Does a Hiring Manager Think You’re Overqualified? Here’s How You Can Tell

By Chelsea Babin

As an intelligent, well trained, experienced professional you might occasionally run into a hiring manager who thinks you’re overqualified for the position you’re applying for. While you can explain why it may be worth it to take what looks like a step down, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether or not a hiring manager thinks you’re overqualified. Here are a few common questions asked in interviews to people who seem overqualified.

1. Does your current title accurately represent your job responsibilities? If a hiring manager asks you this question, they’re probably trying to figure out whether or not you’re overqualified for the position you’re interviewing for. Some companies will give a senior or lead title only when a person has been around for a certain number of years and is managing a certain number of people while others are a little less rigid about their titles. If you feel your responsibilities and title match up well, tell them that but explain why you’re ready to transition into the kind of role you’re applying for.

2. Are you trying to make a career change? Whether you’re switching industries or job responsibilities, a career change often comes with over qualification in some aspects of the new job you’ll accept. Whether you’re asked if you’re making a career change or simply want to bring up that you are, make sure you explain why you’re interested in this new field or industry and how your previous wealth of experience can translate to this new position without hampering you from keeping an open mind and being willing to learn new things or go the extra mile.

3. Will you be comfortable working with a boss who may be less experienced than you in some way? At its core, hiring managers worry about hiring overqualified candidates because they want to make sure you’re willing to report to a boss who may be younger or less experienced than you are. They may not ask you this question outright in the interview but, whether they do or not, ease their fears by stating that you have some expertise in your field but you’re always willing to learn more and you don’t equate years of experience with a wealth of applicable knowledge. Make sure hiring managers know you’d be perfectly comfortable reporting to a boss who is less experienced or younger than you and that it won’t affect how much you respect them and trust their judgment.

4. Are you comfortable in this salary range? The other fear behind hiring someone who is overqualified is that hiring managers don’t know if you’ll be comfortable starting at a potentially lower salary range than the one you currently have. If you aren’t, this may not be the right position for you. And, if you are comfortable with accepting an initial salary that’s lower than your current one, explain that a change of industry, position, location, or simply moving to a company where you have more career growth potential is worth the salary reduction to you.

Hiring managers are often just as concerned about hiring under qualified candidates as they are about hiring overqualified candidates. If you’re asked these questions in an interview or you can sense that your interviewer may think you’re overqualified for this position, explain why you’re willing to make these potential sacrifices for this position. And, if you’re not, then it’s time to move on and apply to job opportunities that you’re better suited for.