Education Career Services

March 11, 2010

The Catch 22 of “Over Qualified”

Between graduating students and retiring-executives-who-aren’t-retiring, not to mention other professionals suddenly finding themselves looking for work, experienced candidates are hearing that dreaded word a lot these days: “over-qualified.”

From an employer’s perspective, seasoned professionals might not be challenged by the open position and therefore leave as soon as they are able.  In some cases, the hiring manager may fear for their own job if they hire a team member who can do their job as well as they can… or even better.

If you hear that concern during the interview, it’s tempting to lay it on the table, “right now I need to pay the bills so I’ll consider any job at the moment!”  That declaration doesn’t allay their fears, however, and may make them worse (you just confirmed you’re looking for something better).

Once again, the answer is to identify their concerns and offer a solution.  “Due to the present economy, companies are getting a lot for their investment; you’re in a position to acquire talent at a great price.  I accept that and intend to provide greater value than a less qualified employee.”

Also make it clear during the interview that you know the key to success is “making my manager great.”  If the hiring manager knows 1) you’re on his or her side, and 2) by bringing you in to the company, he or she will be recognized as bringing in a winner, you effectively negate that concern.

Should the specter of “over qualification” still hovers over the interview, confront the issue, “It seems my qualifications concern you; what do you perceive as the problem?”  Then help them find the solution.  Would signing a year-long commitment help land the job?  Show your value by help them over that hurdle.

In anticipation of that concern, now is actually a good time to transition to a new industry.  “I understand you’re trepidation of hiring someone accustomed to making more money, but in this role I’m looking for more than just a paycheck.  Not only could I be an asset to your company, I’ll receive an education as valuable to me as money.”

Another strategy to dealing with this is to request an interview early in the interview schedule.  Relating your value and bringing up deeper aspects than a less experienced candidate could, you’ll raise interviewer expectations for following candidates.

Like with any objection, you need to find the logic behind the fear to overcome it.  Let’s face it, if you really are over-qualified, you have the experience to conquer the hiring manager’s concerns.  In fact, you may come to welcome that issue once you’re prepared for it.  If you had a choice between a sports car and a bicycle, which would you choose?

Thank you Robert for the great article.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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