10/21/2021 | By Kari Smith

Looking for work later in life may feel a bit different than when you first entered the workforce. Although you have valuable experience under your belt, you may feel at a disadvantage because you are over 50, or you may feel confident – maybe even too confident – that your years of experience have given you a leg up. These 6 interview tips for older job seekers can increase your chances of landing that new position.

1. Be prepared

Before applying for a job, be sure that you know what the role entails. Are your computer skills current? Are you experienced in software applications used in this role?

Do your research to find out what programs are frequently used, and remember that even common software versions change frequently. For example, if you have not made a spreadsheet or slide presentation in a few years, you may need to take a class to brush up on the latest version. Even a review of a corporate job’s basic systems such as email and calendaring may be in order, since your interviewer may ask you about your familiarity with these programs.

2. Prepare your public profile.

During the application process, your HR representative or interviewer likely already knows a great deal about you from your social media, including online résumés on sites such as LinkedIn. Be sure that your résumé is up to date, and that all information is accurate. Keep in mind that if you have a social media presence on other popular platforms, your interviewer can see any public posts with just a quick search. Keep political, confrontational, or posts in poor tastes off your social media, as these can stop an interview before it has even started.

3. Turn on your screen.

It may be jarring to realize that corporate real estate and face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past for some companies. Even for jobs where workers are in-person, the companies may have shifted to virtual interviews via Zoom or other video-conferencing platforms. Familiarize yourself with this technology ahead of time – even make practice calls with family or friends – so that you are fully prepared for your interview. Be sure that your background is cleared of any clutter, that you are well lit, that you are interviewing in a quiet area, and that you speak clearly.

4. Let your experience work for you.

Of all the interview tips for older job seekers, this may be the most relevant, because of your wealth of experience. Those years of experience and tenure can work for you, if you present them well. Whether you are looking for a new job in your current field, a new career, or part-time work after retirement, your experience can be a building block for your next step. However, if your years and experience are presented in an arrogant manner, that may be a turn-off to your interviewer. It is important to portray confidence in your skills and abilities without being braggadocios.

In addition, keep your conversations about recent experience – not about what you did 20 or 30 years ago, which may be irrelevant and may shift focus to your age.

5. Address your specific situation.

Although discrimination toward older job seekers is illegal and unethical, it still happens, albeit sometimes subtly. Be prepared to clearly and openly address your specific circumstances. If you have retired from a full-time career and are downshifting to a part-time job, address that so that your interviewer will not dismiss you due to over qualification. If you have already retired from one field and are moving to another, be sure to clarify that you are not looking to retire – if that is the case. Although you may have started in one career field at 25 years old and retired 20 years later at 45, you will want to make clear to your interviewer that your previous retirement does not equate to a desire to leave the work force any time soon.

6. Keep it simple

Make a list of possible interview questions as well as your answers. Consider that you may be asked interview questions for someone over 50, so be prepared for those as well.

When asked a question, give a succinct answer to that question, and wait for the next question. If your interviewer asks for further explanation, feel free to give it. Keep the focus on your applicable skills and what you bring to the table – not your age.

The job market, the interview process, and workplace culture are constantly evolving. Reviewing these 6 interview tips for for older job seekers and knowing what to expect can help you to feel more prepared. Do your research and be prepared – an interview is not the time to wing it. Finally, be confident and positive about what you have to offer. At the end of the day, your skills and abilities are what counts.

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith