Six Interview Questions That Terrorize Older Workers – Part 2 of 2

You aren’t ready to retire right now…maybe in a decade or so. But the employer with whom you are interviewing seems concerned that you are past your prime, given the difficult questions just posed to you. .

Part 2 of 2 – read part 1 here


Unspoken Age Bias?

Bias exists in almost every interaction between people. Bias comes from one’s life experiences, how he or she sees the world, and how he or she interprets the situation in front of him/her. Bias is one element of an individual’s frame of reference.

Bias becomes a negative – and unlawful – when it is used to exclude protected classes of individuals (such as workers over forty years of age) from fair consideration for employment. With people living longer and more healthy lives, and the age for retirement continuing to be pushed further out, mature workers may have some of the best years of their careers to offer prospective employers.

Since each hiring decision represents a significant investment by an employer, employers must question each candidate’s ability to perform all the work envisioned in a specific job opening.

As we explore three additional questions that terrorize older workers, here’s how mature workers can best position themselves for job openings, and overcome any concerns about age, energy level, or ability to keep up with technology and best practices.


Terror Question #4: Have you kept up with current technology and its application?

  • How the question might be phrased: “This job requires someone with strong, current technology skills. How do you think you’d do keeping up with recent technology grads?”

  • Why they are asking this question: They think that you may be too old and may have reached the point where you rely on the technology of 20 years ago to perform your job.

  • Your strategy for answering this question: Demonstrate current technological skills, a strong ability to learn, and how you applied technology to produce results. “I’m glad you asked, since it gives me an opportunity to talk about what I’ve accomplished with advanced technology in the past few years.” {Provide 2 examples, citing the technology, how you learned it, and the problems it helped you to solve for the employer’s benefit}.


Terror Question #5: How much energy and motivation do you have left at this stage of your career?

  • How the question might be phrased: “Our experience is that the job can be overwhelming for some people. Our successful people possess a very high energy level. How do I know that you possess the motivation and energy required to excel in this role?”

  • Why they are asking this question: They believe that someone of your age may be slowing down and may not have the stamina to keep up, much less excel and lead the pack.

  • Your strategy for answering this question: Show that your energy level and motivation are still high, plus your experience gives you wisdom to be even more productive than less experienced workers. “I’d love for you to talk to my last boss. He’ll tell you that I outworked everyone on staff, and because I’ve developed my skills over several decades, my knowledge and wisdom let me consistently out-produce co-workers who are decades younger than I am.”


Terror Question #6: Have you already retired, but just want a paycheck to supplement your income?

  • How the question might be phrased: “I see that you left your last position with XYZ about a year ago after a long career there. You haven’t worked since. Why should we consider you for this position, given the past year?”

  • Why they are asking this question: They think that you might have stopped working because you wanted to retire, maybe ran out of money, and now just want a job, any job. There may also be a concern that you will want too much money and too much time off, and perhaps even a concern that you cannot keep up.

  • Your strategy for answering this question: Explain what you were doing career-wise during your off year, how you kept current, and why you aren’t ready to retire. “When I left XYZ I thought I was ready to retire, but was bored. I took three courses to keep my skills current and consulted to keep active. I found I needed the challenge, and I believe your organization will allow me to make the contributions I still want to make over the next decade.”

Depth and Quality of Answers Count

As someone who has interviewed more than 15,000 people in my career, I can tell you that there are two kinds of great answers an interviewer’s question: the one-liners that were memorable but lacked depth and substance when questioned further, and the just-as-strong answers to the follow-up questions based on a candidate’s initial response. This is why mature job seekers must plan to have both depth and quality to their answers.


Bottom Line

Companies invest far too much in hiring an individual to hire someone who has mentally or physically checked out. Understand the reasons behind why an interviewer is asking you a difficult question and have a suitable strategy to elevate your candidacy with a great answer.

This article is taken from my new book, Get a Better Job Faster™, now available on in two editions, one for college students and recent grads, and one for experienced professionals and skilled workers. Each all-new edition explains more than 3,000 job search and career launch best practices.

I help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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