family member or yourself.  This is truly the only important question in the interview.  If you nail this you might get the job.  Fail this and there’s no chance.

  • What are your strengths? 

You might be great at Excel and PowerPoint but go beyond that to define how you interact with people; have solved problems and have been a positive force in your past work.  Don’t be shy.  Hammer this home!

  • What are your weaknesses? 

Be careful here.  This is in the category of a trick question.  Try to think of something that is essentially positive.  “I care too much,” or “I keep working when I get home,” are safe bets.

  • Do you take initiative? 

Think of how you improved a process, solved conflict in your past workplace or simply did something above and beyond what was expected.

  • Take control with insightful questions. 

One of the biggest things that sets any candidate for a job apart is their ability to ask questions rather than answer them.  Ask about the success factors for the position.  How performance will be evaluated.  The department’s goals and the total organization goals.  Start to take control of the interview.

  • Don’t go off on tangents. 

It’s so tempting to talk about a bad boss or a great thing you might have done.  Stay focused.  Skip the bad boss stuff and highlight the great thing you did quickly and succinctly.

  • Don’t bring up questions about compensation if it has not been communicated. 

What we all want to say is, “How much is the pay and what kind of benefits do I get?”  That is a great question and if you don’t know, don’t ask!  Typically an unidentified compensation package is negotiable.  That’s good.  If they specifically identify the compensation and the benefits or lack of benefits, it’s not.  If compensation is an open-ended question you will have time to discuss this as you continue through the interview process.  Be patient and get them to want you before you ask these kinds of questions.

  • Demonstrate your knowledge of the company. 

Do your homework and make sure you have studied the company and the business category of the company or organization you are talking to.  Everyone you interview with is thinking about their company everyday.  You need to think and act like you’re doing the same.

  • Act like you already have the job. 

The insightful questions you have in an interview make the best impression.  Think like you have the job and it’s your first day.  What would you ask your new boss and what would you want to know if you were going to start the job today?

  • Follow-up and “thank you’s”

Always send a follow-up email to the people you’ve met and thank them for their time and communicate your interest once again in the job and their company.  Even if you don’t get hired there may be an opportunity in the future at the same company or organization, and this will create a positive impression.

Other questions and conversations can always occur in an interview for a new job. Just be yourself and answer honestly and openly. The most critical success factor that I’ve found is to ask good and insightful questions about the position, who you will report to and what the goal and objective of the position is all about. Try to get them talking as much as you do and your interview will be more of a conversation than an interrogation. That’s the key.


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