Being told you’re “overqualified” is one of the worst excuses you can hear when interviewing for a job. It usually means the hiring manager thinks you’ll bolt as soon as something better comes along, but there’s an easy fix: Stress your desire to work for that company doing that job to close the deal.
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Over at The Daily Muse, Megan Halpern notes that when a hiring manager tells you that you’re “overqualified”, it usually either means they think they’ll have to pay you more than they have budgeted, or that you’ll leave for a better opportunity as soon as one comes along. The best way to soothe this fear is to highlight in your interview how much you’re interested in working with that specific company, and why that specific job is a great fit for your skills.
The point is that you want to work there, and while the job you’re applying for may or may not be the perfect match, you want to stick around. Find something uniquely interesting to you about the job, and stress it. That way the hiring manager can’t walk away with the idea that you’ll just bail, since you’ve addressed it head on.
Of course, this can be difficult if you have a degree in chemistry and you’re applying to work at a department store because the market is bad, or because you need to make ends meet. If you’re in a position where any job is a good job, be upfront about it and let them know you want the job and you have no plans to leave in the near future.
She also notes that taking a pay cut is generally associated with going after a job for which you’re overqualified, so be prepared for that. Maybe you’re stepping back to a less stressful gig, or you’re trading in a high-powered career for your dream job. Either way, stress that personal focus and you won’t have to hear “overqualified” as an excuse again.