5 tips: Giving older applicants an edge in job interviews

By Michael Hemphill
Guest Columnist

1. If you have gray hair, that’s fine, but you need to have a very good cut and a style that is youthful- looking without being juvenile. You don’t need to color your hair if you have a really good contemporary cut. If you do color your hair as you age, don’t ever go darker than a medium brown, especially for men. You see men out there who you know they’re gray and they dye their hair almost dark, dark brown. It screams fake.

2. Your gait and posture have a lot to do with how someone will perceive you as young or old. Gait and posture really show age or youth. Some people aren’t even aware of that.

3. A good strong handshake and a smile set the mood. It’s very important. A strong handshake exudes confidence. As for your smile, you might consider using a teeth-whitening product or visiting your dentist to assure yellowing teeth don’t age you.

4. Dress beautifully and contemporarily without being juvenile. Be in style. Don’t wear an old and baggy suit. If you clothes look old and dated, it’s going to make you look old and dated. Not all job interviews require a suit anymore. Wear a suit if it’s a suit-type of job. If it’s more of a casual open workplace, you might wear a good-quality shirt and pant, and maybe a blazer. Ask a 30-something friend or relative to go through your closet and nix some items. If you’re buying something new, go to a boutique where you can really look at what is on the racks. Upscale boutiques and department stores have wardrobe consultants who are very familiar with what’s current. Look at magazines. Go to the internet. Just Google “appropriate dress for a 55-year-old going for a job interview.” If you’ve gained weight and aged, take that into consideration. You don’t want to have any bulges showing.

5. Be up on social media. Don’t tell them, ‘I don’t know anything about Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest.’ Be aware of all those, even if you have to be educated by your child or grandchild, because, if you don’t know anything about social media, you’re not going to be good in the modern workplace. Knowing the lingo too — “lol’ for “laugh out loud” — is important too. It may never come up in the interview, but you should learn it. You need to have a Facebook page. If you’re interviewing with me, I’ll check your Facebook page and I’ll check your Instagram, just to see what kind of a person you are. If you post things that are inappropriate, I won’t hire you. LinkedIn is really important if you’re looking for a job. It also shows your contacts, who you know. I like professionally done LinkedIn pictures, but if you take a good shot with your phone, it can be fine too. If you’re looking for a job that has very high qualifications, then the picture needs to be formal and create an impression of a highly qualified person. If you’re looking for a job coaching basketball, then a more casual shot is fine.


Michael Hemphill is the owner of Michael Christopher Salon in Greenville.

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