Age Discrimination

Age Discrimination In Interviews


Recently, I was asked the following question:


How do I deal with age discrimination in interviews?

My Answer

Stop giving them something to discriminate against.

In the video below, I hit head-on why age discrimination (against the young and the old) exist. More importantly, I tell you flat out why it’s up to YOU (not the employer) to change.

You see, hiring is discrimination. Companies have to screen someone “in” and the rest of the candidates “out” — and in today’s competitive job market, that’s like picking the perfect apple to eat from a supermarket display… not easy.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

The best way to cope with age discrimination is to change your behavior to ensure you don’t meet the stereotypes the hiring managers are wrongly assuming about you in the interview.

You need to prove to them that what they think is wrong. And in doing so, you can show them why you are the right candidate for the job.

Practice, Practice, Practice (A.K.A Learn New Tricks!)

If you want to beat age discrimination in an interview, you definitely can’t “wing it” as so many people do. Instead, you need to prepare and go in ready to position yourself properly.

Those that don’t do proper interview prep as a way to convey their skills to hiring managers don’t prove they are worthy to join the employer’s tribe – and that costs you the job!

While I hate that age discrimination exists, I also know that we can’t sit back and let it beat us. We have to work to beat it!

Your Turn

How have you effectively beat age discrimination?

What tips can you share to cope in interviews?

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Look, prospective employers will always say that you were not a good fit for the company. EEOC will never back you knowing full well that the company deeming you as not a good fit ends the discussion right then and there. Please no more pie in the sky. When you’re over 50 it’s best to find something you can do and start your own business. It’s not just the best way, it’s the only way.

  2. Yes J.T. as you point out the hiring process by it’s nature is discrimination but it is the discrimination of whole classes of people based on qualities which they either cannot change or should not be expected to change which society and often the law object to. In other words no one would object if an employer required someone with 5 years experience in their field or a certain IT certification or degree, but objections would be raised if an employer were to restrict new hires to persons under 35.

    My personal experience within the US has been that asking about age or gender by employers is not allowed, yet they ask about race. Outside the US my experience is just the opposite; employers usually ask your date of birth and gender but asking about race is not allowed. I must admit that I always get a chuckle when an employer uses the words “young and eager” together with “mature and experienced.” For this combination an employer must keep an open mind if is to succeed at finding both qualities in one candidate.

    Discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation should be tolerated. Not only would I not be happy working for a company which employes such practices, I would likely not want to shop from them either. Otherwise J.T. great points in your video.

  3. This article put the responsibility for others actions on the victim. I have to wonder how that would play with regards to sex or racial discrimination? Not the same I bet. What I find interesting is the disparity between the attitudes of people with regard to age and the reality of the situation. People are living longer than ever, often into the 80s and even 90s. The idea of being over the hill at 45-50 is archaic. People surely can work and contribute a lot longer than what used to be accustomed, which was retire at 55-62, when people lived to 68-70. There’s no reason people can continue to contribute into their 70s and I don’t mean being a greeter at Walmart, but society hasn’t caught up with reality yet.

  4. I think the age the discrimination is well and alive. I kind of fall into a different category where I am older but look quite young, so the interviewer often thinks that I do not experience and may possibly fall prey to young people’s stereotypes. Despite having my CV present, trying to dress really mature and reiterating my years of experience, what else can I do?

  5. I concur with the tips everyone has given here, although I think talking in speech patterns used by a younger generation will just come off as desperate and silly. One thing I’ve also done is target companies with a healthy amount of people who are 40+, even 50+. Many places in my industry are youth-centric (with only a few C-suite folks being over 40) and quite frankly, those are not where I want to work and aren’t likely to hire me anyway. Stay away from those places, you’re just wasting your time unless you’re a C-suiter who would be a fit.

    • Caroline,

      How do you find or where do you look for companies that have a good number of people over the age of 50 working for them?


  6. I am a seasoned sales professional who was laid off in a massive company reorganization. I have had my resume rewritten by a professional; I have whitened my teeth, I have a more contemporary hair cut, and I am getting interviews. I try to remember not to use phrases that sound outdated and to emphasize my social networking and technology skills. It will take longer, I’m sure for me to find that employer who recognizes the contributions that I can make to their organization. I just refuse to give up. I power walk 4 times a week; I am starting a food blog (new skill to add to my resume). As a sales professional, I know that this is simply a matter of applying for enough jobs and networking with enough people.

    • I have to ask!!! Why do you think adding a “food blog” to your resume would impress anyone?? I may not have the most up-to-date resume but I do know that food blogs most likely have NOTHING to do with how you perform your job. I have been in the medical field for 29 years and was also laid off in a “reorganization” after working for this company a total of 20 years. Sounds great that you power walk but really??? the food blog needs to stay OFF the resume. Just my opinion!

    • I’m a bit late to this conversation. However, I wanted to commend you for taking the steps that you have. I’m seasoned as well. Working on your appearance and exercising makes you feel better and it gives you confidence. And starting a blog is a great idea! In today’s world companies want to see examples of your work, your writing, your participation. Everyone needs a portfolio. I hope that you’ve had success since writing this post.

  7. As JT says you have to change the perception of who you are. I am in the seasoned group and what I have done is revised my resume to only include the past 15 years of my job experience since this pertains to the position I am looking for. I also removed the dates from the education portion. Appearance is very important. I updated my interview wardrobe to younger looking styles. I also did something I swore I’d never do…I colored my hair. I also had it cut in a younger looking style. I use teeth whitening products and moisturizers. I am lucky that I already look younger than I am but the extra boost doesn’t hurt. I am also very careful not to make references that will age me and I use phrases and speech patterns that someone younger may use. Yes, eventually your age is going to surface, but hopefully it will be after the employer is convinced that you are the right person for the job.

  8. I only include my job experience from the past 15 years since it is the experience that is most pertinent to the position I am seeking. I also removed the dates from my education. I look a lot younger than I am so this really helps and I updated my interviewing wardrobe to a more modern style. I am also very careful not to make references to things that could age me in interviews and I use phrases that younger people would use as long as they aren’t unprofessional. Also if you are grey, color your hair. Sure some people grey prematurely, but women especially are apt to color theirs anyway. Also wear it in a more modern cut. Be vain…use moisturizing products, whiten your teeth a little, etc. Yes, your age will come out eventually but hopefully it won’t be until after the employer has made the offer and is convinced that you are the person they want to hire.

  9. I had a very successful career as a IT government contractor and resigned my position to move to another state. My wife received an offer she “couldn’t refuse.” At the time, my age was 59 and ti was in 2009. I easily look in my early 50s, but I have grey hair. I must have sent out over 300 resumes, attended tons of networking functions and after three years I had one interview. I suspect it wasn’t an interview per se but an initial screening, which they could have done over the phone, by two 30 year olds. One of them said I was very qualified for the position. Before the interview, I looked around the office and almost everyone looked about 25-30. Anyway, I believe age discrimination is very alive in America.

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