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Told you were too qualified? How to respond...

The Hiring Process The Local Job Market Job Training Success on the Job

Question: In a recent job interview, the interviewer told me I was overqualified. I do have more qualifications than they asked for, but if it doesn’t bother me, why should they care? What should I have said? Answer: You were lucky. At least you got an interview. Many employers will see a résumé with more qualifications than the job requires, and conclude that you are either too old or too expensive for them. This is the only stop on the way to the wastebasket. A job seeker in this position may impress a human resources person as being desperate for any job at all, or out of touch with current financial realities, or a has-been (or perhaps a never-was.) It’s expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive to hire and train a new person. The main concern the employer would have was that he would go through this huge, horrible process of hiring you, and as soon as you found something better, you’d leave. There may also have been a concern that you would be bored, or would not fit in well with the current employees. So what could you have said to change the employer’s mind? One thing would have been to answer the overqualified charge with, “Really? Why?” Possibly the interviewer misunderstood something you said, or overlooked something in your information. Then you can correct whatever the misperception is. If you actually are overqualified, this would have been a good chance to explain why you are looking at a job that is beneath your potential. “I’m changing fields and bringing many transferable skills to the job.” “I’m refocusing my career.” “I went to school for ____ and I want to get back to those roots.” Another strategy would be to flatter the interviewer’s company (honestly, of course.) “This is the best company in the area for ….” “I’ve researched your firm, and I especially like ….” “Here are some of the values that I hold in common with your business ….” The bottom line: show the interviewer that you are the best person for the job because you are bringing (your experience, education, personality, background, skills, whatever) to the job, and you expect to be there, committed to this company, as long as you both agree it’s a good fit. Any employer would find that a difficult combination to resist.