Experienced candidates have the challenge of appearing qualified but not over-qualified for the jobs that they pursue. The interview question "Aren't you over-qualified?" may not come directly but it is something that the interview is thinking about. Here is what you need to know to answer this tough job interview question the right way.

Why the Question is Asked

The question "Aren't you overqualified for this job?" can be asked for a number of reasons in your interview.  Some of these reasons include the following:

  • The interviewer may be concerned that you will become bored with the position quickly since it does not present much of a challenge.
  • They may think that you will move on as soon as a better opportunity comes along.
  • The interviewer could be worried about how you will get along with the other employees who have less experience than you.
  • They may think that you will expect more pay than they are willing to offer.
  • They are concerned that you are only looking for A job - not THIS job.

Thinking about the motivations for asking you this question is key to preparing your best answer for this job interview. Being clear in that answer to address whatever those motivations maybe are the key to your interview preparation.

Tips

Preparing your answer to the question "Aren't you over-qualified for this job? is an essential part of any job interview preparation. Below are the tips to help you craft the best answer for this challenging job interview question.

Answer the Question

Any response to a job interview question must directly answer the question that you are asked. This means making sure that you have an actual answer to this very direct interview question.  This is not the time to try and be funny or coy. The best way to do this is to first take a deep breath and then launch into your response. Be confident, direct, and honest in your answer.

Be Honest

The best answers to a job interview question are those that are honest. If you are overqualified for the job, then you need to address that clearly.  The good news is that there are a number of ways to do this without sounding arrogant.

One way to do this is by stressing that you are looking for a particular type of opportunity. This could be an organization that you admire, a position that offers more responsibility, or a job that is closer to your home.

You can also talk about how the job offers an opportunity to learn new things or to apply your skills in a new way.  This is a great answer if you are looking for a career change. You can talk about how excited you are to learn more about the industry or the company's products.

Another honest answer is to simply state that you want a chance to prove yourself to the organization and that you see this as a way to get your foot in the door. Stress how you have worked your way up in the past and that you are willing to fit in wherever this organization sees that you fit best. You can't know what level is right for you as an outsider, but you can be honest in saying that you are happy to fit in wherever they think is best based on your skills.

Keep it Short

When answering a job interview question, you always want to keep your answer short and sweet. This is especially true when you are asked a difficult question like "Aren't you overqualified for this job?"  You do not want to launch into a long-winded explanation of your entire career. The interviewer does not want to hear your life story. They want a direct answer to their question.

So, take a deep breath and then give them a short and sweet answer that directly answers their question. Be confident and be yourself and you will do just fine. A few examples of such answers are as follows:

  • "I see this job as an opportunity to learn new things and to apply my skills in a new way."
  • "I want a chance to prove myself to the organization and that I see this as a way to get my foot in the door."
  • "I am excited about the opportunity to learn more about the industry or the company's products."
  • "I don't know if I am overqualified for this position. I believe that my strengths and experiences bring a lot to the table. And, I am happy to fit in wherever you think is best based on my skills."

Use Positive Language

When answering a job interview question, you always want to use positive language. This means using words like "excited," "opportunity," and "chance" instead of words like "problem,"  "concern," or "worry.

This also means talking about the future rather than the past. It may be obvious that you shouldn't talk negatively about your current or past work history. But, keeping things focused on the future is the easiest way to appear forward-thinking and avoid looking overqualified.

Staying positive and using positive language shows that you are confident and that you believe in yourself. It also shows that you are looking for the best in the situation. This is an attractive quality in any new potential team member or leader or the company that is interviewing you.

Apply Strategy

Do your research about who is interviewing you before you get into the job interview. If you are more qualified than that person, remember that they may view you as a threat if you do join the organization. You may have no intention of being their competition, but some people don't want to bring on any challenges. So, the best preparation is building answers that prevent you from ever appearing like a threat.

The best way to do this is to acknowledge your skills and qualifications, but not to lean on them exclusively in your examples. Focusing too much on your qualifications or education that the interviewing doesn't have can only serve to remind them that you are more qualified than they are. Instead, plan to use a wide range of examples to illustrate your skills.

If the job you are interviewing for is a step down from where you are currently or have been in the past, then make sure not to use the examples as a leader. Focusing on your experience at a higher level can also only serve to remind the person that you are more qualified than what is needed for the open position. If you need to use those examples to actually answer a question, then make sure you do so with strategy and talk about what you want to do next or how you can apply that knowledge if given the chance for the job that you are now interviewing for.

Provide Your Motivation for Interest in the Job

Including a clear explanation as to why you want this job at this company takes a good answer to a great answer to the question "Aren't you overqualified for this job?" Articulating why you want the job with your explanation that you can do this job will show the interviewer who you are as a professional.

It can also be a great way to showcase your research about the company or your prior experience working with the organization. Whatever your answer may be, make sure that you provide it as part of your answer. This will enable the interviewer to connect with you as a person and to see that you will want to stay in the role if hired.

Don't Dismiss the Question

The interviewer may be getting at something else with the question "Aren't you overqualified for this job?" It is important to not just answer the question but also to address any underlying concerns. If you are able to do this, then you will be in a much better position to get hired for the job.

Taking the question seriously also shows what it is like to work with you. You may not agree with something, but you have to address it. This happens all the time when working with people. So, take the question seriously and provide a real answer while also showing your interpersonal communication skills.

Use the question as an opportunity to show why you are the best candidate for the job. Remember that you are more than your qualifications on paper. You are also a person with experiences, skills, and qualities that make you shine in an interview. Use this question to show all of those things off and you will be sure to land the job.


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