Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
INTERVIEWS / FEB. 02, 2015
version 3, draft 3

How to Handle Being Told 'You're Overqualified' in Interviews


Employers can tell whether you are overqualified for the job just by looking at your resume. If your qualifications, experience and skills represent an individual with a managerial background – a manager, or any other high-level job seeker, and you are applying for a lower-level position, then yes you are indeed overqualified.

However, if you are happy with taking a lower-level position, either because you are interested in a job with fewer responsibilities or for any other personal reason, you need to make the employer realise what you can do for the company, and explain why you are interested in the position in the first place.

If you are being told “You are overqualified” during the interview, here’s what you can do:

#1 Show Your Commitment

When employers say that, it means they want you to reassure them you will be staying at the company for a while. Since they know you are overqualified, this probably means they would like to hire you. In this case, you need to show your commitment and dedication to the company. In order to be convincing, tell the interviewer what you know about the company and why you want to work for them. Also, let them know you are here to stay saying:

“I would never take a job I wasn’t interested in or one where felt I would not make a long-term contribution”.

#2 Explain the Situation

While the employer knows the benefits from hiring an overqualified candidate, at times they are reluctant to make a decision. Perhaps first they would like to know what your expectations are in terms of salary and other employee benefits. In fact, they might be thinking you will be unhappy with the job and therefore won’t stay long, or you may be expecting a fast promotion. Here, what you need to do is explain why demotion is a good option for you at the moment.

Refer to why you want to leave your current job, and explain what you would like to focus on once you get the job. For example:

“My current position requires a lot of out-of –town travel which I am no longer willing to do, instead I have decided to seek a different position that allows me to focus on my strengths and go home most evenings.”

#3 Explain the Benefits

Provide examples on how you developed the skills that relate to the job on offer, and explain why the employer should hire you. Perhaps you can refer to situations where you helped your team at your last job achieve a milestone and make suggestions about how you can help the company succeed. Here’s a generic, although very helpful example:

“I am confident that you can benefit from my experience as I will do everything I can to try and ensure the companies continued success.”

As you can see, the way you handle the situation can determine whether you will advance through the process or not and ultimately if you get the job on offer. Whatever the case, make sure you are prepared to give your best answer and convince the employer you are a good fit.

Have you ever experienced a similar situation? Let us know how you handled being told “you are overqualified” in the comment section below.


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