7 Questions You Should Never Ask at the Interview to Get the Job You Want After 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

Much of what makes a great job interview is intuitive. It’s chemistry between you and your interviewer(s). While you’re keenly focused on putting your best foot forward and asking smart and sometimes tough questions, it’s oh-so-easy to say something that could knock you out of the running. When an awkward question slips through your lips, even the smoothest of interviews can go south. Here are some examples of questions you should steer clear of in interviews.

  • Does my age concern you? When you’re interviewing for a job and you’re over 50, you’re painfully aware that ageism is alive and well in many workplaces, but this question is likely to make your interviewers uncomfortable. Instead, ask if they have any concerns about your skills or experience.

  • Will I be working for someone younger than me? This question is a red flag indicating that you may have trouble working with or for someone who’s younger than you. The best option is to accept the fact that you’ll probably have a younger boss.

    If that’s a deal breaker, then, as you get closer to getting the job offer, ask to meet with your potential boss and the team you’ll be working with. This approach enables you to subtly obtain the information you need without making an issue out of it.

  • Can you tell me about your company’s benefits? Don’t put the horse before the cart, at least not during your initial interview. Save this question for when you’re negotiating the offer.

  • What training is provided? Most employers want to hire people who can hit the ground running, not people they have to train and carefully supervise.

  • Can I telecommute? Do you offer any flextime options? Such questions wave red flags, implying that you’re not really committed to the position. These questions also suggest that you’re uber-independent and may not work cheerfully with direct supervision or that you have other demands that could interfere with giving the job your undivided attention. Again, you can ask these questions later, when you have offer in hand.

  • How long will it take to get promoted? The employer is looking to fill a current need, so focus on getting the position first. If you feel compelled to ask about promotions, talk in terms of career paths within the organization, and keep the focus on meeting the organization’s needs.

  • Can I bring my dog to work? Sure, there are pet-friendly workplaces, but it’s probably not worth bringing up unless you see other pooches roaming the hallways.