Overcoming the Specter of Being “Overqualified”

The feedback, “you’re overqualified”, is a frequent response to highly qualified candidates for positions that may be a step down from prior work assignments, particularly for accomplished older workers in times of company and industry restructuring.  Being prepared to address these issues in advance of applying for a position as well as interviews, even the screening (often by phone) interview.

I came across this article and found it covered most of the concerns employers have.  My marginal comments I trust will help you think through and prepare your written application materials as well as interview responses and questions.

One phrase I have coached 100’s of people to use in hearing “you’re overqualified” that you may find useful is “please help me understand….” to probe interviewers’ concerns.  That is, “please help me understand what it is about my being ‘overqualified’ as a candidate that concerns you.”  This can help you get at what the ‘hidden’ concern really is.  A worksheet is provided in this section of the EaRN website’s Articles that can further assist you in thinking through and addressing their concerns.  The employers’ concerns are real, even though exasperating to job seekers, and you must be prepared to address these objections to considering you directly, pleasantly and assertively.

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