Should You Reveal Your Age in a Job Interview?

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Age-ism is something many candidates are worried about, and often that worry itself puts a gremlin on their shoulder that gets in the way of their search.  Here’s a question I was asked on this subject, and my answer.  I welcome your thoughts on the topic – leave a comment!

 

 

I usually get thru the HR interview with flying colors. My problem is the Hiring Manager. I usually believe I scored high only to find that I did not get the offer. 

 

I have had HR managers tell me that they (and the hiring manager) were impressed with me and my experience, but have decided to go in a different direction. This usually means going with a younger, less-experienced individual. The issue which is not addressed is that I am 65 years old. I want to work and will stay with the company for years as I have kids in college and want a job. 

 

Do you think I should mention my age in the interview with the hiring manager and why my experience and wanting to stay in the position for the foreseeable future would benefit them, or am I shooting myself in the foot if I bring this up?

 

Dear Age-Challenged:

 

First, let’s address this point, and then we’ll come back to the specific question you raised:

 

“I usually believe I scored high only to find that I did not get the offer”

 

What’s your evidence for scoring high? Do you actually know you did, from the hiring manager explicitly telling you so?

 

It’s absolutely critical that you attempt to find out on the spot how you did, and that can only come from a direct discussion with the hiring manager. Impressions based on the hiring manager’s demeanor and conduct help, but are far from conclusive.

 

Consider this scenario:

 

A salesperson shows you a product or service in which you have some level of interest, and you really like them and their presentation. However, you aren’t planning to buy it from them, at least not anytime soon. (Perhaps you’re not ready, don’t currently have the budget, or can get that product or service at a substantially lower price elsewhere.) Do you tell them outright that you don’t plan to buy? Or do you smile, nod, show them how much you appreciate their help, and go along on your merry way?

 

Similarly, if you did reasonably well in the interview, so that you are still in the running, but the hiring manager has some reservations, would they automatically reveal that?

 

  • They might be thinking that you could be the candidate, but they have some other promising candidates to interview first.
  • They might be thinking that there’s a stronger candidate, but that if that other candidate turns them down, you are the clear number 2 choice. And they don’t want to risk turning you off in the meanwhile.
  • They might feel uncomfortable sharing their reservations, either because they don’t like confrontation or because of a company or HR interview / hiring practice.
  • They might not have solidified the reservations in their own mind, and feel they need a bit of time to reflect.

 

My advice is that no matter how well you think you did, it’s always advisable to ask a question to try to uncover any possible objections there could be. For how to do this, check out:

 

www.JHACareers.com/UncoveringObjections.htm

 

Or, if you prefer to watch a short video, here’s a series of 3 on what you must do to succeed at the end of the interview:

What You MUST Do at the End of Every Interview

 

Now on to your actual question:

 

Do you think I should mention my age in the interview with the hiring manager and why my experience and wanting to stay in the position for the foreseeable future would benefit them, or am I shooting myself in the foot if I bring this up?

 

I see no advantage to volunteering the actual number, unless you happen to look much older than your actual age. And in fact, volunteering it may put the hiring manager in an awkward position, since it’s a question they aren’t supposed to ask.

 

That said, I see a lot of advantage to addressing the latter part, as to why you would plan to stay in the position for a significant period of time.

 

I would think about all the possible objections that could come up because of your advanced age, and find a way to address those during the course of the interview. I wouldn’t do it in the form of “I’m old, but here’s why that wouldn’t be a problem.” Rather, simply demonstrate through your stories and way you present yourself that none of those objections are valid.

 

For example, one concern is likely that you are not as energetic or won’t approach problems with as much passion and enthusiasm as a younger applicant might. What stories can you tell that illustrate your energy, passion and enthusiasm? And are you expressing yourself consistently during the interview with energy, passion and enthusiasm?

 

Another concern might be the salary level you might command due to your extensive experience. What stories can you tell that prove how much more quickly and efficiently you can get the job done / solve the key problems / improve the operation productivity, precisely because of that track record?

 

A third could be whether you are up to speed on new technologies, and still eager to continue learning and expanding your capabilities. If you are asked about, say, your Twitter account, and give the indication that you think that isn’t worth your time, you are likely toast. And it has nothing to do with whether Twitter is or isn’t worth your time, it’s that you would have just revealed a negative attitude towards new technologies.

 

Also consider whether there is anything about your appearance, dress, phone or video presentation (in this era of mostly remote interviews) that fosters the appearance of age, or lack of energy and enthusiasm. Think about what you could do to look and act younger.

 

What do you think?  Leave a comment…

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