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How to combat age discrimination in a job interview

Learn 7 strategies to deal with age bias in a job interview.

2 out of every 3 workers over 45 have experienced age discrimination.

You can use the following strategies to avoid being judged by your age in your next job interview:

1. Show your enthusiasm for the opportunity, instead of your experience

  • Instead of focusing on how many years of experience you have or on how long you worked at your previous jobs, show your enthusiasm.
  • Talking about your professional experience can have the unintended consequence of intimidating your interviewer, if he/she is younger than you.

2. Adopt a consulting mentality

  • See the interview as a consulting conversation: you should show curiosity and a learning mindset.
  • Lean on the open questions and be a committed listener: this will show that you fully understand the context of the organization and the challenges to be met, while allowing you to demonstrate how you can add more value to the company.
  • This approach will help you present yourself with more confidence and you will appear to your interviewer as a partner or teammate. 

3. Use a modest and non-hierarchical approach

  • Since collaboration is a norm for Millennials, anything resembling a hierarchical style or personality is a warning signal about your ability to fit into a culture where work is carried out collectively.
  • By expressing genuine humility, you can demonstrate an egalitarian approach to collaboration with others.

4. Make a connection with your interviewer

  • Starting an interview in a warm manner is an effective way of influencing others: find the ways to establish a personal connection with your interviewer, for example, you can use cultural references to which a younger person can relate such as a popular series on Netflix, etc.
  • Humor is another effective way to connect with your interviewer and to show that you are likely to be a good co-worker. However, you should avoid outdated jokes or gags and humor about your age.

5. Show your ability to work with people of different age groups

  • To accomplish this, you can talk about your professional and personal projects and you can show your willingness to work with younger colleagues.
  • Mention how can learn and benefit from other people’s experiences, skills, and personalities, regardless of their age/gender/ethnic background.

6. Be authentic

  • Fitting in with a younger group of people doesn’t necessarily mean you should look like them: what is really important is that you feel comfortable with the organization’s culture.
  • Renewing yourself a little won’t hurt: choose those current tendencies which are closer to your personality.

7. Learn to reformulate inappropriate comments and/or questions

  • If your interviewer mentions that the company is looking for younger talent, you can reply that they must actually be looking for someone innovative.
  • If you are not sure of how to reply to an inappropriate comment or question, ask for more information on the subject: your strategy should be to divert attention from your age while focusing on why you are suitable for the job.