HELP! MY INTERVIEWER IS OLD!Mar 29, 2021
We all want to find a job where we’ll fit in.
But sometimes the people who do the interviewing for perfectly good jobs … are older.
Or even younger …
Or different from us in a million other ways!
Does that mean the job isn’t a fit?
A lot of interviewing is done by Human Resources people who spend most of their time thinking about things like benefits and conflict in the workplace. They’re not going to be your day-to-day associates.
But there’s a trend to increasingly diverse teams, now, which means that there are likely to be members of any work team you’re considering joining who are not like you.
And that’s a good thing.
Harvard Business Review has published information about studies showing that companies with the most gender diverse teams make more profits. And now we know that non-homogenous teams are simply smarter! (https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter)
Still, it can be challenging when your interviewer or hiring executive is from a completely different generation!
Rule #1: Don’t assume stereotypes.
Just as millennials don’t like being thought of as lazy, baby boomers don’t like being thought of as “technology klutzes” or as people who won’t get out of the way to let younger people take their jobs! Having people say, “Well, you’re Generation X, so you must…” is offensive before you even finish the sentence. There are stereotypes about gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, even wealth and poverty; discipline yourself not to fall into those traps.
Rule #2: Be accessible.
People have different degrees of comfort with directness. Take your cues from the person you’re dealing with – don’t try to drag them into being more like you!
Rule #3: Don’t be too defensive.
Being defensive makes you look as if you’re hiding something. Here’s a test: have a friend listen to your explanation of why you were laid off from your last job (or whatever you think of as a weakness on your resume). If your friend says you sound defensive, you do. Practice sharing just the facts and moving on to something more positive.
Rule #4: Be genuine.
If you’re in an interview doing your best imitation of your favorite superhero, and they hire you, they’re going to expect those superhero qualities when you show up for work. Instead, be the best version of your real self, focus on your interviewer, not yourself, and ask what types of qualities they think are most important for someone in this job you’re interviewing for. If you’re not sincerely interested in your interviewer, they’ll know it, and they’ll move away from you -- no matter how impressive your resume may be.
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