What do I do if I’m overqualified for my job? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to that question. Everyone’s situation is different, and the answer depends on a number of factors, including how much you need the job, what other opportunities are available, whether or not you are supported by management, and if your values align with the company’s.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what it means to be overqualified, including signs you are overqualified and what you can do about it. We’ll also share common interview questions for overqualified candidates and how to answer them based on your current situation.
What Does it Mean to Be Overqualified for a Job?
Being overqualified means that you have too much experience or too much training and education for the job you're applying for or are currently employed at. This can become an issue for a number of reasons.
You may feel like you’re becoming stagnant in your position or that you have no space to progress. You could also feel like you’re not being compensated for your worth, which can lead to diminished motivation and resentment.
On the employer's side, someone who is overqualified may not be the right fit for the role you are hiring for. Based on their added experience, they may expect more compensation than you are able to provide. There’s also a much higher chance the employee will leave the position prematurely once they find a job that is more fitting of their experience.
It should also be noted that being called overqualified by a potential employer could be a tactic used against you. Unfortunately, there are employers who have been called out for using “overqualified” as a way to avoid hiring older candidates. As it’s illegal to make hiring decisions based on someone’s age, saying someone is overqualified is a sneaky tactic used to discriminate against potential candidates.
Signs You Are Overqualified
- You have the most experience or training on your team or in your department
- You find the tasks of your job easy to manage and complete
- You are no longer learning anything new
- You’re bored with your work
- You can complete all of your work tasks with partial effort or before the workday is done
- Your boss doesn’t have anything left to teach you
- Your boss has trouble finding new challenges for you
- You often manage your boss or need to teach them aspects of the job
- You commonly teach the other members of your team how to do their job
- There isn’t any way to advance any further at your current job
- You are taking on other jobs or hobbies outside of work to stay stimulated
You are paid less than others with the same training and experience
What Do I Do if I’m Overqualified for My Job?
There are a few things you can do if you are overqualified for your job. First, seek out management to see if there’s anything they can do to help you feel more fulfilled by your work. How are you able to grow in your current role and with the company? Are there new responsibilities you could take on or learning opportunities to seek out? How can they support you?
If you don’t feel supported by management, you will need to seek out opportunities on your own. There’s nothing worse than feeling stagnant in your role. You need to decide if you want to find a new role that you are adequately qualified for or if you will keep your current job while developing personally and professionally on your own time.
Be subtle and careful if you begin looking for another role. If it gets back to your employer, you may wind up with no job at all. Always be respectful and maintain discretion.
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While continuing with your current position, find ways you can grow outside of your role. Look for conferences, courses, volunteer work, and other learning opportunities that will keep you stimulated and prevent stagnation. Consider any gaps in your own knowledge, what’s required for your ideal career path, and your own personal and professional development.
Interview Questions for Overqualified Candidates
If you are overqualified for job roles you are applying for, there’s a good chance you will be asked about it. Ensure you prepare answers for interview questions you may be asked surrounding overqualification.
Common interview questions for overqualified candidates:
- Why are you interested in a role you are overqualified for?
- How will you stay fulfilled in a job you are overqualified for?
- Is there a reason you are interested in a position you are overqualified for?
- Why are you passionate about this position?
- Why do you want to work for this company specifically?
- What are your long-term goals?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- How will your experience aid the position, team, and company overall?
- Do you understand the duties of your position?
- Why are you an ideal fit for this company specifically?
- How do your values align with our company values?
- Is this a pit stop before you find what you are actually looking for?
Best Overqualified for a Job Interview Answers
How you answer your interview questions depends on your own personal situation.
If you are overqualified but need or really want the job you are being interviewed for, you must illustrate how your qualifications will be an asset to the role and company. Show how your experience will benefit your team and the overall business.
Be prepared to answer questions about whether you will truly be satisfied in the role. If you fear being rejected for being overqualified, ensure you know exactly how you will address this issue. Why do you want to take a position you are overqualified for?
Most importantly, you need to know how to answer questions about whether or not you will leave this position as soon as you find something more suited to your qualifications. Employers and hiring managers don’t like turnover. They may see your overqualification as a red flag and worry that you will jump ship as soon as something better comes along. It’s up to you to ease their concerns and convince them that you are passionate about the role, industry, and the company. If you truly do want to be hired and are looking forward to working for this company, this shouldn’t be too difficult, but ensure you practice your answers before the interview.
Your answers may be a little different if you are unsure whether or not you want to take a position you are overqualified for. If you don’t need this position desperately, you should ask important questions that will ensure you don’t become stagnant in the role.
Address the elephant in the room and speak openly about your qualifications. Speak to why you are interested in working at this company in particular and how your values align. Ask specific questions about how you can grow with the company and what opportunities are available for you to move up in your position.
Are you able to slowly take on more responsibilities if you succeed with the current job role? What support do they offer for both personal and professional development? If you're not desperate for the position, you need to make sure the fit is right—for your sake and the sake of the company. If you are unhappy, everyone will be.
In the end, it all comes down to balancing your answers with your current situation, how much you align with the company, and the future opportunities that could be available down the road.
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