There is no question that job opportunities for recent life sciences undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are becoming increasingly difficult to find. While this is troubling, older, mid-career bioprofessionals who may be looking for new jobs and challenges are having a rougher go of it. This is because older employees generally cost more to hire and many employers mistakenly believe that seasoned employees make lack the drive and technological skills as compared with younger, less experienced jobseekers.
Whether or not these assumptions are true, the interview questions that older job candidates may be asked are likely to be different than those offered up to younger prospective employees. To that end, there was an informative “how to” blog post written by Shelbi Walker of Back to Work, Inc that offers older professionals some responses that older job candidate can use to answer challenging questions that they may encounter during a face-to-face job interview.
I listed some sample questions and acceptable possible responses to them below:
1. You appear to be overqualified for this position. Won’t you get bored?
“You are an excellent company. You deserve excellence in employees."
“Experience is a great premium today.”
“There is a greater return on your money if I hit the ground running. Less training time.”
“I always like for additional work to do to prevent from getting bored.”
2. This company is on the fast track. Do you think that you can keep up?
“I have stayed on top of the latest development in our industry and am computer literate." (Use this opportunity to showcase any training classes or courses you have taken.)
Also, consider hitting this question head-on by stating politely that you have not noticed any slowdown in attitude or energy.
3. This isn’t exactly the type of job you have done in the past. Can you tell us how you will transfer your skills?
"I have viewed your website and read everything about your company.” (Then, draw some analogy to a previous area of expertise, and relate it to the new company’s product or service).
4. I noticed that you have been out of work for over six months. Can you explain this break in employment?
"I explored some other options but they weren’t for me. I feel that I have many more years of productivity left to work in this industry."
“I am looking for something different. I am fortunate to be in a position to take time to make sure this job is right for both of us. "
"I used this time to brush up (or learn) a new skill, and now I am ready to contribute my knowledge and expertise to an exciting company like yours."
5. Why do you think you are qualified for this job? I don’t see where you have experience that would match our business needs
"My excitement at learning new things never diminishes. With my work experience, I know I will be a quick learner." Take this opportunity to point out any skills you have added to your repertoire. Identify a skill you have, and align it to something you would need to do on the new job.
6. Your resume indicates you have worked at a lot of different places. Can you comment on that?
“Each of those positions broadened my knowledge and skill base."
“It does appear that way, but, in the last 10 years, the economy has been such that mergers have forced a number of us to realize our potential in various environments." (Always turn a perceived negative into a real positive!)
7. You were with your last company for 19 years. Can you change the way you did things?
"I am looking for change!"
"My last company underwent many changes during that time, and I enjoyed trying new things and ideas." (Give examples whenever possible.)
8. I see you have been a consultant. Does that just mean you were out of work?
" My old company brought me back on contract to complete several projects, which I did — and now I want to see if there is something more exciting out there. "
“ I understand lots of people are calling themselves consultants while they look for a new position. " (Laugh — sometimes, it’s OK to insert a little bit of levity.)
9. What salary are you looking for (the implication that is may be too high because you have been in the workforce so long)
Never respond with a specific dollar amount. Affirm that you have vast skills and experience. Indicate that you are either willing to start over to show them what you bring to the table or deserving of top dollar.
Alternatively, ask the interviewer what dollar amount is allocated for the position in this year’s budget. And, finally ask the interviewer whether or not they are offering you the job since you are discussing salary requirements!
While I can’t guarantee that you will be asked any or all of these questions at your next job interview, they are food for thought!
Until next time…
Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!