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What if they think you're over-qualified in your job interview?

Be very wary at your job interview of the interviewers who think you are over-qualified. They may praise you but not employ you ... unless you have spoken out and convinced them that your qualifications and experience will be to their benefit.

What do you mean "over-qualified"? 

  1. You have extensive and many years of experience, which may be very relevant and desirable but you have so much of it. They are happy with 5 years and don't need 25.
  2. Your education is higher than anyone else's - they don't need someone with a PhD.
  3. You're currently earning more money than they hope to offer.
  4. They think you are too old - they may worry you are out-of-date, or won't learn quickly enough or will retire-on-the-job, i.e. not work hard.  

How will it sound in your job interview?

This is what one interviewing panel recently said to one of my job interview clients:
“We don’t often get people like yourself of your calibre applying for these positions." My client thought it was a good sign. I thought it was a bad sign. It's a double edged sword! She didn't get the job.

What to do in your job interview?

These are just some of the ways ...

  1. Mention it first and bring it into the open. 
  2. Convince them you really are passionate about doing this work.
  3. Explain how your extensive experience will be of benefit to them. It's all about them.
  4. Give a very practical reason for not minding a lower salary, (e.g. you have just paid off your mortgage or the kids have left home and don't need as much money).
  5. Give a very specific reason why you do want to work for them in comparison to other organisations. Boost their egos and show you know who they are and what they do really well. It might be out of all your experience there has been one aspect you have never had the opportunity to work with, (e.g. client group you have never worked with, piece of software never used, stakeholder group never negotiated with ...) and this job will allow you to do that. 
  6. Do not appear desperate (even if you are).
  7. Appear committed for the long term - they may worry you will disappear quickly as soon as something better comes up.

If you don't know how to explain your strengths or experience in a persuasive way then get hold of a copy of the job interviews self-coaching guide. It will show you how to analyse and explain your strengths and experience. Get it here: