41 Ways to Avoid Generational Stereotypes in Your Next Job Interview

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated January 16, 2021

Today's high unemployment rate means several generations are now fighting to showcase their strengths to recruiters who, in turn, are looking for even the slightest weakness. 

“Today’s job market is so competitive that you need every advantage to stand out,” says Tina Kashlak Nicolai, career architect and principal of Kashlak Ink

Drawing from over 23 years of recruiting experience, she offers specific do’s and don’ts for overcoming generational stereotypes that can often cost otherwise great candidates the job.

For Millennials (In Your 20s):
 
1. Do bring a strong desire to learn, ask lots of questions, and demonstrate active listening skills.
 
2. Do be clear on your strengths and communicate how they relate to the position. 
 
3. Ditch the overly trendy or androgynous clothing -- show up dressed as your gender.
 
4. Don’t "go out" the night before. You’ll look tired, respond sluggishly and smell like you feel.
 
5. Do not show up with your parents or your new pet.
 
[Get more InvestingAnswers tips on How to Ace Any Interview]
 
For Gen Y (In Your 30s):
 
6. Do show up with a commitment to work longer than 18 months and say so in the interview. 
 
7. Do know whether you are a strategist or a tactical player, and how you get results. 
 
8. Do enunciate and articulate. “How are you doing today?” is preferable to “How ya doin’?”  
 
9. Don’t text, talk or play Angry Birds on your phone while waiting in the lobby. Better yet, turn the phone off. 
 
10. Do cover your tattoos. If a tattoo is on your hand, buy makeup to cover it up. 
 
11. Do take out the eyebrow piercings and stretched earlobe corks.
 
12. Do not show up with your children.
 
 
For Mid-Level Manager/Gen X (In Your 40s):
 
13. Know your PAR -- Problem, Action, Result -- cold.  Recruiters need to see you are results driven. 
 
14. Don’t cut interviewers off when they are speaking. It’s better to be safe than sorry, even if you are excited.  
 
15. Do understand that recruiters are looking for a cultural fit. 
 
16. Do be realistic in your salary expectations.  
 
17. Do know your brand differentiators and how they make you unique as a managerial candidate.
 
18. Don’t use arrogant body language like crossing your arms or slouching. 
 
19. Do remember that success in Company X doesn’t mean success in Company Y.
 
For Baby Boomers (Aged 50+):
 
20. Do show up with social media and networking savvy.
 
21. Take a leaf from the Gen X managerial candidate -- know your PAR cold. 
 
22. Do show that you want to learn and are all about self-education. 
 
23. Be prepared to talk about yourself as a commodity. What does your report card say? What does your year-end report show in terms of statistical numbers, successes or failures? Quantify your results.
 
24. Don’t name drop. Your LinkedIn profile has that covered. Plus, some of the companies you once worked for may no longer exist. 
 
25. Don’t use old school tactics such as, “I’d like to meet up with you outside the interview and take you to lunch,” or “Where do you golf?” Fifteen years ago, this was a work motivator. Not anymore. 
 
26. Be prepared with small talk but focus on the business, current technology or a recent article. This shows you are up-to-date and understand the direction the company is headed. 
 
27. Don't go into the interview thinking you will be interviewed for just that position. Know that you are also being assessed for other positions. The attitude that this is a one-to-one chance only hurts you. 
 
For Executive C-Suite Candidates of Any Age:
 
28. Do research the organization’s strategic initiatives and be prepared to discuss your possible solutions. 
 
29. Be prepared to take multiple psychological tests and/or profile assessments.
 
30. Demonstrate that you want to learn. 
 
31. Do have the business acumen to handle financial and cost-cutting conversations.
 
32. Don’t name drop. 
 
33. Don’t act entitled.
 
34. Don’t use tools from five years ago, e.g., outdated clothing, resumes or attitudes. Today’s business world is all about learning and why you as a candidate are so unique that the company must have you onboard.
 
For Long-Term Unemployed Candidates of Any Age:
 
35. Do maintain eye contact, exude confidence, and sit up straight.
 
36. Don’t over explain yourself or your personal situation. 
 
37. Don’t show desperation. If your palms sweat, fix the situation before going into the interview.
 
38. Many recruiters are judgmental. Don’t dress in outdated clothing. 
 
39. Do make a list that spells out what you’ve been doing over the past months. Have you mastered social networking skills like LinkedIn? Did you start an online networking support group? These translate into the adage, “I am a self starter.”  
 
40. Do read the company website, identify the required core competencies and speak to them in the interview. 

41. Take a leaf from the Millennials -- don’t be afraid to ask: Who will contact me next? Who is the final decision maker? When will the follow up occur? 

 
The Investing Answer: Proper preparation in the job hunting process is essential for making a great impression on your interviewer. But the more you resemble your generational stereotype, the less you could stand out from the crowd as the potential new hire.
 
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