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Beware of Ageism as Older Workers Look for Employment

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 26, 2009

Yancey says there is also not completely unfounded concern that older workers may be set in their ways, technophobes, or unable to adjust to flexible job descriptions. There are tactful ways to address those concerns as well. "I always like to give hypotheticals," Yancey says. "'This position and the way our company structures it requires this person filling this position to do a wide range of responsibilities. Give me an example of a situation where you had to go beyond your job description to do a lot of other things.'"

"The easy rule of thumb is every question needs to be job related," Yancey says. "Don't use any subjective criteria based on age or personal traits. Just phrase your questions, as the hiring manager, in terms of what the job requires. Have them explain how they meet those requirements, and express any concerns, if you have any. And don't come to an interview with some stereotypes and assumptions of what they can and cannot do. Let them show you."

Remember, while it may be hard for an aggrieved job applicant to win a lawsuit, Yancey says that's almost irrelevant. "It's not about whether you win at trial. It's about preventing the claim," she says. "It costs $500 to file a claim, and then your life is miserable."


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John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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