How to Avoid Being Perceived as Overqualified in a Job Interview
Being perceived as over qualified in your application and job interview can deter many hiring managers from offering you a lower level position. Find out why and how you can avoid being perceived this way.
How to Avoid Being Perceived as Overqualified in the Recruitment Process
As a job seeker you may be considered ‘overqualified’ for the job description you applied for, rather than the perfect candidate. Throughout your career path you may want a new job or lower-level position that is less stressful, more convenient or for a different kind of reason. Many hiring managers typically steer clear from overqualified candidates for number of reasons, so here’s how to avoid being perceived as one.
Why Being an Overqualified Applicant is an Employer Concern
There are a number of reasons as to why a potential employer may reject your job application in the recruitment process due to your higher-level skill set in comparison to other applicants. Many career experts know that in this job market and in specific industries a rejection may not always be down to the functional resume presented, but perhaps personality or experience. However many hiring managers can believe hiring an overqualified person is a bad idea, this can come down to many reasons that involves the work environment and you as an employee.
Firstly it is of many prospective employers concern that if an overqualified candidate was to be employed, what is the level of appropriate pay? Since the available position would be one of a lower level, a pay cut in comparison to previous high-level jobs is only logical. However they may worry that you would want a salary to match your experience level, and sometimes companies cannot match to a higher pay for the type of job offer.
Also, when applying for a lower level job in comparison to a past position, many hiring managers question the length of time you will stay; it can be a concern that the job is only temporary till a better offer arrives. Many companies want long term commitment rather than a temporary measure and as an overqualified candidate your skill set may not present the level of dedication wanted.
Another employer concern is the idea that someone with a greater level of experience may not like to take direction from a person who on paper is less qualified. Being in a new job at a lower level position requires an overqualified candidate to answer to people whom they previously wouldn’t have, thus it can be an easier to avoid hiring this type of candidate and reduce the risk of creating a negative business environment.
How to Avoid Being Overqualified in your Job Application
During your job search, having a job application that demonstrates your overqualified skill set may deter hiring managers from accepting you as the new hire. To avoid being distinguished from other candidates as being overqualified, there are a couple of small but significant things you can do to your job application that can help reduce this perception.
Tailor your Cover Letter
For whatever reason you may have for applying to this level position, your cover letter must express your reasoning behind the application. Discuss why you are applying for a job that is more junior than previous roles and allow them to see if the company need to be accommodating for personal reasons or understanding towards the application. You should also focus on how your experience (not all of it) will enhance your work and how they meet the job requirements. Avoid delving into your experience and qualifications that are separate from the company’s focus
Edit Your Resume
Your resume is critical to reducing the perception of having an overqualified candidate in the recruitment process; you can edit your resume to reduce this impression through little tips such as deemphasising job titles and removing irrelevant jobs from your list. You can also leave off irrelevant degrees to the field of work and remove dates to reduce being seen as an older worker wanting a more entry-level position. Try creating a functional resume, where skills are more focused on than dates, and themes help categorise your job and skill set
Answering Job Interview Questions as an Overqualified Candidate
If your application is accepted, congratulations! However this concept of being overqualified is still not over as the job interview will truly help a hiring manager to determine whether or not you should be hired despite being an overqualified candidate.
Firstly like any job interview, presentation is always important, and having a positive attitude is always an important component. As someone with a higher-level skill set, you need to be able to show your willingness to learn and grow within the company. This can verbally stated or translated in your attitude and responses when answering open-ended questions.
Enthusiasm is another aspect of your personality that a hiring manager wants to see, you can never be considered overqualified based on your enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. They may question whether you would be bored working in a lower level job and have concerns about the intended length of time, counter this by demonstrating how throughout your career you have lasted at companies for several years and believe this one will be no different.
A managing director may also question your future at the company, and possible promotions as an overqualified person. Bring this type of question back to your reasoning behind applying for a lower level job position, whilst you may look towards more in the future, you have chosen this company and job based on your specific reasons. The topic of your over-qualification may also arise during the interview, ask for specific reasons that you can tailor your responses to. Remember to never lie and to not be afraid to question the manager or recruiter in return; there is always a reason as to why each component of your resume may offer this perception.