How to deal with being told you are "over qualified" for a job
It’s the perfect example of a catch-22; you need qualifications to get a job, but having TOO many is a problem.
Maybe you've been made redundant from a high-paying job and the prospects for similar positions are scarce. Or maybe you're looking for a greater work-life balance that only a step down the corporate ladder can provide.
So you’re at the job interview when those awful words come so effortlessly from the mouth of the interviewer: "Sorry, but you're overqualified."
In order to really understand what this means, you have to remember that you're trying to enter a business where money drives the decision-making process. There are a few reasons why being over-qualified can be used against you:
1. You'll jump ship when a better offer comes along.
Since hiring a new employee is like any other investment a company makes, the company has to weigh the decision carefully. HR is worried that if another offer comes along (which it may if you're so qualified), you won't think twice about leaving the company and cashing in on a new position.
2. You are likely to want too much money.
This is the real meaning of over-qualified if that phrase comes soon after you reveal your salary history. If they can hire a younger and less experienced applicant, they'll be justified in paying him or her less.
3. You are too likely to become bored in this position.
Another major concern is the motivation of a new employee towards the position. Employers want to see drive and interest in the job, and not someone who is simply cashing in the pay-checks because they know they could be doing something better…AND for more money.
4. You are too old.
Of course an employer cannot say this explicitly; it is against the law. But it is usually the case that, when an employer tells you you’re overqualified for the job, they mean that they feel you will be bored in that job. If you’re sure that you will not, then how should you respond if, during a job interview, you’re told you’re overqualified?
•Point out things about the job that combine with your past experience and to be generally enthusiastic about the job.
•Write down all of the reasons why you want this particular job. When you're done, think about why they are hiring someone, and then cross out reasons that have nothing to do with the employer's needs.
•Gradually steer the conversation onto how you can meet the prospective employer's needs even as the company and the position both grow.
•Go through all the requirements on the application, and compare them to your training, skills and on-hand experience.
•Sign a contract to show you're serious. If they're afraid you'll leave after six months, including the three months of training, then lock yourself in for twelve months.
•Being overqualified doesn't disqualify you, but you do need to demonstrate a good reason for wanting the job, and that you would be unlikely to quit if something better came along.
So the next time you hear the dreaded “O” word, don’t be disheartened. Continue with the interview and subtly treat the statement as a compliment. After all, not only do you have all the qualifications needed for the current position, but you also have many qualifications that will be needed later.