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Avoid "Winging-It" in Job Interviews

By Renee Lee Rosenberg

You may be like so many others who are 50 plus, finding yourself, during this turbulent time, fearful and concerned about how to prepare for the guardian of your next job, the dragon at the gate: the dreaded interview process.

Don't Wing It!

The first mistake on the list of Common Boomer Job Interview Mistakes is "winging it." Walking into an interview unprepared is never a good idea. Always prepare as completely as you can for the interview. Research the company. Prepare your answers and questions, and always be sure to practice, practice, and practice.

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Preparing for the Interview

Your preparation process can be in five steps:

1. Know how you fit the requirements.

Always be mindful that you must be completely prepared to discuss how your skills, experience, and accomplishments meet the duties required. You will always have competition.

  • Make sure you come across as the expert in the field so that you can knock the others out of the water.
    Be familiar with the specific requirements of the job, and be able to explain how you can meet them by giving examples of similar experiences and accomplishments in your past job(s).
  • Make sure you have a current copy of the job description.
    This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have heard many a story of a job seeker going on an interview based on a friend or family recommendation and never actually seeing a description of the job duties before they interview. Don’t let this happen to you. Always ask to see the job description. Otherwise, how will you be prepared to ace the interview?

2. Know the industry, the job, and the employer.

Know as much information as you can about the industry, the job and of the needs and problems of the company. As the saying goes, find out “what keeps them up at night.” Conduct a thorough research campaign of the industry, the company, and the job functions.

[MORE: Guide to Company Research.]

3. Research the people.

Always try to find out about the individuals who will be interviewing you. Know who will be involved in the interview process. I have had clients report back after an interview that they were interviewed by four people, but only expected one interviewer. Don’t let this happen to you.

Call the company ahead of the interview to ask who will be interviewing you and what their job titles are. Don’t be caught by surprise.

When I interviewed for my last position I actually found myself in a conference room surrounded by six program directors, all asking questions. Was I prepared? You bet I was. I knew each name and area of responsibility. This may seem unusual but believe me it can happen.

Find out ahead of time and don’t walk into the room like a deer in the headlights. Be prepared, not surprised.

(And by the way, I got the job.)

[MORE: Interview Investigation: Know the Interviewer In Advance.]

4. Be up-to-date.

Gathering current, up-to-date information is important. There are many resources available to you to get the information you need.

  • First, look people and companies up on LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Next, go to your local central library branch and ask the job information librarian for data bases that will give you company and industry specific information. I like Reference USA for searching individuals in companies. Many databases can only be used in the library but many can also be copied onto a memory chip and used at home. Ask which are available to copy for home use.
  • Join Google Alerts to get updated media stories on a specific person, company, or industry.
  • Speak to people you know in the industry and to people who can connect you to people who know people in the industry/company. Research, research, research until you feel you can sound like the expert.

[MORE: 5 Ways You Look Out-of-Date in Your Job Search.]

5. Practice your questions and answers.

The fifth step is practice, practice, your questions and answers, Write them down, speak into a mirror, and speak into a tape recorder. Listen to how you sound. Are you convincing? Would you hire you?

Be mindful of your filler words, your tone, and your pitch. Remember! Winging it will never get you the next interview or the offer.

More Information About Successful Job Interviews


About the author...

With a Master's degree in Vocational Counseling, Boomer Renée Lee Rosenberg, MA, is a specialist in vocational counseling, career management, job search, and retirement. Renée is also a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) with over 25 years of experience helping individuals navigate career change, cope with stress, and achieve successful outcomes and a Certified Five O’Clock Club coach for over 20 years. For more information about Renée, visit her websites RetirementTutor.com and PositivityPro.com. You can also find her Profile on LinkedIn, send her an email at renee@retirementutor.com, or call her office at (212) 924-2117.


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Guide to Job Search for Boomers & Those Over 50:

Over 50 / Boomer Job Search Concerns:

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Figuring Out What's Next for Over 50 / Boomers:

Developing Your Personal Success Plan for Over 50 / Boomers:

Making Your Best Impression for Over 50 / Boomers:

Over 50 / Boomer Career Pioneers:

Over 50 / Boomer Career Change:

Additional Resources:


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