How to overcome being overqualified

Have you ever gone through the interview process, felt confident that you’d performed extremely well, and then heard these dreadful words: “I’m sorry, but we feel you’re overqualified for this position.”

“Arrggh!!”

You’re not alone.


When interviewers say you are “overqualified,” here’s what they are concerned about:

(1) You’ll be bored in this position;

(2) You won’t be satisfied with the salary they’re offering;

(3) You’ll leave as soon as you get a better opportunity;

(4) They’ll have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of hiring and training someone all over again.

If you’ve been called “overqualified” during or after an interview, several negative thoughts can go through your mind…What kind of crazy excuse is that for not
hiring me? So what if I’m ‘overqualified’ — don’t employers always want to hire the person with the best qualifications?

If I’m willing to take this job, overqualified or not, why is that a problem? This isn’t fair!
What’s the real reason they don’t want to hire me?

They may or may not make you feel better about being “overqualified,” but you must admit that the civilian employer has legitimate concerns. Here are some scenarios:

Overqualified? If you look at my resume, you will see that I may have more experience than your other candidates. However, I’m excited to take this job because it would allow me to maintain my expertise in the field and I’m willing to make at least an 18 month commitment to help you with your contract. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?


I hope you’re not concerned that hiring someone with my solid experience and competencies would look like age bias if once on the job you decided you’d made a mistake and I had to go. Can I present a creative idea? Why don’t I work on a trial basis for a month — no strings — which would give you a chance to view me up close? This immediately solves your staffing problem at no risk to you. I can hit the floor running and require less supervision than a less experienced worker. When can I start?


I was a Medical Officer in the military and my role was to lead a clinical team, provide primary health care and promote health education. You may be concerned that I am overqualified because I led a team and this position is not the same level, however, I’d really like to get back to working patients.

Here are some answers to behavioural questions:

I can appreciate that you feel that way, however, I’m here because this company has earned a reputation for exemplary customer service and cutting edge technology; want to move up with you. My ______years in the have qualified me or this job and I offer immediate returns on your investment. Wouldn’t you like a winner on your team with the skills and positive attitude to fill your position? My family’s grown. And I am no longer concerned with title and salary — I like to keep busy. Teamworkis in my blood. Here’s my last performance evaluation. You’ll see that I exceed the performance ratings in teamwork and reliability. ‘m sure we can agree on a salary that fits your budget. When can we negotiate that at a mutual time? 


Salary is not my top priority. I’m retired from the military and am healthy and energetic enough to make a contribrution to your company. Rest assured that I will
work for less money and take direction from managers of any age. My military career has taught me to ” adaptable to change and dependable
when the “going gets tough.” The “freedom 55 factor” neither interests me, nor calls me at this time. Does this alleviate your concerns?

As a former Supply Technician in the Air Force, my training covered things like inventory control, warehousing techniques, shipping procedures and some aspects of budget and financial considerations. My skills and experience in the military are directly transferable to your position as a shipper and receiver?
Wouldn’t my experience be valuable to this position, especially since that I am a mature worker?

Want to share your experience of being told you were overqualified? Please email me at melissacynthiamartin@gmail.com

Need a certified coach to help you with 1:1 interview coaching? Contact me today!

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