5 job interview mistakes that baby boomers make

Getting back into the job market after an extended stint with one company can be hard for anyone, but for baby boomers that should be looking at retirement, this undertaking can be made much more difficult due to a number of factors. You might encounter outright ageism, for one thing. But you may also find that you no longer have an appropriate level of education to be considered for positions that you might otherwise be eligible for with your experience. And of course, you may simply be burned out on the prospect of working. However, if it happens that you don’t have a choice in the matter and you have to continue working to support yourself, you need to face the facts: you’re going to have to weather the stormy interview process. And here are just a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

  1. Inadequate preparation. You might think that your level of knowledge and experience speaks for itself, but if that were true you wouldn’t have to interview to get the job. For this reason, it is important to prepare yourself for the interview process by thinking about questions that might be asked and planning appropriate answers. If it’s been a while since you last applied for jobs, you should definitely go online to find lists of commonly asked questions to help you prepare.
  2. Inappropriate attire. Depending on the type of work you’ve been doing and the type of job you’re trying to get, you might not be entirely certain about the level of attire to wear during an interview, even if you’ve interviewed in the past. In general, business casual is considered appropriate for just about any kind of interview, and this means opting for garments that are not quite corporate executive level on the business scale (full suit not required unless you happen to be interviewing for an executive position) and that are better than jeans and tees on the casual scale. A button down shirt and slacks are usually adequate.
  3. Disinterest. If you’ve hit the age of retirement only to realize that you simply don’t have enough money in your 401K and Roth IRA to live on for the foreseeable future, it may be with some amount of grumbling that you reenter the job market. But if you’re not excited about the prospect of taking on a new job it’s going to show during the interview. In fact, a national survey of hiring managers conducted by Career Builder in 2010 showed that more than half listed an apparent lack of interest on the part of applicants as a major factor in their decision not to hire. So an enthusiastic attitude may be essential to nailing the interview and landing the job. In addition, you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to start working if you can muster some excitement about the prospect.
  4. Incorrect marketing. Interviewing is all about selling yourself, so you need to present an attractive package to the hiring manager that is essentially purchasing your services. You need to be clear and concise about what you bring to the table, keeping in mind the requirements of the job you’re interviewing for. Confidence, communication skills, and overall likeability are crucial, but you also want to stand out and be remembered in a positive way.
  5. Saying no to work. It’s important that you find a job you can live with, so you may not be keen, for example, on applying for travel-heavy positions that require you to take jobs in Riyadh, Hyderabad, or Hong Kong. But if you’re desperate, you also can’t afford to disregard any jobs that you are qualified for. Remember that you can always keep looking for something better, but if you need a job now you can’t afford to be too choosy.


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Jenni Proctor

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