Are Your Interviews Safe from Age Discrimination?

In yesterday’s Advisor, we took at look at some ways to avoid age discrimination in job posts and in the job application. Now let’s continue by looking at ways to avoid age discrimination during the interview.

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Avoiding Age Discrimination: Tips for the Interview

Here are some tips for avoiding age discrimination during the interview:

  • Watch out for biases. Members of the recruiting team may have biases that end up resulting in exclusion of older applicants, even if they do not intend to do so. They should be trained to avoid biases as much as possible. (Simply understanding that unintentional biases exist can help.)
  • Don’t make assumptions. Interviewers often assume things about older workers that may not be true. For example, they may assume an older worker is less likely to stay long-term (wanting to retire sooner) or that the individual will be less likely to want to work long hours. Or, they may assume that an older applicant will not be well-versed in the latest technology used on the job. Or, they may assume the individual will be unhappy working for a younger supervisor. None of these assumptions are necessarily true.
  • Don’t ask about age. Be careful about questions that would require the candidate to divulge his or her age. Much like the things to avoid in the application, there’s no need to ask about specific year of graduation or other similar questions that would tell the interviewer the age of the person. (Knowing the age simply brings up more of a possibility that the candidate will perceive that there could be age bias, even if there is not.)
  • Don’t change what questions you ask based solely on the age of the candidate. For example, don’t ask only older (but not all) candidates to demonstrate their technical capabilities. If you’re going to require some type of proof of capabilities, it should be asked of everyone applying for the same role.
  • Consider reviewing who in the organization conducts interviews. It may make sense to have some variation to reduce the chances of one person’s unintentional bias having too much impact on the process.

How have you modified your recruiting process to ensure there’s no inadvertent age discrimination?

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