After getting through an interview, feeling like you’ve done great, knowing that the position is right for you, and thinking you’ll be the company’s choice, hearing the dreaded phrase, “I’m afraid you’re overqualified”, can be like a punch in the stomach.
What can you say to that – “no, trust me I’m “underqualified’, really I am – probably not a good response! Or how about, ala Goldilocks, I’m “just right” qualified”. Once someone has deemed you overqualified there isn’t really a response that’s going to change the outcome – you didn’t get the position. But like any experience, this is one you can learn from.
According to Bonnie Lowe at www.Best-Interview-Strategies.com what you shouldn’t do is dumb down your resume in order not to appear overqualified. That’s going to backfire on you. What you should do is address the overqualified issue head-on. You can do that in your cover letter (if you submit one), or during the interview just put it all on the table.
Ms. Lowe suggests telling them things like “I’ve always wanted to work for your company [or in this industry], and I’m willing to take a lower-level position to get that opportunity.” Or, “The salary is not my top priority. I’d have no problem with earning less than I’ve earned in the past.” Of course, only say these things if you truly mean them. She even suggests agreeing to sign a contract that says you will stay in the position for 12 months to let them know how serious you are about your commitment to the company. That may be a little extreme, but if it’s a position you really want, it might show the employer how serious you are about staying put. And even if they don’t take you up on it, it will make an impression on the hiring manager.
In this economy, I suspect there are lots of us “overqualified” folks out there looking for jobs. And the reality is, some of us are not going to be hired at our past salary levels. But if we find an opportunity we really want to go after, we have to show those hiring managers that it may not be a bad thing to have a few of us overqualified people in their organization. If we truly are overqualified, then our job performance should be above and beyond what the usual expectations are from someone in the position.
So on that note I say – Go forth and make all of us that are overqualified proud!