Proven Strategies for Selling Yourself to an Interviewer When You’re Overqualified

Proven Strategies for Selling Yourself to an Interviewer When You’re Overqualified

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Nothing is more frustrating than missing a job opportunity due to being overqualified.

Why wouldn’t a company want to hire you if you are interested in the job and more than qualified for all of the requirements and responsibilities?

What Does “Overqualified” Really Mean?

The hard truth is that there is no such thing as overqualification.

Any company would love to hire a highly competent candidate to fill an open position. However, organizations have a lot of costs associated with training and onboarding new team members, and they see too much risk in an “overqualified” candidate to justify those costs.

When a candidate is rejected for a position due to being “overqualified,” here is what they mean:

  • You don’t want the job but rather an opportunity to interview at that organization
  • You would leave that position as soon as something at your experience level becomes available
  • You would never find any job satisfaction in the role
  • You’d be too expensive to fill that position
  • You would be too challenging to manage
  • You wouldn’t be satisfied with growth opportunities at the organization

Essentially, companies are concerned that candidates with high levels of experience and qualifications will not be a long-term solution if they would be eligible for a better job elsewhere.

How to Overcome the “Overqualified” Objection

It is possible to convince a hiring manager that you are still a good fit for the position if you are intent on securing a job but fear that your application may be rejected because of your extensive experience or high qualifications.

  • Be Honest & Explain Why You Want The Job

A hiring manager will become suspicious of an applicant if there is an apparent disconnect between the candidate’s qualification level and the open position they seek to fill. This is particularly true when a professional is making a lateral move into a new industry or stepping down to a job with less responsibility.

There are many valid personal reasons for anyone to change their career path, whether it’s stress, health, moving to a new city, or any other reason. However, the important step in an interview process is communicating these reasons to your hiring manager; otherwise, they will come to their conclusions, which may cost you the job.

  • Be Enthusiastic

One authentic way to convince a hiring manager that you are not overqualified is to show genuine enthusiasm for the job. If you are switching industries or stepping down in your career, let them know why and where your passion for the job comes from. This will help them understand that you are not there to fill a gap simply but rather to pursue a new direction in your career.

Here are some tips to help demonstrate enthusiasm in an interview:

  • Ask inquisitive questions
  • Be aware of your tone & attitude
  • Express your excitement or interest verbally
  • Maintain positive body language and eye contact


  • Address Overqualification Head On

If you sense that you may be overqualified for a position, then it’s likely the hiring manager has noticed this as well.

The best way to address it is to be upfront in the interview and openly discuss any potential issues with your experience versus the qualifications of the job.

This also becomes an opportunity to express how your skills and experience can bring more success to the role and the organization. You may also want to express a commitment to the role or provide some sense of your future career plans to help ease the hiring managers concerns.

  • Be Ready To Sacrifice Salary

The main concern for hiring managers is that an overqualified candidate will simply cost too much to hire.

If you leave salary discussion out of the interview process, this could be a fear that causes them to pass over you as a candidate.

If you want to ease their concerns, it is best to admit that you are flexible regarding salary expectations and understand that a lower-skilled position will not pay as much as a higher-level position.

Not sure which way is the best path forward in your career path?

Speak to an Ivy Exec Coach for some guidance!


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Ivy Exec

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