Yes it's real! If it weren't it would not be illegal to be asked your age or the year you were born during a job interview.
However most companies get around this by simply asking how many years of experience you have doing something on their online applications. It's also difficult to hide your age if you've worked a company for 10-20 years and you input your start date.
Many companies have turned to limiting the amount of experience they're looking for. "Must have 2-3 years of recent experience or they'll say looking for "bright energetic person to work in a fast paced high energy office, recent college grads welcome!" Trust me they're not looking to hire a 59 year old no matter how "bright and energetic" she/he may be.
Some candidates have cut their resumes in half. In other words they don't list jobs they may have had in the 80s. However when they sit down to be interviewed by their potential manager who is age 28 or 30 odds are unlikely they're going to want to hire someone old enough to be their mom or dad. It's awkward to ask many of the canned interview questions to a 59 or 60 year old. "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" "What career path would you like to follow?'
In their eyes they're talking to a "loser". They imagine themselves being the CEO or President of a company by the time they reach age 45.
Being your 50s is tough spot to be in because you're too young to retire and collect Social Security and most employers consider you too old to hire.
Last year AARP listed "Best employers for workers over 50" http://www.aarp.org/work/on-the-job/info-06-2013/a...