How To Answer The Interview Question: Aren’t You Overqualified For This Job?
Aren’t You Overqualified For This Job?
In a perfect world, we’d all be applying for roles that fit our skills, professional experience, and career goals but in the real world, that’s not always an option. Maybe you were laid off or you’re feeling stagnant in your current job, and you are trying to take a step back to get new skills and experience, whatever the reason, you may hear the dreaded “aren’t you overqualified for this position?” question in an interview.
Does “overqualified” necessarily have to translate to “disqualified”? While this question can feel like a bit of a dead-end, it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you’re in looking for a new role, the most important question you want to answer is ‘Are you overqualified or “fully qualified” for this position? If you are overqualified for a position, what that means is that you are applying for a position below your education level or your work experience.
When an interviewer asks you “Aren’t you overqualified for this job”, it’s going to initially appear as if he/she is trying to talk you out of applying for the position, but what they’re really asking is why you’re looking for a low position when you seem to have the qualifications necessary to get a higher role. They may be wondering if you have padded/ decorated your resume or if there is a professional issue that is keeping you from finding a job more equal to your qualifications.
Remember, it is your interviewer’s job to find out as much information about you as possible, and this inquisitive question is just a way of knowing why you are a good fit for the job.
Sometimes, exceeding the requirements for a position can hurt a job applicant’s hiring chances. Candidates with more experience than necessary may face certain interview questions on why they’re applying for positions with lower requirements. Some employers may express their concerns but rather than misrepresenting their skills, job seekers should face the over-qualification question with honesty and sensitivity.
Be sure to read the hiring manager’s body language and proceed carefully as you try to clarify the source of their worries. Avoid aggressive, arrogant, or defensive replies and address their concerns as natural and valid but unnecessary due to your personal goals.
At first glance, it’s easy to think that being overqualified for a role could be a great thing. After all, is there anything better than you feeling confident and self-assured?
But, there are some glaring signs that would be a step back for you such as desired experience, role expectations, organizational structure, and more.
Signs You May Be Overqualified
- You Exceed Every Requirement in the Job Description
When you take another look at the job description and you notice that you easily check every single box that the employer is trying to find. Depending on your career path, this could be a great thing for you; however, if you’re having an intention to move up the career ladder, the role may not equip you with the skills to face the challenges that are needed to continue your growth. This shouldn’t stop you from applying if you really like the job.
- You applied for the Position Just to get into the Organization
You’re desperate to gain access to your dream company, so you tell yourself that you’re willing to settle.
In some cases, this will be a good strategy, as long as you don’t fall significantly below your professional qualifications for the sake of gaining entry.
While gaining access to that organization may be a definite win, there must be other redeeming and relevant aspects of the role that you can pinpoint aside from the brand. You have to be sure that you won’t get bored in the role easily and that you would be satisfied with the remuneration.
- You’d be the foremost Experienced Person in that position
There’s nothing wrong with being the most experienced person in a specific department. But, if you surpass everybody by far, it could show that you’ll quickly feel the position is beneath you. That said, carefully evaluates your career goals but if you are no longer interested in career growth, then this might not be a nasty thing to do.
- You make tons of Money and Have More Responsibility in Your Current role
Unless you’re intentionally trying to take a step back, or you’re changing career paths, most professional moves should be lateral moves.
If the position would be a step down in terms of pay or responsibility, the likelihood is that you’re overqualified for it.
- You aced the Take-Home Assignment
Occasionally, employers will give some kind of take-home assignment or project during the interview process. It’s meant to give them an idea of how you work and what it would be like having you on their team.
While those kinds of tasks shouldn’t necessarily stump you, they require some thought, concentration, and effort.
If you’re able to pass the assignment with hardly any effort, that could likely mean that the daily responsibilities of the position won’t keep you engaged and interested.
- You Answered All of the Questions Easily
You’ve already been through the first round of interviews and you anticipated being challenged by a couple of the questions. But, instead, you were able to answer all of them head-on with no hesitation.
Passing an interview is a great feeling. However, it’s essential to retreat and reflect on that conversation you had during the interview process. Were there times when you were explaining a concept, only to have your interviewer tell you what a great idea that was or that they had never thought of things that way before?
Feeling confident about a new role is one thing. But, you would like to make sure that you’ll end up in an environment where you’ll learn from your colleagues, instead of constantly teaching them.
Prepare your strategy for answering the overqualification question
- Write down your reasons for applying for a lesser position. This could be you are looking for a way to get into a new industry or you want to work your way up in a large, growing organization. Perhaps the lesser position represents a quality of life change which would allow you to spend more time with your children and family. Make sure that your reasons for applying for a lesser position are solidified in your mind because if you aren’t convinced, you most certainly won’t be ready to convince a prospective employer.
- Review the work description in terms of your skills. Be ready to show that you are up to the challenges and would be able to hit the bottom running on the new job. When the opportunity presents itself, crush the idea that you are not “overqualified” but “fully” qualified for the role.
- Prepare an inventory of your key personal attributes and mention them when the chance arises during the interview. For example, demonstrate how you are ready to work with colleagues at various levels in an organization. State your organizational or project management skills, being bound to mention specific accomplishments. Point out the benefits of your can-do attitude.
- Provide transparency about work-life balance. An interviewer who is unaware of your desires might see the role as a step backward for you and if you don’t explain that you are looking for a work-life balance for him/her, you could be passed over for the job. A hiring manager is likely going to assume that you have been unable to find a job at your current level and you are just settling for this position. They will feel that you are going to be bored easily and you’ll depart for greener pastures as soon as you discover another senior position.
The first step to overcoming this issue is to be truthful about your situation and make them know that the work you’re interviewing for is the job you want and are passionate about. Reassure them you want to be in this role for a long time. Once you do this, you are no longer overqualified, you are now fully qualified for the role.
- Avoid oversimplifying your resume. You don’t want to oversimplify your qualifications and undersell yourself. This is a common interview mistake that often costs a job seeker the position. Once you’ve made it clear that this is the position you actually want, you have to sell your skill sets and show the prospective employer what an asset you’ll be to them together with your additional skills and professional experience.
Here are ways you can Handle Being Overqualified in a Job Interview
Admit Your Concern
You might think it’s better to avoid the subject of you being overqualified in an interview. The thing is, if you’ve realized that you’re overqualified, the likelihood is that that the person interviewing you has, too. Pretending that it isn’t an issue could be construed negatively by your prospective employer, so it’s best to address it during the job interview so long as you’re humble and professional.
Begin by thanking the interviewers for sharing their concerns, and then consider asking about the source of their unease. Some employers expect overqualified candidates to quit when a far better job turns up. Others think a more experienced job applicant will find it difficult to follow a less experienced supervisor. You have to respond to questions about your ability to take direction from younger, less experienced co-workers by highlighting your maturity and sensibility. Stress that you are a team player and pride yourself on working well with all kinds of individuals of varied ages and backgrounds.
Focus On Your Accomplishments
Upon realizing that you are overqualified for the role, you’ll want to downplay your strong skill set. In fact, you should do the opposite. When you are applying for any job, your major focus should be to point out how you’re an ideal match for the position. The only way you’re going to get an interviewer into considering you for the work is to point out how your skills and past work experiences make you an indispensable asset to the organization.
To highlight the benefits of your experience, explain how your wealth of qualifications can help your potential employer, mention your skills and strengths and show how they relate to the position at hand.
Express Your Interest in Learning
An interviewer might be reluctant to consider you for a job because they may feel that you’re going to get bored easily in the position. So it’s up to you to point out the various aspects of the position which will be new to you and that you’re very curious about. You can stress your interest; emphasize your enthusiasm in learning about the company’s culture or that you’re excited by where they are headed in the future and that you want to be a part of it. By being interested in the company, you’ll show that you’re eager to learn and grow in your new role.
You can never be overqualified in your eagerness, desire to mentor, and thirst for self-improvement. Hiring managers got to know you would like this job and why you’re excited to hitch their team. Experienced job seekers may want to attach themselves to a company on the rise, explore a new field, achieve work-life balance, or focus their careers on duties they enjoy.
Address questions about a non-management position by saying that while you enjoyed managing people in the past, you are ready for a change. Let them know you are open to future management roles and don’t say anything negative about the challenges of managing others.
Don’t Talk about Money so much
Your prospective employer might want to call off the interview once they realize that you’re overqualified for the role and possibly out of their pay range. Beat them to the punch, quash money-related questions/fears and express that you are flexible regarding your salary. Let them know that while money is important to you, you also hope to find personal satisfaction in this new role for years to come. Admittedly, this will be a tough topic to discuss because many of us still believe that “money talks.” Make your convictions talk louder by leveling with the interviewer.
Also, it’s important to be realistic when it involves salary. If you’re overqualified for a task, don’t expect to be paid higher simply because of your credentials, most companies will need to keep the salary within what’s they budgeted for that level of the job.
Make a Commitment
Another hindrance to hiring an overqualified applicant is the fear that they’ll jump ship after a couple of months. Calm your potential employer’s fears by making a firm commitment should you be offered the role. Discuss your history of being loyal to companies for a long time to ease worries that you’ll leave. Let them know that you have a strong interest in the job and would like to stick with the organization. More seasoned candidates can mention their desire to pass on their knowledge to their co-workers to dispel concerns around personnel conflicts.
Find the Perfect Fit
Once you have recognized that you’re overqualified for a job, it’s up to you to make a decision on how you want to move forward. Wrap up the interview by explaining how you’d be a good match for the role but if the conversation doesn’t end in your favour, ask the hiring manager to describe his ideal candidate. Listen carefully and in your own words, explain how you fit his criteria.
How you should not answer the question “Aren’t you Overqualified for This Job?”
It is easy to answer an interview question about over qualification incorrectly if you’re not prepared. To make sure you ace the interview, avoid falling for these common mistakes.
- Don’t answer the question by bragging about how you’ll get a higher-paying job easily if you wanted.
- Don’t make the mistake of playing down your accomplishments in response to the question.
- Take care not to get nervous or edgy when asked if you’re over-qualified.
- Don’t breeze over the question or your answer in an attempt to get the hiring manager to quickly advance to the subsequent question.
Hiring managers value honesty and confidence, so avoid aggressive, defensive, arrogant, evasive, or timid responses. Address their concerns as natural and valid but unnecessary due to your personal goals
Points to Emphasize
When answering the question, mention your most pertinent skills, traits, and experiences that qualify you for the position.
- Mention how your previous work experience has prepared you to handle situations that you may likely face if hired.
- Talk about the personality traits you exhibit that make you a good match for the role.
- Emphasize the skills set you’ve developed which will help you handle the varied responsibilities of the role.
- Mention why you think you are the best person for the position.
- Answer the question in a positive manner and make the interviewer know that while you are perfectly qualified for the position, you are not necessarily over-qualified.