Most commonly asked questions to older candidates

Jeep Chang

January, 24 2019, 5:39 AM

The interview has always been the hardest part for job seekers, especially seasoned professionals who know that they have loads of experience yet will be faced by ageist comments and discrimination. The best way to go about it, is to be prepared and alleviate any concerns about ability, qualification, fit and salary so you can really land the job. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and how to answer them.

  • How do you stay relevant?

Don’t take this question as a personal attack—use it as an opportunity to showcase your skills. “You have to launch into marketing mode and really sell yourself,” Point to specific things you’ve done to keep your skills current, such as taking online courses, obtaining certifications, subscribing to e-newsletters, following industry leaders on social media, attending conferences and networking events, or volunteering etc. 

  • How old are you?

Although this question appears to be innocent, most young recruiters tend to use it as a filter to disqualify candidates based on irrelevance. There are a couple of ways you can respond. Try to steer the conversation toward your experience, “with an emphasis on what you’ve done most recently, rather than a detailed overview of a 20- or 30-year career. You could also emphasise on how age doesn't matter and focus on all the qualities that make you a great candidate.” It could also help to understand why this question is being asked. Maybe there’s an answer, like the job requires heavy lifting, intensive use of technology etc, in which case you could discuss how you’d be able to handle that. 

  • Do you think you are overqualified for this position?

This is often a classic way of pushing out older candidates. Reply by stating your enthusiasm and passion to work at this position. Often recruiters think that older professionals are not eager to learn and develop new skills. Show them that you are able to adapt and change, and convince them by telling how the organisation could benefit from your transferable skills. It is also important to help them understand that your aspirations align with the position at this stage in your career and that you would be a great fit in such a position. This question also has a salary component to it, so help them understand that your salary expectations are negotiable. 

  • How tech-savvy are you?

Highlight the types of software and technologies you’ve used in previous projects and work, show recruiters that you are updated with technology trends and knowledge. That you are familiar with social media platforms, adaptive and able to pick up new skills quickly. Showing that age doesn’t stop you from learning and it shouldn’t be the main reason for not hiring seasoned professionals. If you're not too comfortable, be honest and let them know you're willing to learn from peers and be reverse mentored by younger colleagues as well. 

  • Would you be comfortable working with a younger team?

Be ready to explain why you look forward to being a senior member of the staff. Working with younger team mates can be wonderful experience since it allows you to learn, share and collaborate in a high quality, cross-generational environment. Be sure to come across as humble and willing to learn and emphasise on the fact that diversity leads to high performing teams.