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Planning Retirement Online

Job Interviews       June 2008   

A new book, Job Interviews: top answers to tough questions (McGraw Hill Business, £9.99, 2008) has comprehensive material on age discrimination and how candidates should answer difficult questions on age. Here, the book’s best-selling author, John Lees suggests answers for two common age-related questions – and explains why you don’t have to answer two more.

1. Why aren’t you earning more at your age?

It’s a terrible question. Do not succumb. Do not challenge the premises.

JL’s suggestion:
‘When I was just out of university I considered other factors besides pay as being more important. I should have paid more attention to my career in my early years. That is exactly why we are having this meeting.’

2. There appears to be a gap on your CV. What were you doing during this time?
You should be prepared to respond to this question if you take time before interview to consider your activities both on and off the job. Make your answer crisp, brief, focused on the point and not defensive. That kind of answer portrays you as a person who does what you have to do.

JL’s suggestion:
‘Constant care of a family member required someone’s attention and the choice was between my spouse and myself. Because she had just started a new career, I decided to volunteer for the assignment.’

3.You haven’t worked In years. What makes you think you are up to the challenges of the position and our organisation?
This question is potentially discriminatory because it will probably be asked more of women returners than other job seekers.

JL’s suggestion:
While I have not been in paid employment for several years, I have had to perform a variety of activities and play a number of roles. Let me give you an example of the skills that I have developed that I am certain will be most useful to you here. For example, I supervised the automation of the XYZ Charity that brought the organisation into the information age and did it while expanding fund-raising efforts.’

4.Don’t you think you’re a little old for this job?
It’s not illegal for an employer to ask your age or your date of birth. However its poor practice to make selection decisions on the basis of age. You can’t keep your age a secret in the recruitment process. The best plan is to simply include your date of birth on the last page of your CV and don’t make anything further of it. If the issue comes up in interview, play to your strengths.

JL’s suggestion:
‘I think I have maturity and experience that younger applicants are missing. Besides they’ll be off in 2 years whereas I’m looking for a long-term position.




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