How to Respond to Age-Exposing Interview Questions

Martin writes:
Career experts advise that older applicants remove educational dates from
resumes that would enable the reader to determine the applicant’s age.
What do you recommend when the response to your resume is to ask
specific questions such as “what is your year of graduation?” (from university).
From this information it is usually easy to estimate a person’s age to within
a year or two. This seems to have deferred the problem not solved it. I hope
you can advise on this.

The Career Doctor responds:
Before I get to your question let me add that besides taking dates off your degrees
you should consider removing dates from any work experience older than 15 years ago (unless there
is some key relevancy and with experience from that long ago it is unlikely). Some
experts even suggest leaving dates off your work experience though I believe you
should keep the dates as long as you drop all the older stuff.
But to the heart of the matter… The good news is that if you made it to the interview;
the employer definitely saw something appealing in you. But the bad news is that I agree
with you that the question sure seems like a blatant attempt to get at your age. It
may simply be curiosity but it may be much more. You could respond with something
along the lines of I’m not sure of the relevancy of my college graduation date; can you
explain? Or you could be even more direct: “I’m sensing you may have an issue with
my age. If so let me assure you that I am the candidate most qualified for this position
because _________.” (Fill in the blank with keywords and qualifications.)
Of course you could also be more direct even threaten to report and/or report the
employer. These are personal decisions only you can make.
As the Baby Boom generation continues to age these kinds of issues and questions
will continue to arise. Most of the interviewers will be folks much younger than you and
some may be intimidated while others may be suspicious of your motives. Some say as
more and more boomers continue working later in life these age issues will decline.
Read more strategies for older workers in this section of Quintessential Careers:
Job and Career
Resources for Mature and Older Job-Seekers — Including the Baby Boomers


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