We often hear advice on overcoming the feeling that we are not qualified enough or good enough for the job that we’re interviewing for – but what happens when you feel overqualified for the job?
Being labelled as “overqualified” is a problem that you can face at any point in your professional career. A candidate is considered as overqualified in situations where their background-education, experience, or previous title or salary-is well beyond what the specified job requires.
Why is being overqualified problematic?
An overqualified applicant may cause hiring managers to question why you’re willing to take on a position that could be considered a step down, and wonder whether you’ll jump ship as soon as a better opportunity comes along. Companies and hiring managers want to avoid investing in hiring and training someone who isn’t dedicated to sticking around long-term.
Being overqualified might also lead an employer to assume that you’re out of their price range.
However, there are ways to prove to hiring managers that you’re genuinely interested in the position and that your advanced skills could serve as a great asset to the company.
Be Honest With Yourself
Ask yourself why you’re applying for a position that’s below your skill level in first place. Many people apply to jobs below their skill level out of financial necessity. In which case, you should always ensure that the industry and company that you are applying to is one that you would apply to under any circumstances.
Some mid-career professionals take entry-level positions in order to make a career change, as sometimes the only way to get into a new company or new field is to start at the bottom and work your way up.
Once you understand your reasons for applying for a certain position, you will have a much easier time convincing your hiring managers that you’re serious about the position.
Focus on Your Skills
Format your resume to focus on your relevant skills and accomplishments first and your professional background second. Putting more of an emphasis on your skills and responsibilities than your previous job titles or education can draw your interviewee’s attention to the fact that you may be more efficient than your competition in the position rather than the fact that you have more extensive experience.
Show Your Worth
Use your cover letter to your advantage and distil any doubt about your seriousness in your application for the position. In your cover letter you can be open and honest about your extensive background, but follow it up by explaining why you’re interested in the position.
Once you’ve explained your position, describe how your skills make you valuable. Any hiring manager will have a hard time turning you down if you present concrete ways in which you could be an asset to the company.
Flip the Script
Be prepared for the possibility that your interviewer will ask whether you think you’re overqualified. The best response is to turn the question around – ask your interviewer what their ideal candidate looks like and what the expectations of the role would be, and show them how you fit that description and will be able to exceed expectations.
The best course of action to take in any situation where you may find yourself overqualified for a position is to remain honest – both with yourself and your interviewee; and to highlight the many ways in which you could be an asset to the company. If you’re ever unsure on how to proceed, get in touch with your recruiting expert for advice.
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