Career Advice

How to Combat Ageism During Job Interviews and Salary Negotiations

Maybe you followed all the advice you found online about how to conceal your age in your resume and cover letter – and it worked! You’ve been invited to a job interview, and you’re excited. But now there’s no hiding the fact that you’re probably old enough to be the interviewer’s parent… maybe even grandparent. After all, how can you hide your age when they’re looking you right in the face?

So what can you do to increase the odds you make it through the interview and ensuing salary negotiations without age discrimination rearing its ugly head and preventing you from landing the job? Read on for some tips that will help you improve your chances.


1. Avoid Saying “When I Was Your Age…”

It might seem obvious, but watch how you talk. Make sure you don’t come across as nostalgic or overly focused on memories or the past. Don’t remark on the age difference between you and your interviewer. And try not to talk about how things used to be done.

2. Deflect If Someone Asks Your Age

It’s technically illegal to be asked your age during a job interview (except for a select few professions like airline pilots). So if this happens, deflect. Don’t directly answer the age question; instead, ask for clarification on how your age would impact your ability to do the job.

3. Dress Modernly and Professionally

First impressions are everything. Don’t wear the same interview outfit you wore 10 years ago. While interviewers likely don’t care about current trends, they do want to see someone in front of them who is with the times. Aim to dress neatly, professionally, and modernly.

4. Tackle Being “Overqualified” Head On

One of the most common reasons why older folks are dismissed as viable candidates for job openings is because the employer views them as overqualified. They might worry that this is only a temporary stop for you on your way to something better. And, in fact, your wealth of knowledge may be more than is required for an entry-level job. Be upfront and address this head on. Let the interviewer know that while you have a lot of experience, you’re looking for a role with more flexibility, for example. Explain which benefits of the job appeal to you and why you plan to stick around for a long time.

5. Keep Talking About the Future

An employer might be hesitant to invest in an employee that they don’t envision staying with them for the long term. Throughout your interview and salary negotiation, weave in your plans for the future and how excited you are to grow with the company. Counteract the idea that you might be looking to retire soon so they feel more comfortable offering you a higher salary.

6. Consider Asking for Non-Monetary Perks

As you negotiate your salary, keep in mind that while the employer might not be able to offer you more money because of your extensive experience, they may be able to give you other perks like more flexibility in your schedule, additional training, or extra paid days off. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and sometimes these non-monetary benefits are quite enjoyable.


As you can see, there are multiple ways you can combat ageism during both the job interview and salary negotiation. In essence, so much of it comes down to your attitude. Show the interviewer that you’re a positive person and eager to work with them for a long time to come. Before you know it, you’ll be landing the job along with a nice salary to boot!