A man telling a candidate he is Overqualified for the job

Overqualified for a job? Do This…

You are just about concluding the interview. It has been exciting to go through the recruitment process. The manager looks concerned and then says…

Aren’t you overqualified for this job? 

You get uneasy, lose words, and feel you have lost your chance.

The truth of the matter is most overqualified candidates struggle to get jobs.

Recruiters tend to refrain from hiring overqualified candidates for several reasons.

I will not spill them now but a bit later.

In this post, we will look at what it means to be overqualified and how you can go about it. 

table of contents for being overqualified for a job

What does being overqualified for a job mean?

Being overqualified for a job means that you have more experience, skills, and qualifications than needed for the job.

In layman, it would mean you are too good to do the job or that you are more capable than is required.

For instance, if a job needs a person with 3 years of experience but you have 7 years or 10, then you are overqualified.

How Do You Know You Are Overqualified For A Job?

It may sound cliche, but sometimes one may fail to note that they are overqualified.

When applying for a job, you must keenly go through the job advert. 

Carefully analyze the job description and requirements. Compare them with your skills, experience, and abilities.

Figuring out if you’re overqualified for a job is pretty straightforward. 

Here are some signs to look out for:

Too Much Experience 

If you have way more experience than the job asks for, like if they want three years but you’ve got seven or ten, you might be overqualified.

Skills Overload

Check if you’ve got skills that go beyond what the job needs. If you’re bringing a lot more to the table than the job requires, it could mean you’re overqualified.

Education Overkill

Education overkill can lead to overqualification, where an individual possesses qualifications, skills, or knowledge that exceed the requirements of the job they are seeking.

Think about whether your education level is higher than what’s needed. If you’ve got degrees or certifications that aren’t necessary for the job, you might be overqualified.

Salary Mismatch

Consider if the salary matches your qualifications. If the pay seems too low for what you bring to the role, you could be overqualified.

Job Duties Too Easy

If the tasks seem too easy given your experience, you might be overqualified.

Not Enough Growth

Look at whether the job offers room for growth that matches your ambitions. If it doesn’t, you might be overqualified.

Interview Feedback

Pay attention to what interviewers say. If they seem unsure about your fit due to your qualifications, it’s a sign you might be overqualified.

By thinking about these things, you can figure out if you’re overqualified for a job. 

Recognizing it early on helps you make smart choices about which opportunities to pursue based on your skills and career goals.

I might have mentioned that recruiters and hiring managers shy away from hiring overqualified candidates.

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Reasons Why Recruiter Reject Overqualified Candidates

High Turnover

One of the main reasons why recruiters avoid hiring qualified candidates is high turnover. 

A more qualified candidate might not be satisfied with the job. 

They may always be on the lookout for better opportunities that meet their requirements best. 

This will mean that they will leave as soon as a new opportunity comes up.

Hiring is an expensive affair, no company wants to keep hiring because a recent hire left.


One thing that may worry the recruiter is that the overqualified candidate will not find the new job challenging enough. 

I mean, they already know what to do, so they will not be learning anything new.

When this happens they will not be excited as they have nothing to look forward to. 

One of the main reasons people look for new opportunities is to get new responsibilities. So when a role fails to meet that you may not feel motivated enough.

Boredom will eventually lead to them leaving or lacking motivation and morale.

High salary expectations

Having a lot of experience sometimes translates to a high salary

But it’s because, with a lot of experience and skills, you will bring a lot of value to the company. 

So when interviewing an overqualified candidate a recruiter may be concerned about the salary the interviewee may ask for. 

No one will move from a high-paying job to a low one naturally unless other reasons are motivating them to do so.

Salaries depend on the level of the role, so if you are an executive applying to an entry-level role you may feel that you are not being compensated enough regarding what you have to offer.

The recruiter may not have the flexibility to go over the budget, so the easiest option is to avoid hiring you.

You Are “Too Old”

Sounds harsh, I know but, it is a reason.

Having worked for a certain number of years may have people thinking that you have been in the industry for a long time.

There might be a stereotype that older individuals are less adaptable to new technologies, processes, or ways of working, which could lead employers to prefer younger candidates who are perceived as more tech-savvy or flexible.

It is wrong to discriminate against people based on age but biases may happen subconsciously.

Conflicts may arise

When someone is overqualified for a job but has a supervisor who knows less about the work, problems can happen. 

The overqualified person might feel upset because they’re not being used to their full potential. 

The supervisor might feel unsure and try to control too much. This can make the overqualified person feel annoyed. 

Also, it might be hard for them to talk to each other because they see things differently. 

The overqualified person might find the work too easy and get bored, which can make the supervisor think they’re not trying hard enough. 

Sometimes, the supervisor might feel jealous or worried about their position. This can lead to arguments about what to do or how to do it.

 To fix these problems, they need to talk openly, understand each other, and respect each other’s skills.

How Do You Handle Being Overqualified In An Interview?

Attending an interview while being overqualified may be challenging, but you can find a way to express yourself and convince the recruiter to consider you.

Feeling overqualified, Do this…

Address Your Experience.

This will be a concern for the hiring manager.

But it does not have to mean that you can’t get the job. You need to be honest and talk about your experience. 

In the interview, acknowledge that you may be overqualified, but express genuine interest in the job and company. 

Show how your skills match the role’s requirements and assure them of your commitment. Be flexible and ask questions to show engagement.

Let them know you’re eager to contribute meaningfully.

Consider a lower salary.

A high salary is one of the reasons companies fail to hire overqualified candidates.

So it would be smart to get into the interview knowing that the salary you will be offered may not be what you expect.

It is good to be open and flexible in discussing the salary with the recruiter.

Don’t shy away from discussing or negotiating the salary, you never know you might end up coming to a mutual agreement. 

Additionally, if you are trying to break into a new career, this could be a sacrifice you may have to make.

Explain the value you would bring

An interview is designed to help you and the company discuss to gauge if you are a good fit for each other.

One thing that makes a candidate stand out is if you can show what value you bring. 

While you are overqualified, you still have a lot to offer, from skills, experience, and even perspective. 

Take this time to show the interviewer why they should hire you and not any other person.

Even though recruiters refrain from overqualified candidates, they can not resist a person who will be an asset to them.

Talk about transferable skills and relevant experience that would help you excel in the role.

Express interest in learning

This will help counter the boredom concern. In every new environment, job, or industry there is always a lot to learn. 

So express your interest in learning about the new role, the company itself, and the industry as well. 

If you are taking up the role to break into a new career then this would help you show your motivation towards the job. 

It will also help address the concern of boredom since you are actively learning on the job.

Show commitment

No hiring manager wants to hire a person who will leave tomorrow or next week.

It may happen, but it is not what they desire. You need to show that you are committed to the role, despite being overqualified.

Communicate your commitment to staying with the organisation for the long term. 

You can do this by expressing enthusiasm about the opportunity to grow within the company and by asking questions about potential career advancement paths.

Highlight how the role fits into your long-term career plan and how you see yourself contributing to the company’s growth.

Be humble

Remain humble throughout the interview. Even though you are overqualified, you don’t have to be rude or proud. 

I don’t mean to not be confident, but you must show humility. 

Avoid difficult terms that may be hard for the interviewer to understand.

After all, humility is a virtue.

Show interest in the job

Above all is to show enthusiasm for the job.

Show that you are genuinely excited about the opportunity to support the company’s growth by asking the interviewer open-ended questions.

Also, show that you are excited to work with the team and company as well.

Remember, attitude is very important.

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Tailoring An Application While being overqualified For The Job

Tailor your CV and cover letter

Don’t use the same CV and cover letter to apply for all jobs. Ensure that you take time to go through the job advert and understand what is needed.

Then customise your CV and cover letter to fit the specific job requirements. Focus on relevant skills and experience.

Use simple language

When crafting your CV and cover letter use simple terms and language that can be understood by the hiring team.

Being in the industry for a longer term, you probably know a lot but this is not the time to use all those complex terms.

Use terms that can also be understood by the applicant tracking system during parsing.

Remove Fluff

Ensure that your application documents are not full of irrelevant information that is not related to the job you are applying for. 

You may have done so much in your previous work places but you need to only include content that is related to the job.

Being overqualified for a job can be a challenge when job hunting, but you can still get that job you so desire.

You may find yourself overqualified for a job if you are trying to :

Do not shy away from applying for the job.

If you are actively looking for exciting career opportunities, Flexi Personnel can help you connect with employers.

You can do so by signing up on our applicant tracking system, where we regularly post job vacancies and send you job alerts that match your skills.

All the best in your job search.


1. Is it OK to be overqualified for a job?

Yes, it can be both acceptable and common for individuals to be overqualified for a job. There are various reasons why someone might apply for a position that they are overqualified for, including seeking stability, a career change, or simply a desire for a different work environment. Being overqualified doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be a good fit for the role.

2. How do you respond to being overqualified for a job?

When faced with the situation of being overqualified for a job, it’s important to address the potential concerns of the employer proactively. Highlight your reasons for applying, emphasizing your genuine interest in the position and how your skills and experience can benefit the company. Tailor your resume and cover letter to focus on relevant experiences and skills that align with the job requirements. Additionally, be prepared to discuss during interviews how you plan to contribute to the organization despite being overqualified.

3. Can I get rejected for being overqualified?

Yes, it is possible to be rejected for being overqualified for a job. Some employers may worry that an overqualified candidate will become bored or dissatisfied with the role and leave soon after being hired. Additionally, they might be concerned about salary expectations or potential conflicts with existing team dynamics. However, being overqualified doesn’t necessarily mean automatic rejection. By effectively addressing potential concerns and demonstrating your commitment and enthusiasm for the role, you can increase your chances of success.

4. Can I be hired if I am overqualified?

Yes, it is possible to be hired even if you are overqualified for a job. Employers may recognize the value that you bring to the role despite being overqualified and may be willing to hire you based on your skills, experience, and potential contributions to the organization. However, it’s important to effectively communicate your motivations for applying and assure the employer that you are genuinely interested in the position and committed to fulfilling its responsibilities.


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