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Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and Shark Tank investor, took a question from a listener on her podcast who had been iced out of a job recently – and just so happened to be 20 years younger than the other candidates. How could she prevent her youth from being a liability – and more importantly, how could she quickly turn the situation around and change the interviewer’s mind about her?
“I don’t believe you need to be older to be smart,” said Corcoran, who started her real estate business at age 23.
1. ) Slow down your speech. Don’t sound overeager! Speaking slower will make you sound more grounded and substantial.
2.) Think of yourself as a caregiver. When Corcoran started her first business, everyone who worked for her was at least 10 years older than her, but “I thought of myself as a parent… When you walk into the interview, you might think of yourself as a caregiver. You’re there to do a good job and take care of the responsibilities and the people, and speak from that vantage point.
3.) Have a story ready to bring out in the interview to “overcome anything you see as a hindrance.” If the caller thinks her young age is a hindrance, for example, “you have to develop a story that rings true and addresses the age objection before they even raise it.” For example, Corcoran suggested an example that builds your backstory: People think I’m so young, but the fact is, I’ve always taken care of my older siblings; I’ve always had a part-time job; I always had to help my parents out.
“They’ll look at you as an older person for the rest of the interview,” Corcoran says.
4.) Dress for the part – even if that means dressing older. “So if you’re wearing slingbacks that are appropriate for your age,” said Corcoran, “replace them with a solid shoe, a real dress, maybe even a suit… You’re going to edit yourself based on what the person interviewing you wants to see. And if that means older, than by all means, go out and by that old outfit!”
5.) But don’t cripple yourself with sky-high heels. “I never hire anyone who wears really high heels to any interview,” confessed Corcoran. In fact, she doesn’t even look at their resume. Her theory is that anyone who “clumps” into an interview on stilettos “isn’t going to work very hard once they get the job.”
Whether she’s right or wrong, first impressions matter.