Being told in an interview that you are overqualified stings.
You are essentially being told: ‘You have a stellar career history, a world of knowledge, you’ve been there and done that, you can do this job blindfolded, backwards, and in your sleep. Now please leave your resume with the secretary outside. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’
It seems completely backwards. How can you be so qualified for something that it works to your disadvantage? Imagine a company telling Bill Gates that they wouldn’t hire him because he was overqualified.
The hiring managers’ concerns are often grounded around one of the following reasons, according to Executive Coach, Laura Hill:
- You Will Leave When You Find A Better Job. Companies are not too keen on hiring someone who is likely to move on within another year or two. Repeating the hiring process for the same role is taxing on their time and resources.
- You Will Be Bored. You’re so good at the job that you will start looking for a new challenge at a different company.
- They Will Have to Pay You More/You Won’t Be Satisfied With the Compensation. Since you have so much experience, you are going to request more than we can afford, or you will start asking for a raise within a matter of months.
- They Can’t Train You From a Clean Slate. Companies like to be able to mold their employees and shape them to fit in with the company and how it operates. They fear that those who are overqualified are too steadfast in their ways.
- You Will Outshine the Boss. These days, it is possible that you might be older than the CEO!
- You Will Try to Run The Place. You are too confident in your ways and will want to run the show.
- Missed Opportunity to Train/Develop a Younger Employee at the Firm. It is cheaper for organizations to develop younger employees and promote from within – then to hire a lower-level employee to take over.
So where does that leave you in an interview when you are told you might be overqualified for the position?
If you have been recently laid off, are changing careers, or re-entering the work force later on in your career, you may have had to come to terms with the fact that you will need to find a job that pays less than you would like, or in a role that is not as lofty as you would like either.
But if you truly want the job opportunity you are interviewing for, you can address the hiring manager’s concerns in a few ways.
In a recent online masterclass, Hill offered the following scripts to use in an interview:
- “Yes, I’ve run a $MM business. I don’t want to do that anymore; I want to do exactly what I love to do, which is this job and make an impact on my employer’s bottom line.”
- “Been there / done that… At this stage in my career it’s all about ______________; not about running the show.”
- “I’ve been fortunate in my career and my finances are in order. My goal is to find a job where I can have fun and make a difference. I’d like to get paid the market rate for the job I take, but I don’t expect to make what I made before”.
- “You’re right – I am overqualified for this role – and if you told me I would be doing it for the next ten years I wouldn’t be interested. But if I could do this job – successfully – for the next 1-2 years, and then be considered for a different or bigger role, I’m ‘in’.”