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Least Favorite Job Search Phase
Overqualified Overture Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

Last week on our Career Wake Up Call, a job seeker asked me what to do when someone calls you "overqualified" during an interview. In a weird way, this can actually be a blessing in disguise.

How many times after an interview do you feel like you hit the ball out of the park only to receive a rejection letter in the mail? In how many of those cases do you wish that you knew the reason why someone wasn't interested in hiring you? My guess is that it's 100% of the time.

The fact is that these days, the majority of recruiters are reluctant to provide ANY feedback about why you didn't get the job, unless it's because someone was promoted or transferred into it or unless the position was put on hold. It's difficult to provide honest feedback for a variety of reasons, so companies shy away from it.

When someone actually tells you the reason why they are not interested during an interview, you should start jumping up and down for joy (figuratively please…not literally). This is your chance to celebrate because NOW you have a chance to overcome their objection. It's sales 101. You can only overcome something you know about.

After you have regained your composure from the excitement of being called overqualified, now it's time to tell them why they are COMPLETELY WRONG about your "overqualifiedness". This is of course assuming that they are, in fact, wrong.

Think about it for a moment. If you were hiring someone, would you want to hire a person who would be challenged by the responsibilities of your open position or bored by them in 3 months? Would you want to hire someone who could grow in the job or someone who might resign in a few months when the economy had a better offer in store? These are silly questions, but I ask them to make a point.

It is your job to know why you are interviewing for this role. You know if you are overqualified before you walk in the door – you don't need someone to tell you that. If you are honestly considering the position because you are looking for a lower level job with less pressure, that is a GREAT reason and you should explain it in detail to your interviewer. If this is not your reason, try to find another great reason for your interest.

Some recruiters believe that you should tackle your "overqualifiedness" even before the interviewer brings it up. Remind them that overqualified means that you will accomplish more work in less time and that the training curve will be shorter. Explain how perfectly your skills match their job description. Remind them of your specific accomplishments and how loyal you have been to past employers. Stress your up-to-date technology skills. Most of all, show your passion for the job, the company and the industry.

Everything I've suggested above assumes that you want this position because you believe that you could truly be a value to the company in this role. However, if you are interviewing for a position beneath your skill level simply because you need the job, your interviewer might see right through your words and body language.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Being called "overqualified" during a job interview is an objection that you can learn to overcome. Be thankful for this constructive comment from your interviewer. But, do take time to consider if the position you are applying for will in fact be one that you'll be passionate about and enjoy doing for a long time to come.
  • Tired of all the rejection? If you're interested in learning the Absolute truth about why you're struggling, sign up for a one hour "Capture a Recruiter" phone session today. Reach out to me today with any questions and for an absolutely amazing discount coupon!

Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!