Now that we’ve addressed appearance, let’s move on to the more beefy and incredibly entertaining part of the older job seeker’s journey.
Wouldn’t we all love to say this?
You are led into a conference room. Usually someone from HR or Talent will escort you to this treasure cove of fun. That’s because the HR Princess wants to take a good look at you. She wants to give you the once-over to see what brands of clothing you are wearing. J. Crew, my personal fave, scores high. My shoes score high. It goes well until HR Princess gets to my face. She can tell that I’m….old. I can see a little glimpse into her phony windows of the world.
While I’m thinking I look like THIS….HR Princess thinks I look…
Those eyes are saying “Ugh—when will old bitches like her just give it up and take an overdose of happy pills?”
…like THIS. HR Princess is also petrified that I’ll try to mother her since I’m so old!!! I’m Bette and HR princess is Sarah Jessica–look how scared she looks!
While her brightly smiling mouth is sing-songing “Ohhhhhhhhh..those Tory Burch shoes are so cute. So cute!!!” And she bobs her head to the side and her voice takes on a Kardashianesque nasal tone when she says “So cute!!!”
You will be seated and asked if you want coffee or water. I always say no thank you. This is because my bladder isn’t as strong as it was before I had children. But—I don’t want this viper to know that. It’s bad enough I’m old. OK?
A team will march into the conference room to judge, assess, find anything wrong with you, interview you. Or perhaps it’ll just be one or two people. You need to be very gracious because these are incredibly self-important people.
And surprisingly, some of the team will be older–and they should be ashamed of themselves for giving another older person the dismissal and no word of not being hired!
If they saw you on the street they wouldn’t give you the time of day. In fact, some of them may spit on you. So be charming, engaging and show them that you are the one worth hiring. Even if they think that you are as old as a Woolly Mammoth you still need to bring your best you! *wink*.
OK. Interview Question! Who’s the REAL Woolly Mammoth in this picture? Correct–it’s the old man on the left!!!
I believe they all attended the “Diane-Sawyer-I’m-So-Much-Better-Than-You” School of Interviewing.
Just look at that face. It’s the face of HR during the interview and you realize you have no chance in hell of being hired!
And yes, some of the more idiotic questions you will be asked is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Try not to answer “Alive.”
No. Now is not the time to impress with the obvious!
Don’t tell them you are a people person either. We are past that stage in life where we need to please. We older people just want to do the job!
Um. No. We were professional people people when we were younger. Now we just want to do the job.
And it is daunting. Believe me. I know this. For almost two years I had to be charming and engaging and smile while suffering from hemorrhoid pain. I had to think quickly when I had throbbing headaches. I had to put my “A” game on and had to remember every detail that I told the telephone interviewer so I would not look like a liar at the face-to-face.
I’ve had interviewers look me in the eyes and tell me how great I am, only to never EVER hear from them again.
I did the right thing by going home and writing incredibly well-executed thank you notes—making sure that no two people received the same words from me.
And the worst part is that some of these people never bothered to give me the respect that I so deserved for interviewing. These same “professionals” never bothered to let me know that I was not hired. I had no closure. At all. These are the executives who lack common courtesy. And in hindsight, I’m happy that I wasn’t chosen.
And I share some of these real life interviews with you:
Johnson Matthey: I went there on an interview for an executive assistant position. What started out to be a relatively normal interview ended up to be truly bizarre. I was being interviewed for two administrative assistant positions but would be working for one of two men.
The first man to interview me seemed pretty cut and dry. He traveled a lot and needed a ton of scheduling and travel arrangements. No big deal, but there didn’t seem to be any chemistry there. And that was perfectly fine.
The second guy who interviewed me was a real piece of work. He seemed sooooooo sincere. When he asked me why I left my last two positions, I explained they were due to corporate closures. He looked me straight in the eyes and said “I know how it is. I’ve been there”. “I mean this when I tell you, I will get back to you in record time” “If you don’t hear from me in a week, please shoot me an email”. Oh, and this slimy, self-important narcissist also said “This is between you and me—of the two of us who interviewed you, who would you rather work for?” Seriously, what kind of crap is this?
I walked out of that interview with a strange feeling that THIS was the man who interviewed me. It was creepy! And he lied!
Not only did it nearly kill me to have to send this bozo a thank you note, but I had to “shoot” him an email asking him about follow up. To this day I never heard back from Mr. Sincere. Thank you Johnson Matthey.
Queen Appliance: This is a local appliance company. I had an interview and it went very well. The people were engaging, friendly and seemed genuinely nice. They told me how great I was and also told me that I would hear from them in a matter of days.
I never heard a word from them. They didn’t even email me to see if I needed any appliances! Who knows what they were looking for, but I do know that if I do need an appliance, I won’t be visiting the queen!
The X Financial Company. I had such a traumatic interview that I cannot even remember the name of this horrific place. An agency sent me. The company is in a great location in Berwyn, PA. And is relatively new. The second I walked through the door, I wanted to work there because everything was so spanking new.
“Rebecca” was the woman who I met with. She was rather full of herself and I don’t think it was from the extra body weight she was carrying either. She seemed to be a legend in her own mind. She went on and on and on and on about how important she was and how she did this and did that and how she drove two hours to work every day and blah, blah, blah.
And when it was my turn to speak, she clicked on her computer, and ignored me. While I spoke. At one point she lifted her head and said. “Oh. I’m sorry but my boss wants something”.
The Rebecca who interviewed was definitely NOT from Sunnybrook Farm. She was more like the bottom-of-the-ocean crawler, Ursula. What a monster!
I saw just how important she really was.
When I left that place, I called the agency and went ballistic. Not only did I not hear from Rebecca, but I never heard from the agency again either!
Cross-eyed as I might be, I literally RAN away from Rebecca and her computer. I suffered PTSD for a while after that interview!
Mainline Rehabilitation: Although I never wanted to work in healthcare again, I ended up being interviewed for an admin position. Again, I did my research and was actually excited about this. My excitement was because the Rehab center hosts an Art Ability program in which people who are now special needs exhibit their works of art, which are, pretty amazing.
During the interview, I was told many times “we care so much about people”. Actually, they were really focused on the caring. I guess it was because insurance companies were giving them lots and lots of money. They certainly didn’t care about the people who were being interviewed because, once again, I didn’t hear a word. Not an email. Not a phone call. Nothing.
I should have gone on that interview with a cast on my leg. I would have received more love and respect!
And that’s really the worst part. I’m fine knowing I didn’t get hired—but let me know so that I’m not getting to that delusional point where I am still hoping. That’s what you can expect. I swear it’s because older people are just dismissed. I’m sure the hiring powers that be wonder why an older person would want to work when they should be ready for retirement.
The average 55, 60, 65 + can’t retire anymore. That last economic bust nearly destroyed many of us and our families. But we don’t give up! And that is the absolute beauty of the older generation. We have a drive and a will.
But I’ll be honest. I almost did give up. Bonaparte encouraged me to not give up. And when he saw an ad for an administrative assistant in a small financial company, he suggested I apply.
I did. And I received an email of interest. Then I had a phone call. Then I had an interview. And I almost got cold feet the morning of the interview because I figured it was just another job that would go to someone else.
I showed up and was interviewed by a young woman around Oona’s age. She was not like the others. She was wise and grounded. The interview went fine.
Two days later I was offered the job. I was thrilled!
At almost one month into my new job, I can tell you off the bat that I’m enjoying it.
This is me getting off the elevator each day upon arriving for work. I’m really happy! And I’m wearing a skirt too!
I’m back in the financial genre, which I love because I understand many of the nuances. The company is small. The workers are very diligent and from what I’ve observed, all have an incredible work ethic. They genuinely like and respect each other. It has been a long, long time since I’ve worked with people who ask “Do you need anything?” when they are going out to get lunch or anywhere else.
The environment where I am now is focused on work but pleasant. I actually enjoy going into the office every day.
The people there really work well as a team. Really well. It is the kind of company I feel comfortable in. The President runs a tight ship but there’s a lot of trust. I dunno. I just want to stay. And I take nothing in this life for granted nor do I have any expectations—especially due to the journey it took me to get here.
So don’t give up. It will take a long time. And you’ll have great interviews and lousy interviews. You will go home thinking you got the job and you will NEVER hear a word. That’s the reality.
And then, just when you are ready to give up–you’ll be hired! It’ll be that interview that you walk out of not feeling on cloud nine, but feeling as though you’ve done a good job. It’s hard to describe. Trust me on this one.
Persevere. But do it with a sense of humor!!
Here’s a good pump up song for your drive to the interview. Bachman Turner Overdrive “Takin’ Care of Business”!!