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DOWNLOA Interview strategies for fighting age bias

By JodyGilbert ·

After you take a look at this download, please post your feedback, ideas for improvements, or further thoughts on this topic.

--The TechRepublic Downloads Team

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Input from a senior citizen

by amcol In reply to DOWNLOAD: Interview strat ...

Since I'm in the age group to which this information has the greatest potential use, I'll add my two cents' worth.

First...this is principally directed at support and development professionals. Middle or higher levels of management aren't immune from age discrimination but the manifestations and proper responses are entirely different.

Taking each of your questions in the order they appear in the download:

1. Good advice for anyone, not just older workers. You need to make this more personal to that age group. For example, talk about the business value your services provided your previous your potential new employer that you understand the strategic synergy between technology and business, that you understand exactly how you contributed to that, and how you'd do so in the new environment.

2. Trick question, as you point out. Good advice on how to respond.

3. The moment this question is asked, run for the exit. This is not a company you want to work for. I'm not entirely certain you're correct that it's not illegal, but even if it isn't you are correct about one's monumentally stupid.

4. Another trick question, and the one that interviewers use to weed people out. Depending on how you answer you can come across as desperate or under-confident, neither of which are qualities any company values. You didn't point out that younger hiring managers are also intimidated at the thought they might be hiring their own replacement, you might want their job before they're ready to give it up, or you might fight them for control.

5. Good interview question, and good advice on how to respond.

6. Not relevant to older workers but to anyone who has a recent gap on their resume. It's also not relevant to most IT workers, who typically don't take a long term career hiatus only to return to the fold when old and decrepit. I'd leave this one out.

7. Another monumentally stupid question, another one that's a clear signal it's time to say "Check, please", and another one that I'm reasonably certain is illegal.

8. Not a stupid question but certainly one that sends up a red flag about the organization. Why DON'T they have more older workers? What's wrong with this culture? The question isn't would this bother you, the question is why would you want to work there? You're being told in advance your age and experience are a detriment. Bye bye.

9. Yet another question everyone has to answer regardless of age. Avoid answering at all costs, not only for the reasons you give but also in the event you get an offer you've given away your entire negotiating position.

Here's a couple I'd add:

- Why have you not pursued opportunities to move further up the career ladder? Older workers face this one all the time, especially from the ambitious and suspicious young pups who can't imagine that EVERYONE doesn't want to be Chairman of the Board. The proper response is to say you love what you do, you're extremely good at it, you feel you can provide the highest value to the organization by doing the kind of work for which you're best suited, and be prepared to show specific examples to prove your point.

- What are your retirement plans? One of the trickiest of the trick questions because it throws you off guard. Proper answer...I don't have any. Then shut up.

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a quick note

by advancedgeek In reply to DOWNLOAD: Interview strat ...

Young people get age discrimination too.

I got my first IT job when I was 18. I had already been working on hardware/software for 5 years (work for free). I came into this job and knew more than anyone else I worked with. I worked there for two years and never got a raise, and never moved up the chain...

Was I not a hard worker? I was the best configuration tech they'd ever had, and they openly admitted it. When it came time for bonuses or raises I was skipped over for people that knew FAR less than me (I showed this guy his first hdd) and he was hired 6 months AFTER me. I came to work on time every day...I was the model employee. He was often late, and complained about working. - But it wasn't just him, there was lots of other employees that got raises, while I was passed over.

I think that b/c of my age I was passed over for better positions/better pay. I even took it to the boss, and he said i was "too young" to get a raise. Oh if I knew then what I know now.

I am now 23, and I still get discriminated on. I am an important person at my job, I have meetings that wait on me, and I have 5 people that work for me, and when they meet me for the first time they always say "How old are you?!" MY GOD it gets old.

I am more professional than you, I know infinately more than you, I deserve respect-despite my age.

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Another perspective

by amcol In reply to a quick note

First, and most one DESERVES respect. You EARN it. Every day, day after day. And make no mistake, it's a lot easier to earn DISrespect than it is to earn respect.

We've all been where you are, which is to say young and just starting out. What you've identified as reverse age discrimination is more likely a reaction to attitude, as in a bad one.

I'm sure you're as good at your job as you say you are. Not the issue. Your attitude comes through your writing loud and clear. And if I have no trouble noticing it, what makes you think you're coming across any differently to the people you work with and for on a regular basis? Not the best way to distinguish yourself.

It's very easy to blame that over which we have no control. Someone at age 55+ doesn't get hired and screams age discrimination. The reality is that for any number of reasons they weren't qualified for the position, but facing that reality and doing something about it isn't as easy and certainly not as much fun as saying the 30 year old hiring manager must've had it in for anyone his or her father's age.

You've got plenty of time to play the age card. Don't start've got other issues you need to deal with.

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by advancedgeek In reply to Another perspective

I have a great attitude! Might be a little angry at the fact I just found out I owe $8000.00 in taxes (ouch)...but I am a happy go lucky employee that everyone always loves. That, perhaps, is my problem...I get too close to the people I work for, and they must think they can walk on me.

As for the respect...I do earn it. I say deserve, because I earn it, but do not always receive it. I am a seasoned system administrator with 5 years of experience...i'm not just starting out. I have been through two different wars (Iraq, and Afghanistan), and a nuclear bomb plant doing what I do, and I have worked my way up from the bottom stacking boxes.

What gets me is people that judge a book by it's cover. Yes I am young, but I have been there, and done that. A good example is a commander here at the place I work and I were talking about my experiences and he says "Oh, I thought you were just some punk kid out of college."'s that kind of disrespect that I recieve, and it looks like you, amcol, are guilty of it as well.

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Let's stop this here

by amcol In reply to reply

Because what you and I are talking about is not what this thread is about.

You're pretty thin skinned. In no way did I disrespect you, which confirms for me that the reason you're missing out on promotions and rewards has nothing to do with your age. The callouses that come with maturity will do you some good.

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People deserve respect by default.

by stress junkie In reply to Another perspective

You have to earn your reputation, but people deserve to be treated with respect by default.

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Hair splitting

by amcol In reply to People deserve respect by ...

There's all different kinds of respect and all different ways one can be respected, but I was obviously talking about professional respect. This thread is about workplace issues, not social or political or anything else. Let's stay in focus.

All human beings should be respected as human beings. You earn that simply by being born. You want to call that deserving respect, fine by me.

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by advancedgeek In reply to People deserve respect by ...

Great point S J...I agree 100%. I show other people respect no matter the age, and should recieve it back.

/me initiates slow clap

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not Fair but Degree time

by bmanf77brc In reply to a quick note

I have found after 12 yrs in management that the
person with a degree has established athority in their field no matter what age. Having a degree in management will open doors for you. Dont wait until its too late.


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Some good ideas

by stress junkie In reply to DOWNLOAD: Interview strat ...

Each of the points in the article presents a valid issue that one is likely to encounter in an interview and some hints about how to respond. I'd say that the article is generally useful. One thing that I would like to have seen done differently was in item 8. Here the article says to know your rights under the ADEA. It would have been nice to have spelled out the words instead of using an acronym, and it would have been even better to include a reference as to where we would find this information. As it stands it represents a research project which I think should be unnecessary, and which would be unnecessary if you had provided the information or a pointer to the information.

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