Avoid Initiating the Age Issue at Job Interviews


A couple of weeks ago I received this question from a reader who is transitioning to a new career as a ‘mature’ jobseeker about job interviews.

“…my question for you is how do I answer the subtle and no so subtle questions of age from prospective employers? I’ve already got one the remark’ aren’t you a little mature for the position.”

Before I share my answer, I recommend that if you are a mature job seeker, that you never ever initiate the age talk during  job interviews. It will come across as your issue or hang up, not theirs. Secondly, don’t assume that age is their issue with you. Even a clever way to bring age into the conversation may not diffuse uneasiness if the employer has an issue. Or uneasiness that you bought it up.

Here is my response to the reader. Again, this is an edited version of my response:

In regards to age, if you have opened the door on the age discussion during job interviews, then it would be a problem. If any part of your CV or resume indicates more than 15 years, the question will come up. Job seekers often feel that everything he or she has ever done has to go on the resume. The last 10 years with the most relevance should go on your resume.

The other place that could show your age is education. If you have the year you graduated from high school on your resume, I recommend removing it, in fact, since you have a college degree, your high school diploma is no longer relevant.

Now, regarding the age inquiry, employers look for ways to exclude candidates in subtle ways. My take on it comes from a client a couple of years ago who had gray hair, over fifty, yet had a robust personality. Her energy was so infectious interviewers dared not ask about age. My point is to consider how you come across. You should have a passion for your new degree, and you need to let that show at every opportunity.

Also, consider changing your energy level when you speak to employers over the phone, during interviews, and especially networking events and similar opportunities. It makes you appear younger without blackening the gray from your hair. Sound energetic, but not on steroids!

Let me ask you, do you get comments from your spouse, family, friends, or mentors that you come across “old?”

I too am mature, and at home, my wife comments that I still listen to “old music.” Yet when people meet me at professional events, workshops, meetings and the like, I talk about my profession with infectious zeal and fervor.

Many of my readers are young people and are the most interactive in-person. Energy makes all of the difference in the world, and your presence should exude what employers want in an employee.

Is there advice that you would like to add? Please share below.

About Mark Anthony Dyson

I am the "The Voice of Job Seekers," career consultant, job seeker advocate, career writer, and founder of this award-winning blog. I help the employed, unemployed, underemployed, and under-appreciated find jobs using job search strategies to navigate the new job market. I aim to give a safe place online to those with different needs, cultures, and ethnicities to find their voice in the job market. Thousands have read my career advice throughout the web as I write about everything from job search strategies to the mobile job search. I have published more than 400 articles on this blog and some of the largest career sites such as Recruiter.com, YouTern, and Come Recommended. I've been quoted in major publications such as on Monster, AOL Jobs, Fortune, Business Insider and Levo League. Both FlexJobs and JobMonkey listed my podcast as one of the top eight podcasts to help your job search. Love for you to sign up for the weekly newsletter. I share the latest articles I've written, new podcast episodes, and answer any questions you may have. The new job search is scary and if you need help, I am here for it!

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