At first glance, it’s easy to think that being overqualified for a job might be a good thing. After all, is there anything better than feeling confident and self-assured?
But, there are some obvious signs that a job would be a step back for you—such as desired experience, role expectations, organizational structure, and more. But sometimes it’s not quite as obvious that you may be overqualified for a job.
Whether you’re deciding if you want to apply, or are feeling uncertain in the middle of the interview process, here’s what you should look for, and how to handle your overqualifications in a job interview.
6 Signs You May Be Overqualified for a Job
1. You Meet (or Exceed) Every Requirement in the Job Description
When you take another look at that posted job description, you notice that—sure enough—you easily check every single box that the employer is looking for. Depending on your career path, this could be a great fit for you. If, however, you’re looking to move up the career ladder, the role may not present you with the challenges that are needed to continue your growth. This shouldn’t deter you from applying, but is something to keep in mind moving forward.
2. You Applied for the Job Just to Get in With the Company
You’re desperate to gain an “in” with your dream company, so you tell yourself that you’re willing to settle.
In some cases, this can be a decent strategy, as long as you don’t dip significantly below your qualifications for the sake of gaining entry.
While getting into that company is a definite win, there needs to be some other redeeming and relevant aspect of the job that you can identify—aside from the logo. You’ll want to make sure that you won’t get bored and would be satisfied at the pay rate.
3. You’d Be the Most Experienced Person in That Role—By Far
There’s nothing wrong with being the most experienced one in a specific role or department. But, if you surpass everybody else by a long shot, it could indicate that you’ll quickly feel like the role is beneath you. That said, carefully evaluate your career goals. If you’ve “leaned out” and are no longer in career growth mode, then this may not be a bad thing at all.
4. You Make a Lot More Money and Have More Responsibility in Your Current Job
Unless you’re intentionally trying to take a step back, or you’re changing career paths or industries, most professional moves you make should be a lateral move or a step up the ladder.
If the role would be a step down in terms of pay or amount of responsibility, chances are, you’re overqualified for the job.
5. You Breezed Through the Take-Home Assignment
Occasionally, employers will offer some sort of take-home assignment or project during the interview process. It’s meant to give them a feel for how you operate and what it would be like working with you.
While those sorts of tasks shouldn’t necessarily stump you or have you tearing your hair out, they should require some thought, concentration, and elbow grease.
If you’re able to breeze your way through the assignment with hardly any effort, that could likely mean that the daily responsibilities of the role won’t keep you engaged and interested.
6. You Answered All of the Questions With Ease
You’ve already been through the phone screening—or maybe even a first-round interview. You anticipated being challenged by a few of the questions. But, instead, you were able to answer all of them head-on with zero hesitation.
Acing an interview is a great feeling. However, it’s important to stop and reflect on that conversation. Were there times when you were explaining a concept or problem, only to have your interviewer or the hiring manager tell you what a great idea that was—or that they had never thought of things that way before?
Feeling confident in a new role is one thing. But, you want to make sure that you’ll also find yourself in a work environment where you can learn from the people you work with, rather than constantly teaching them.
How to Handle Being Overqualified in a Job Interview
You’ve analyzed these six indicators, and you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re overqualified for the job. Now what?
Ultimately, there’s no black-and-white answer here—it really depends on personal preference and your unique circumstances. Being overqualified is just fine if you need to focus on things in your life other than work, like your family. If this is the case, then mentioning your intentions in your cover letter can explain to potential employers your reasoning for wanting to take a step back.
If you’re seriously considering the role only because you’re sick of spending so much time on your job search, though, it’s probably better to tough it out and find something that’s better suited to your skills and experience. But if the position still sounds intriguing and fun to you, despite the fact that you might be overqualified, there’s no harm in applying and seeing where it takes you.
Contrary to popular belief, being overqualified for a job is not always a bad thing. If you’re still interested in the opening, here’s how to handle being overqualified for a job in an interview.
Admit Your Concern
You might think it’s better to avoid the topic of you being overqualified in a job interview. The thing is, if you’ve realized that you’re overqualified, chances are that the person interviewing you has, too. Pretending that it isn’t an issue could be construed negatively by your potential employer, so it’s best to address it during the job interview so long as you’re humble and professional.
Focus On Your Accomplishments
Upon realizing that you are overqualified for the job, you may want to downplay your strong skill set. In fact, you should do the opposite. When you are vying for any job, your main objective should be to show how you are a perfect match for the position. The only way you’re going to sway a hiring manager into considering you for the job is to show how your skills and past work experiences make you an asset to the company.
So bring up your skills and strengths and show how they relate to the job at hand.
Express Your Interest in Learning
A hiring manager might be reticent to consider you for a job because they may feel that you’re going to get bored in the position. So it’s up to you to show that there are indeed aspects of the job that will be new to you—and that you are very interested in. You can stress your interest in learning about the company’s culture or that you’re intrigued by where they are headed in the future and that you want to be a part of it. By being interested in the company, you’ll show that you’re eager to learn (and grow in) your new position.
Offer a Commitment
Another deterrent to hiring an overqualified job candidate is the fear that they’ll jump ship after a few months. Calm your potential boss’ fears by offering a firm commitment should you be offered the job. Let them know that you are interested in the job and would love to stay with the company.
Don’t Talk Dollars
Your prospective boss might want to cut the interview short once they realize that you’re overqualified for the job and possibly out of their pay range. Beat them to the punch and express that you are flexible regarding your salary. Let them know that while money (and happiness) are important to you, you also hope to find personal satisfaction in this new position for years to come. Also, it’s important to be realistic when it comes to salary. If you’re overqualified for a position, don’t expect to be paid higher just because of your qualifications—most companies will have to keep the pay within what’s allowed for that level of job.
Find the Perfect Fit
Once you know you’re overqualified for a job, it’s up to you to decide how you want to move forward. Again, it might be a good thing considering the other aspects of your life.
If you’re looking for job opportunities, FlexJobs can help in your search. We offer our subscribers flexible and remote jobs in more than 50 career categories. Take the tour today and learn how FlexJobs can help you move up, down, or across the career ladder.