What do you do or say when a hiring influencer says they think you’re overqualified for the job during your interview? The first thing to do is stay calm and professional. The discussion isn’t over; your interviewer is simply telling you they aren’t seeing the right fit. The ball is now in your court to emphasize the ways in which you do fit the position and the organization.
- Don’t show desperation. No matter how much you need the job, your need doesn’t speak to the hiring influencer’s concern that you’ll become bored in the position or you’ll expect a promotion on a faster track than is comfortable for the organization.
- Don’t react emotionally. The observation that you seem overqualified isn’t a personal attack, or the end of the conversation. It’s the opening line to a discussion of whether you’re a good fit for the job…that should be your first concern, too!
- Don’t give up! This isn’t the end of the conversation: It’s the beginning of a negotiation.
- Stay calm and engaged with the interviewer. Stating that they think you’re overqualified means you have great skills, this is a positive. Keep your voice and your body language relaxed and interested. A career coach can help you prepare for this question.
- Consider the possibility. Are you overqualified? Will you get bored or impatient doing this job? If it’s really not a great fit, acknowledge the hiring influencer’s wisdom at spotting the mismatch, end the interview, and thank them for their time. You don’t just need any job, you need a great fit. If the job isn’t, move on.
- Discuss why you’re a great fit. Ok, so you might be overqualified, but you still want the job. Despite having more experience or skills than the job requires, what makes you the right person? Because it has less travel? Because this job will keep you doing what you most enjoy (instead of managing the managers, or moving up to a less enjoyable fit). Or perhaps there’s something important about the organization itself as well as the job that makes you want to be a part of the team. If you know you may be overqualified going in, be ready to point out the reasons the job is a great fit for you.
- Acknowledge the worries. Have you managed an overqualified person who was a self-important, difficult employee? Do you have experience with an overqualified employee who settled into the team and not only did the job, but supported and encouraged other team members to exceed expectations? Speak to the concerns of hiring someone who could be a disappointing detriment or add exceptional value. Show the interviewer why you would work to be the exceptional value.
- Show appreciation. Both you and the interviewer are looking for the best fit possible. Assure them that you are looking for a job where you can succeed for the long-term, and you are applying thoughtfully and deliberately for a position you feel you truly want to do. Thank them for bringing up their concerns.