“I recently interviewed for a job to which I was pretty severely overqualified. They asked me several questions that related to my over-qualifications and needless to say I did not answer them well and I did not get the job. How should I have answered interview questions about being overqualified?”
This is a tough one. You never want to completely minimize your qualifications because that would make you look like a bad employee, but you do not want to rave about them either because this will only serve to reinforce their belief you are overqualified. The best thing to do is to look at how to answer their questions on a case by case basis. Below are examples of how to answer some of the tougher overqualified applicant questions.
Q: What will stop you from moving on once you have found a better opportunity?
A: Every position I have applied for fits directly in line with my career path. I was attracted to your company for XYZ reasons and applied for the position for ABC reason. This is not a step down in my career path. If anything, it is directly in line with my career goals, because it places me within a company that I admire – one that does work that I would be proud to do. My goal is to grow within this company just as I grew with my previous employer.”
Q: How will you stay motivated?
A: The reason I have been able to achieve success in my career is specifically because my motivation is to do my best at the job at hand. All jobs have difficulties. All jobs require a lot of hard work. Though the work may be different, the motivation to complete the work to a high degree of quality and accuracy does not change. There is always a challenge at any occupation, and these tasks are no easier or harder than any other task I have had to complete.
Q: What are you expecting in terms of advancement?
A: I am always up for taking on new challenges. Should the department require that I take on greater responsibility based on my abilities, I will happily add that work to my daily tasks. If they do not, then I will continue to work hard at my current position.
Q: Are you comfortable taking orders from supervisors with less professional experience?
A: There is no such thing as a true leadership position. When you are an entry level employee you are delegated tasks by supervisors. When you are CEO of a major company, you are working for stockholders and investors. You are always working under someone, so it is will be no different working under a supervisor than it was working under the shareholders at my previous position.
The common theme with these answers is that rather than downplaying your experiences, you are highlighting the similarities between your previous positions and the one you are about to undertake. In many ways you are making the job you are applying for sound harder, rather than making your qualifications seem less impressive. Plan to answer questions in this manner, and you should be able to overcome the appearance of being overqualified for a role.