Interview Questions: how to answer 'Do you think you are overqualified for this position?'

By: Darren Wrigley

Chances are you’ve probably been asked this before and, yes, it’s an incredibly frustrating question. But before you decide that the interviewer is writing you off as someone who will quickly get bored with the job or expect a far higher salary than they intend offering, think again because this is not the end of the interview.

The fact that you’re even being asked if you’re overqualified actually suggests that there is a real interest in you as a potential employee – especially if you’re at second or third interview stage. After all, it was probably obvious just from reading your CV, so no employer is going to waste time interviewing candidates just for the sake of it.

With a little preparation you can turn this question around and demonstrate the benefits to the company if you are given the job, rather than purely focusing on why you want it.

  • If it’s obvious you can do the job easily, then it’s highly likely that it will impact on the company’s bottom line. Make sure the interviewer can see the sense of taking on someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and knows how to get results. And don’t forget, your performance will reflect well on those working above you – quite possibly the person interviewing you.
  • On the same theme, you’ll be able to hit the ground running far quicker than someone who is moving up the career ladder – the company is less likely to need to invest time and money in training you. Again, results will be achieved much more quickly too.
  • All your experience will mean that you can positively contribute to the team and others will learn from you – you are bringing extra skills that will further strengthen the team’s performance and, potentially, have the ability to help develop other individuals.
  • Your experience will also enable you to be much more of a self-starter without having to continually seek advice from your line manager, which will lead to improved efficiency.
  • It’s also important to show that you are serious about wanting the job as opposed to needing a job, especially if you’re not currently working. It may be that you’ve discovered that you’re happiest working at a particular level and miss working in that type of role. Or maybe it’s about the work-life balance. If your job at the moment means you are travelling and are away from home a lot and you spend little time with your family, it’s fine to talk about this if you’re being interviewed for a job that will resolve such issues – as long as you can also show that you’re genuinely interested in the role.
  • If it’s a company that’s of particular interest to you, you can discuss how keen you are to work there and share your hopes to gradually progress your career through internal opportunities – show that you will be committed and see a future with that company.

However you do decide to tackle this question, don’t fall into the trap of dumbing down and trying to pretend that you are less than you actually are. If you waste time in the interview misrepresenting your experience and achievements you won’t successfully sell yourself.

And finally, remember this: it’s not about whether you are overqualified, it’s about whether you are properly qualified for the job.

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