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Ronald Reagan was the oldest president to have been elected in the United States, a couple of weeks shy of his 70th birthday.

However, when challenged about how many birthdays he’d had, he unleashed this zinger in response: “I do not want to make age an issue in this election. I do not want to exploit for political purposes my opponents’ youth and inexperience.”

Reagan was a master of the comeback.

Communication specialist Dr Louise Mahler says humour is a great way to diffuse a difficult situation.

While most employers know some questions are off limits (age, children, and religion, for example), they still crop up in job interviews. This is despite the fact such questions open them to action through the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Fair Work Commission or the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Mahler’s tip for candidates faced with an inappropriate question is to reframe it, as Reagan did.

They can also empathise with the interviewer, reflect the question back to them, understand their concerns and then negate them.

Karalyn Brown, founder of Interview IQ, a career marketing consultancy, says these questions are no longer often asked in big companies, but in smaller businesses, managers may not have been educated about inappropriate or illegal questions.

First, you have to consider whether they are inquiring as part of “idle chit-chat” at the end of the interview.

“It could be that they are just getting to know you,” she says.

However, if you are concerned your answer may count against you in your application for the job, you will need to bat it away with tact.

Brown suggests adopting a quizzical air and saying: “I didn’t realise there was an age requirement on the job?

“Put the onus back on the interviewer, focus on your experience.

“People do slip up, but if you interpret something as discriminatory, ask some questions and see where it is going to go.”

Being able to counter inappropriate questions without being seen as defensive or “difficult” requires some social skills.

“The interview will end pretty quickly if you are aggressive about it.”

The managing director of Adage, a mature age job site, Heidi Holmes, suggests job seekers try rehearsing answers to those questions.

Holmes says people should tackle the questions head-on to find out what the concern is.

Ask: “Is age [childcare, gender] an issue in this job? Why would that be?”

Even if the question hasn’t been asked – but the candidate fears it may count against them – the job seeker can take the initiative and raise an issue at the end of the interview.

This means they can pre-empt any concerns about their ability to work around caring responsibilities, adapt to new ways of doing things, or get along with others.

“You could say that you have been adapting to new technology all your life,” she says.

Give examples of when you have worked well with people who are younger or of a different gender or background.

“[Raising it] shows the interviewer that you are willing to be frank and transparent,” Holmes says.

Mature age job seekers can also help themselves by making it harder for interviewers to discover their age.

They should remove any dates on their resumes that might indicate when they started their career.

“What you were doing in the 1970s and 1980s probably has little relevance to what you are doing now,” she says.

Adds Brown: “Whether you can do the job, that’s probably the bottom line.”



Ten Questions to Ask in an Interview to Get Hired



1) If you could create the ideal person for this position — a wish list, if you will — what are the top traits they would possess?

I would ask this at the beginning of the interview. Sometimes I would surprise the interviewer, as they were ready to plow into their questions. However, I had a strategy. As they answered, I made mental notes of each desire. Then, as the interview continued with their questions, I looked for every opportunity to tie my experience into their list of desired traits. I came back to this at the end of the interview, as you will see below.

2) Can you tell me more about how I would fit in with ______ (insert specific fact that shows you researched the company)?
Employers want to know how much you want this job. Are you willing to put time into studying the company and position? If you want to stand out, you’d better be. Once you have done your homework, let them know it. Prepare specific questions to ask about areas that show you did some digging. Make sure your questions are relevant and researched.

3) What is your vision for your company’s future, and how do you see me contributing to this?
Employers love to talk about their company’s vision for the future. If they are passionate about their work, they enjoy a discussion on their dreams. Let them start to think about your help in fulfilling them. Asking questions like this also shows you are a forward thinker — a desirable trait.

4) What does success look like for you in this role?
It’s helpful to understand expectations upfront. Asking them to define how success looks to them shows your willingness to be aligned to their vision. Disappointments are often caused by unmet expectations. Asking for their thoughts helps them see you as someone who creates clearly defined objectives to meet their goals.

5) Based on my research, I noticed you are distinguished from your competitors because of ____ (insert another fact that shows you have done your homework). Can you tell me what else sets your company apart?
Again, take a moment to remind them that you prepared for your interview by learning as much as publicly possible about their company. Now, ask them to go deeper into what sets them apart. People love to talk about why they stand out ahead of the competition. Let them brag a little.

6) Can you tell me what a typical day in this position looks like?
Again, it’s helpful to show that you can understand the details of the work. Asking them to help you relate to a typical day shows that you are prepared to understand and do the work required.

7) Can you tell me about your company culture?
Every company has a culture. Corporations are like microcosmic versions of countries. The ones I worked for were actually bigger than some countries. Let them know you are interested in what makes them tick. How are they unique in the way they relate to each other?

8) Do you have any concerns about my qualifications that would prevent you from selecting me for this position?
In sales, it’s always best to get all objections on the table so you can deal with them. Some people don’t want to get into these discussions because they can be uncomfortable, but wouldn’t you rather know what’s holding them back from hiring you? If you know before the interview ends, then you at least have a shot at changing their minds. Maybe they misunderstood you, or maybe you failed to address something specific they were seeking. Either way, your best bet is to deal with any obstacles head on.

9) In the beginning of our meeting, you listed your ideal candidate having the qualities of X, Y, and Z (repeat their words back to them that they used to answer to your opening question). Do you feel I have adequately shown you that I demonstrate these qualities?
This is a closed question, meaning it can only be answered with a “Yes” or “No.” It ties the entire interview together. It also puts them in a unique position, because if the answer is “Yes,” than you have used their own words to sell them. Essentially, they already told you what they wanted, if you then demonstrated what they wanted to their satisfaction during your time, why wouldn’t they hire you? If it is “No,” ask them to clarify how you failed. Again, it helps you understand their desires better and give you an opportunity to address them.

10) When will you make your final decision?
If the previous question was a “Yes,” I’ve actually been a bit bolder and asked, “So, when do I start?” instead of this question (I got the job when I did this). However, I was often interviewing for sales positions, so this may be a bit more brazen for some interviewers seeking less forceful people. However, taking initiative to know what the next steps consist of is helpful for your peace of mind and also asks the interviewers to commit to a time frame. It politely calls them to take action to give you a decision. This is a much better scenario than if they took no action and forgot you in the pile of candidates.

While the bulk of interview success is how you sell yourself answering the interviewer’s questions, asking the right queries in return can be the final icing on the cake to strong content. If the candidate pool is competitive, sometimes the line between your dream job and rejection is just asking the right questions.


Boom or bust, but Seniorpreneurs are going gangbusters


Date posted: Thu 8 May 2014

Written by Dr Alex Maritz, Swinburne University of Technology

‘Seniorpreneurs’ are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship, and considered by experts and researchers as the next boom.

Senior entrepreneurship is the process whereby people aged 50+ participate in business start-ups. Notwithstanding the surge in interest in the seniorpreneurship phenomenon, there are certain nuances that differentiate this age group of entrepreneurs from mainstream younger entrepreneurs.

Overall, anecdotal evidence points that older people are in a better position to start a business than younger individuals. Furthermore, senior entrepreneurs place significant value on non-pecuniary benefits of self-employment, such as lifestyle and health preferences.

Taking that these seniors come with decades of experience, existing networks, greater financial flexibility and different motivations, we introduce tips for nascent senior entrepreneurs. With the help of other successful seniorpreneurs, we share these:

1. You are never too old to start a business:

Sixty is the new 50. People aged 50-65 have a higher rate of entrepreneurial activity than those aged 20-34, so what are you waiting for? This is the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship across the globe.

2. Turn passion to profit

A hobby to supplement your income is always 1st prize. Your mature skills and social aptitude drive your motivation, skills, and more importantly, the opportunity to achieve. Risk and reward are always a trade-off, but better so when you do something you enjoy doing.

3. Build a community of likeminded people

Network with other seniorpreneurs who are also starting new ventures. Just think of all those combined skills and professional services you may obtain at ‘mates’ rates. Even sports clubs for seniors are fantastic networking opportunities. Positive environments promote proactivity, innovation and calculated risk-taking. Network with niche organisations such as Seniors Australia.

4. Make your workspace fit your lifestyle

Starting a business no longer necessarily requires a brick and mortar office or storefront. If you do require an office, share space at incubators and networks. Flexibility is the name of the game. Virtual offices are the domain of entrepreneurs.

5. Staff as you grow with part-timers

Manage your resource cost, and remember, the best human resource is usually shared. And it’s not always physical, many services are offered and procured online. Do not overcommit by hiring permanent staff. Fixed costs are dead weight!

6. Be innovative with your funding sources

Friends and family are always a great option to top up the finances to start your business. Other options include grants, contests and crowd funding. Suppliers may well provide valuable credit terms. Use your own credit history to secure additional funds.

7. Back to learning basics

Upskill your entrepreneurship education and training (classes and online). This may sound cumbersome, but enhancing your business acumen pays dividends. If you go to classes, it’s a valuable networking opportunity as well. Most providers also offer online modules as well.

8. Digital and internet is the new technology

Remember, 97% of consumers search the Internet for goods and services. A website and blog go a long way to enhancing your referrals, customer retention and related sales. Even if your business is not online, a virtual presence is essential.

9. Your mobile device is now a pocket office

Similar to making your workspace fit your lifestyle, your mobile device (smartphone) is your new mobile office. Real time communication necessitates real time response; not just a by product of your office environment.

10. Use social media for word-of-mouth marketing

Hand in hand with digital and Internet technology, this is an ideal entrepreneurial marketing avenue open for start-ups. Scan the many online tutorials to assist in this regard.

This article appeared on Dynamic Business. You can read the original article here.


Jessica Hales
Department: Chancellery
Phone: +61392148077

Montessori and Aged Care

Montessori and Aged Care


 An Australian story of Montessori in action

Changing the world of people living with dementia in residential care

Many of us are familiar with the term Montessori as it applies to education but only few are familiar with the application of Montessori for Dementia. For a few aged care facilities across the country the movement to change the world of people living with dementia by using a Montessori approach continues to gain momentum.

Dr Maria Montessori was the first female physician in Italy. She specialised in paediatrics and rehabilitation, and initially worked with children who were typically impoverished and labelled ‘unteachable’. She developed an educational system that was designed as an instrument for social change and improvement.

Dr Maria Montessori’s philosophy and mission was:
• to enable individuals to be as independent as possible,
• to have a meaningful place in their community,
• to possess high self-esteem, and
• to have the chance to make meaningful contributions to their community.

Nearly 80 years later, Dr Cameron Camp, a Psychology Professor, examined the Montessori Philosophy and Principles and discovered important connections to dementia care. This led to his research on Montessori approaches for dementia. Montessori Methods for Dementia™ provide the framework for realising the vision of independence, high self-esteem and a promising future for people living with dementia.

The focus of such an approach is on ‘doing’ with activities and roles being developed based on individual strengths, interests, needs and abilities. This leads to activities that are meaningful to the person and a subsequent enrichment of their lives.

Montessori methods for Dementia focus on supporting both the person and the environment which is adapted to support memory loss and independence. We are unable to change the devastating effects of dementia but we can incorporate strategies and alter the environment while providing meaning and purpose to the day – so that the person not only engages in life, but has the opportunity to maintain, and even restore function.

The approach is flexible, innovative and grounded in research. Since memory is impaired, remembering information for any length of time. Montessori Methods for Dementia™ focuses on putting information into the environment (e.g. on cue cards, labels or in memory books) and working with preserved abilities (e.g. reading, which is spared in dementia).

The identification of strengths and linking these to interests has resulted in a range of new roles and activities. In an aged care home in rural Victoria, where Anne has been working to implement a Montessori approach to care, a resident no longer spends his day wandering the unit in a state of despair and boredom. He now happily rubs back the handles of a bike he is restoring with the support of a young local lad.

A flower area provides the means and the interest for a lady to arrange vases of flowers everyday that adorn the dining tables. Another resident sits at the table placing pegs around a bowl, a fine motor skill activity which enables her to practise and maintain the skills she requires to keep feeding herself. She was at risk of losing those skills but thanks to a Rehabilitative approach to care this is no longer the case.

This same activity enables a gentleman to learn to feed himself again. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkJc2Rk6IgA) A resident who spent her life working as a nurse had fallen into the routine of staying in bed most of the day. She became very agitated and angry when staff attempted to get her out of bed. She can still roll bandages as well as she could all those years ago as a young nurse. From bandages she has progressed to folding face washers and serviettes and with the repetition she is now able to fill sugar bowls. She now has several activities and roles that fill her day and she no longer returns to bed at every opportunity.

Before this approach was taken, all residents from the dementia units were in bed by early evening. Now the units are abuzz with reading groups, Beyond Bingo games or singing. The norm now is for residents to start retiring to bed after supper at around 9.30-10pm.

Orientation cues adorn the walls along with interactive wall spaces. Signs invite residents to self initiate activities such as folding face washers, serviettes, going for a walk in the garden or even pouring a drink for themselves.

Once upon a time there were eight residents on Risperidone, now there are none. Once upon a time there were residents receiving nutritional supplements, now these are not needed. Residents now choose the food they wish to eat from a Bain Marie and they can return for seconds or thirds if they wish. All food is labelled so they know what they are choosing. Red plates which provide good contrast to the food are used to enable residents to eat independently.

Diversional Therapists are now Rehabilitative Therapists where the emphasis is on activities that will maintain function as well as individual activities that embrace a sense of community, purpose and bring joy and meaning. The ability to feed or dress oneself, the ability to find the toilet or one’s own room become the basis upon which activities are developed.

The majority of residents now have a role to fulfil in the unit and this has resulted in a sense of community and belonging. In an industry where funding is determined based on deficits, the journey to change care practises has been difficult.

Implementing a Montessori or rehabilitative approach to care has required a shift from a deficit focus to a strength focus. Staff and management have had to challenge long held beliefs and attitudes. This gets easier as residents flourish and the positive outcomes are witnessed by all.

No longer is it called a Secure Unit, or Dementia Care Unit or Special Unit, but rather a Memory Support Unit – a unit where the environment is set up to support a person’s memory loss and where through a Montessori approach staff encourage residents to function to the highest level possible given their dementia. There is an understanding and acceptance that while a person’s level of dementia cannot be changed, nor the disease process halted, each person has the right to be assisted and encouraged to function to their highest possible level.

Montessori Methods for Dementia can be adopted and applied anywhere where people living with dementia live or are cared for, their own home, residential care facilities, day respite programs and acute care facilities.