Interview Tips for the Mature Worker
Ben wrote: "My position at my company has been eliminated. I am in my 50's, and am having a difficult time finding a job. When I do apply to jobs, I'm finding it difficult to get an interview. Any suggestions"?
The HRmeister: "Ben, this economy is particularly challenging for Baby Boomers. Many have not had to look for a job in a very long time, and the market and job search techniques used totally are totally different. I am assuming that you know what type of work you are interested in pursuing. If not, I recommend that you read Richard Bolles' 'What Color is Your Parachute', as you will want to narrow down and focus on the type of work you are interested in.
First, I recommend that you research resume writing (Google, library), as you will want to create a well constructed resume. Look for opportunities to quantify $ you have made for your previous company (like sales) or $ or time you have saved your company. Then, if you aren't already on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com), you will want to create a profile, and start networking with people who you know. LinkedIn supplements (and is not a substitute for) face-to-face networking that you will need to do, reaching out to your contacts, re-acquainting yourself with them first, before informing them that you are in 'transition', and seeing if they know of any opportunities. A large percentage of organizations' positions are filled through networking efforts.
If you are fortunate to get an interview, you will want to research the company, finding out as much about it as you can (Google, library, contacts). Anticipate the types of targeted behavioral interviewing questions you will be asked, e.g., tell me about your opportunity areas (a.k.a weaknesses), and what you're doing about them, etc. Look for an opportunity to inject some information you have learned about the company into your interview answers, as this will 'set you apart' from the other applicants, which is your goal. In addition, since 'first impressions' still count a great deal, be sure you are no more than 10 minutes early to the interview, and even though the organization may offer business casual dress, come to the interview well-groomed in professional business attire (neat, clean and, well fitting...and shined shoes). Good eye contact, posture, and body language will also be needed.
Since the goal of the interviewer is to find out as much about you as possible in the time allotted (past behavior is predictive of future behavior) be prepared to do more than 50% of the talking. Before the actual interview, practice interviewing with someone who will give you an honest assessment of how you have done, offering suggestions on areas you might improve.
After the interview (within 24 hours), send a thank-you note (an e-mail is fine) to your interviewer. Think of the company's 'needs' in this position, and address how you will meet those needs. Also remember to inject anything you may have forgotten to tell the interviewer or wish to stress about your experience and background.
While I have only attempted to hit the high points on this topic in this blog, this will give you an idea of what's entailed as you work on securing your next opportunity.