Job Interview Tips for the Overqualified Candidate: Learn to Use the "Overqualified" Label to Your Advantage

Job Interview Tips for the Overqualified Candidate: Learn to Use the "Overqualified" Label to Your Advantage
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Overqualified? What Should You Do in Your Interview?

There are a variety of reasons why you might be labeled as being “overqualified.” Maybe you have a lot of experience, a professional or graduate degree, or are older than your prospective colleagues. Whatever the situation is, if you’ve been labeled as being “overqualified,” there are steps you can take to offset this label during the interview process. Make sure, before even going to the interview that you don’t come off as seeming like a person that will take any job just to have a job! Desperation in the job hunt, like in dating, is off-putting.

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1. Understand Why the Interviewer May Be Concerned

Interviewers often worry that you’re taking the job because you’re desperate. After that worry, they worry that you will be bored in a job you are overqualified for, that you will lack relevant experience if you have a graduate degree, or that you will leave as soon as something better comes your way. Companies also worry about the overqualified candidates requesting a salary they cannot afford to pay. By understanding why the interviewer is concerned, you can answer his or her concerns.

2. Reassure the Interviewer of Your Interest in the Company

One way to quell nagging concerns of the interviewer is to reassure him or her of why it is that you are interested in working for the company. During the interview, be sure to continuously be enthusiastic about the job and give your reasons for being interested in the position.

3. Pause Before Responding

Sometimes accusations of being overqualified for a position can stop you in your tracks. Before responding to this, take a moment. You may even want to ask the interviewer what he means by “overqualified” and why it is that he is concerned about this label for this position. Never blurt out the first thing that pops into your mind, this can be a huge interview mistake.

4. Focus on Your Skills Rather than Your Resume Titles

You may have been a department manager, or the principal of a school - if you’re changing careers, these titles are going to matter little, and they can even get in the way of you showcasing what you really want the interviewer to focus on. By focusing on your skills and how you solve problems, you can help calm the interviewer’s concerns.

5. Demonstrate the Edge You Have with Experience and Education

Rather than always being a minus, experience and education can give you tools for solving problems or thinking creatively in new situations that your competitors will not have. Show the interviewer how your experience gives you the edge.

6. Reassure the Interviewer that You’re a Team Player

Sometimes companies worry that those who are overqualfiied will not play well with others in a team environment. Take time to reassure the person conducting the interview that you can work well in a team environment, and highlight the assets you will bring to team membership.

7. Be Flexible When it Comes to Salary

This is an important job interview tip for the overqualified candidate as well as for anyone looking for a job. Be conservative with your expectations when it comes to salary. Don’t bring this up unless you are asked, and when asked, maintain that you are flexible or that the salary can be negotiated.

8. Show How You Will Benefit the Whole Office

Many companies worry about office culture. No matter who your coworkers will be, it is important that you can add something to their experience. Point out that your education, experience, or age is a benefit to others you will work with, in that you can mentor other workers.

9. Demonstrate Your Commitment to the Company

Remember how I mentioned that the fear of headhunting or a short stay can cause an interviewer to refuse to take you seriously? Find a way to show that you are willing to be committed to the job - either through signing a contract or through your actions.

10. Do Your Research Before the Interview

Finally, as with any job interview, you should research the company before the interview. Take time to demonstrate during your interview that you know about the company. By demonstrating company knowledge, you can help reassure the interviewer that you took the time to actually find out about the place you applied for work at (and help kill the instinct to believe that you are applying for the job out of desperation).