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Employment Strategy Corner – It’s not about the age, it’s about the energy

When you think of the “age” factor, consider Clint Eastwood. Recently, I have seen a number of his pictures – varied, exciting, creative – ones he has written, produced, and directed, and acted in. What a talent and what a life span! Here’s an “old” man with more “young” characteristics and creativity than filmmakers half his age. Would you eliminate him from job consideration because of his 81 years?

Translating this into our hiring requirements, I realize that many hiring managers who are reticent to interview mature candidates are not necessarily discriminating on the basis of age, but are instead concerned that an older candidate won’t bring the requisite energy to the job. I have to admit, I have interviewed some “mature” candidates myself who, like Clint Eastwood, practically sauntered into the interview, oozing energy and drive. 

No hiring manager wants to see a low level of energy, no matter what the age of the candidate. We all want to interview someone who is enthusiastic because we assume that’s how they’ll tackle their job!

With that in mind, and especially when you are speaking with a more mature candidate, here are two important components to look for when hiring:

1. It’s not about the age, it’s about the energy

Likewise, in the interview, watch for how lively and enthusiastic your candidate is. Watch for his or her energy level.

For example, do they have a firm and enthusiastic handshake? Are they leaning forward in their chair in anticipation of your next question? Is their tone of voice energetic and upbeat? Do they reveal information in their answers that gives you an idea of energy level, such as working extra effort on a project, enthusiasm for lots of travel, deep involvement in a community cause or hobby, etc. These are all things that can (and do) fatigue lots of people, and your candidate’s involvement in them is a window into his energy level.

2. That was then, this is now

A candidate who has had a long career has, theoretically, more accomplishments. While you review these accomplishments during the interview, be wary if your candidate waxes a bit too nostalgic about the “good ol’ days.” This could be a sign that you are speaking to someone who may be resting on his laurels and living in the past.

Past successes aside, you need a candidate who is looking forward to making new, fresh contributions to your organization. If you feel uncomfortable about the “good ol’ days” part of the interview, you probably have the wrong guy/gal. Go on to your next candidate.

Let’s face it, as we get older, things do slow down a bit. What’s important, however, is the degree to which we let it happen. When hiring, look for employees who have maintained their edge, a la Eastwood, no matter what their age.

See you here next month for our article, “The right way to build a sales force.”

Philip Kemper is Founder/President of Kemper Associates, a 34 year old Chicago-based national executive search firm, specializing in Permanent and Contract staffing for Trade Shows and Exhibits, Staging and Equipment Rental, Business Meetings and Events Production, Video, Training and Incentives and more .His more complete bio is on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/philip-kemper/2/795/308/ . You may view Kemper Associates’ web site at: www.Kemperassociates.net , and contact Phil with questions or comments, and employment needs at: Kemperassoc@hotmail.com, or his private phone line: (312) 944-6551.

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