Are You Too Good For Them? How To Deal When You’re Overqualified For The Job You Want


When times are tough and you’re competing with not only people from your graduating class, but also new grads and experienced veteran workers in any given field, you’re likely to step down a few rungs on the corporate ladder in order to do things like make rent and eat. You think your wealth of experience and knowledge would make you a shoe-in for any position, but it can actually scare employers off. (Sort of like how a lot of guys are too intimidated to approach the really hot girl at the bar.)

What do you do when you’re the hot girl at the bar in a job interview? If your potential employer says that you’re overqualified, there are a few things going through his or her mind. Here’s what they are and how you can counter them to get the gig.

If your interviewer thinks you won’t use a lot of your skills in the position they’re offering:
Explain that you love what you’re doing and also are eager to mentor and help those around, under and even above you to reach their full potential and expand their own skill sets. You’ll show that you’re a team player.

If your interviewer thinks you’ll bounce if you don’t get a promotion within a certain amount of time:
Let them know that the job, not the job title, is what matters to you, and explain why you’re passionate about the work itself–not the position.

If your interviewer thinks you’ll get bored easily:
Give examples of how you kept yourself stimulated and challenged in past positions. For example, if I were being interviewed for a gig at Rolling Stone, I may let them know, “I found a way to include a reference to not wearing pants in every post I wrote at The Grindstone. Also, justifying putting a terrorist on a magazine cover to look like a rockstar doesn’t sound easy, either.” Oh look, I did it again!

Other important tips:

Don’t dumb yourself down.
You’re not going to get any job by underselling yourself.

Show that you’ve stuck it out before.
If your resume shows that you’ve stuck at positions for long periods before, point that out and emphasize it–and explain why you stayed. (But note that “I had no other choice” or “I didn’t have to wear pants” may not be the best reasons.)

Don’t look desperate.
You wouldn’t tell a guy on a first date, “I’ll go out with anyone to not be alone!” Similarly, avoid telling a potential employer that you’ll take whatever job you can get to get your foot in the door. They want someone who wants to be there and do the job itself, not someone who’s thirsty for connections and will look elsewhere as soon as they get an offer. They want to know you want this job. Let them know that’s the case and why: “The Grindstone lets me appeal to an adult audience while making references to not wearing pants, so I’m the perfect fit.”

Now get out there and get hired!

Photo: ShutterStock

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    • Sue

      LOVED the no pants references in all the articles I read. Actually laughed out loud, job well done.

      • jess sager

        Thank YOU ma’am!

    • Steven

      I was called to come to a interview – wow I am a respondent not a despondent. To be polite I am to sit there and say nothing until spoken to – if I should say some thing, or to better my situation – I should, if I knew what to do..

      If I asked what the job was, they often do not tell. I am not there to presume and pretend that I can read their mind, to influence their option of me – I just applied to some companies that had no listing for a job, that called just to see me.

      Why would a person call me up, then I show up for the interview – they had a reason for calling me. Just to stare at the paper for several minutes, before leaving, yet I can understand why – the paper is the information, yet its not that long, everything was there in print before they called me – yet if we discussed something, it was not to tell me what the job was, regardless of how polite I was, to find what I needed to know – did they just want to prove I did or did not exist, yet that was the surprise, I wondered about for a moment.

      After that, they called to tell me: “I never told you your getting the job” – I never said I did, yet the next day they told were to report for work.