- On August 10, 2019
Most companies want to hire attorneys in the five to ten year range because that’s the most common entry level position. But what to do if you are beyond that range and encounter ageism? I like this recent Harvard Business Review article on how to respond to this bias in an interview. My top takeaways:
- Dress appropriately. This is the easiest one. It’s well documented that people form their impression in the first few seconds, so look like a great employee! Don’t wear a formal suit (unless it’s required by the employer) or unhip clothes. At a minimum, wear current accessories or glasses.
- Connect with your interviewer. Start with a smile. Rebut the presumption you are low energy and unengaged; instead, talk about how you are excited about the job and industry, and not how many years you have worked. Use current references (e.g., Netflix shows or recent movies). Don’t joke about dial-up modems or how things were before the interviewer’s time.
- Show you are curious and enjoy learning. Ask open-ended questions. Actively listen to understand the organization and challenges. By treating the interview more like a consulting project, you can display helpfulness and project confidence without getting into a weird power dynamic.
- Be down-to-earth and egalitarian. Talk about “supporting” teams versus “running” them. Give examples about working with diverse groups, e.g., projects with cross-functional teams across different geographies and managers.
- Learn from these sample responses to inappropriate comments. One hiring manager told an interviewee that he wanted “younger minds.”(!) The article suggests responding with: “I think what you are really looking for is innovative thinking. I’d love to share some of my ideas that could help this organization amplify its impact and be a model for others in the field.” In another case, an interviewee is asked how she’d feel about late-night parties and drinking, and she admirably said, “I love to celebrate success with my team.”