How do you answer "You're Overqualified?"

Are you overqualified?You’re in the interview and the interviewer says that you are overqualified, what do you do? To answer this question, I asked Melissa Cooley from The Job Quest to answer this with me.

Melissa has come to visit me at Design Resumes for the past three years to discuss the career industry and what we see as up and coming. I thought this would be a great opportunity to co-write a post that answers this question since I just had a client ask me this question yesterday.

You interviewed with a company and they said you are overqualified, what then?

Melissa: As the candidate hears this, they may think, “I applied – of course I am interested in this position.” You may want to let the employer know that you have wanted to work for the company and you see this as a good starting point. The employer wants to know that you do feel a commitment and a potential for future growth.

Julie: Melissa is implying that you have researched the company so I would say that you need to start there. Always do your homework to make sure you understand the company, its products, and what the future is for their industry. If you are speaking from a point of understanding what the company is all about.

Company Values

Melissa: If you can speak to how the company values match your values, you make the case as to why this would be a good mutual fit. By speaking to the corporate culture, you are better positioning yourself as someone who can be seen as part of the team already.

Julie: You might take a peek at this sample for the Operations Manager, who was seeking companies with a heart as her target market.

Downsized from the high-powered role

Melissa: For example, say a client wants to downsize from a high-powered sales position to an administrative assistant role. You can change the focus from the individual’s desire to move up wanting to be in a position using his background and skills to grow someone else’s baby. A good tactic would  be to articulate this in the cover letter to introduce the concept that this is a calculated decision.

Julie: I like that idea. The individual doesn’t talk about wanting a less stressful position or less responsibility. This is key in not making the employer think that they are getting someone who is looking to take a break from work, but rather a person who will be a contributor. You don’t want to send a message that you are lazy.

Melissa: If you think about it in terms of music, you have the flute and the clarinet who tend to play the melodies and are most prominent, but without the tubas and bassoons to provide the supporting harmonies it lacks a lot of body. In the case of someone who wants the supporting role rather than a lead role, they are just as essential and it is just as critical to have people with similar skill sets.

What do you think? Have you ever gone after a position that differed from your past history or your degree and been told you are overqualified?

Julie Walraven can help you achieve results through using a personalized job search and resume writing  strategy to take the mystery out of the process. To find out how, simply click here!

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  1. Robert E. Thompson on June 28, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing this blog… quite interesting.

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Julie Walraven

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