For a hiring manager, interviews can often be stressful occasions. But interviewing an older job applicant can add additional psychological complications into the mix.
Interviewing someone older than you, and who may actually end up being your boss or running your department, is often awkward and intimidating. After all, how do you gain respect from someone who might be looking at you as an inexperienced kid? Or already thinking about how you won’t fit in if they’re hired?
Fact is, this situation is likely just as awkward for the candidate – no matter how experienced they may be. How would you feel if someone 20 years younger than you was asking pointed questions about your strengths, why the company should hire you, or how you found a solution to a business problem?
The best way to create a successful interview with someone older than you is to picture yourself on the other side of the desk or video screen. Imagine how you’d like to be treated if the tables were turned. And remember that the right experience counts for more than chronological age. The interview will go more smoothly if you’re able to empathize with the candidate on some level.
Here are a few tips to help get you through the process:
1. Put Age Aside
The last thing you want to do if you’re trying to gain the candidate’s respect is to make jokes about the age difference between you. You’re much better off acting as though you don’t even notice. If the interviewee happens to bring it up, make sure you politely inform him that age is not a factor in this interaction.
2. Find Common Ground
Just because you and the candidate are from different generations doesn’t mean you have nothing in common. Maybe you went to the same college. Or you both root for the same sports team. You might even share a liking for a particular movie. Finding common ground can put you both at ease and help the interview proceed in a relaxed fashion.
3. Know your Stuff
Be sure you’ve done your homework and have a good grasp of the jobseeker’s background. It’s best to take some time before you meet to go over their resume and LinkedIn page. Knowing the candidate’s background is a sign of respect. It’s also important to be able to explain the job opening as well as communicate the corporate story. An experienced professional will be turned off if it appears you don’t know what you’re talking about.
4. Be Professional
Sometimes people try to mask their insecurities by going to extremes. If you’re afraid of coming off as too immature, don’t try to overcompensate by being excessively reserved. Or sounding like a know-it-all. Simply be yourself – if your company didn’t trust you to be professional, you wouldn’t be interviewing the candidate.
A Final Word
When it comes to interviewing candidates who are older and more experienced than you are, there’s no need to feel intimidated if you follow the advice above. Experienced professionals have a lot to offer – and chances are, you’ll be on the other side of that desk or video screen someday. The more common ground you can find, the more likely the age gap will become irrelevant.
Lanmark Staffing has over 40 years of combined experience in human resources, recruiting, temporary placement, sales and management, and temp-to-hire services. Contact us today – our team of local and experienced professionals can help you meet your hiring needs quickly and effectively.