Age discrimination is a reality that can show up during the executive interview process. Through the Internet, this information is visible—a LinkedIn profile picture can reveal your age; a Google search can uncover your age; and filling out a job application can give away your age by the length of your career and date of a college degree.

While the interviewer may be the one asking the questions, you will need to change your approach. Avoid giving the interviewer something to discriminate against. Here are a few examples:

1. Change perception

Hiring managers will sometimes stereotype executives of a certain age, and your response to age discrimination questioning, if defensive, may validate the hiring manager’s concerns. However, you can turn the conversation away from age by focusing on your expertise in the field, and how that makes you a good match for the job.

2. Highlight unique value

During the executive interview, search consultants and hiring managers are trying to get to the root of how you achieved your successes. After all, they are looking to hire someone because they have a business issue or problem in their organization that they need fixed, so they want to fill it with an executive who can show that they have successfully solved similar situations. Revealing your unique skills and accomplishments helps the interviewer see you as a viable candidate.

3. Show passion and energy

Older executives can sometimes be typecast as too slow, too set in their ways, and a greater health risk. Dissuade that thinking by exuding confidence, vitality and enthusiasm during an executive interview. As a leader, you want to show a prospective employer that you are a great motivator to a team, and it starts with you. Self-motivation is a key tool that executives can tap into during the interview process and often contributes to getting the job offer.

4. Stay positive

Don’t make excuses or give in to the age discrimination mentality. You may need to rethink how you will apply your skills and talents to new opportunities. You may also need to step outside of your comfort zone to look at different ways to be employed, for example: interim executive, part-time executive, or a board directorship. Interviewers highly respect executives who demonstrate creative thinking and are flexible. The key to overcoming ageism is to continue to stay engaged with an optimistic outlook.

Don’t let ageism in the interviewing process roadblock your path to career success. As an executive, you have value; and with the right approach, you can overcome any obstacle in your way including age discrimination. But, the onus is on you to present a compelling argument to a hiring manager about your years of wisdom and experience that position you as the perfect candidate for the job.  Be prepared and develop your interview style with the right elements and approach that will make age discrimination a non-factor during an interview.


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