Career Q+A: Interviewers, age differentials

As seen in Cynopsis Classified Advantage

Questions from our Readers
Answered by Michael Pollock

Q: Typically, how long into the interview does the interviewer decided my fate? Is it within the first few moments and the rest of the interview is just for show?

A: Interviewers are just people – so the range is vast. You should treat every moment as the critical moment. Certainly the first impression is super-important. It is possible that the interviewer could be spinning out the time out of politeness – but you should act as if it is all totally serious. It may just be that their affect is low – you don’t want to misinterpret the signals. It is possible that the job is yours to lose so keep on delivering. Yes, you want to be responsive to their cues – but stay on the upside just in case.

Q: I am 46 years old and just interviewed with a company by a man in his mid twenties. Instead of a hand shake he “fist bumped” me and continuously referred to me as “Dude.” I didn’t say anything to him about this, but should I have, and should I speak to his superior about this or is it okay?

A: No you don’t speak to his superior about this. He can talk to you any way he chooses as long as he doesn’t break any employment laws. It may be that he is testing you with this. What is the right way to respond? I can’t answer that without knowing you – but try not to be thrown off.

It does not mean you have to call him dude. You should stay yourself. But if you are being interviewed by a twenty-something, that means that should you get the gig you are going to have to be comfortable around that generation and its behavioral norms. If you are already feeling awkward, then perhaps you should consider that this environment is not a good fit for you.