How to Beat “Overqualified for the Job” Syndrome

Is This You? 

What can you say to a company who reviews your resume, calls you in for an hour-long interview, only to declare at the end they think your “overqualified” for the job and not a good fit for them? You know this company is hiring a lot of people. You would think they would love to hire someone with more experience. But they turned you down flat. Is there anything you could have done to convince them otherwise?

Firstly, Be Honest, Are You Really Overqualified for the Job

First things first, could it be that you are actually overqualified for the job? If the answer’s yes, think carefully about why you’re going for this position. Chances are you have a number of legitimate reasons, which could easily be communicated on your resume or directly to your interviewer when the question comes up. Examples of possible valid reasons could include relocation, to achieve a better work/life balance, a desire to change industry or profession, the opportunity to work remotely, the position you’re applying for is more convenient, or within an area you wish to specialise in. 

All these are entirely valid reasons that should not preclude you for applying for a job that on paper you are overqualified to carry out. The key thing here is that by being evasive or coy in your resume, you are in effect sabotaging your own interview as this could be something you could have tackled way before. You may have been oblique on paper purely in order to create a better chance of getting the interview in the first place, but you need to put more faith in human resource managers, who are adept at understanding motivations and rationales that go beyond merely assessing someone’s qualifications, experience and work history. 

Have you ever been told you're overqualified for the job?

Tactics to Overcome the Stigma of Being ‘Overqualified’ for the Job

Well, firstly, you underline what it is about you that will benefit the employer. It’s possible that all your extensive workplace experience can either help you or harm you during an interview. It’s up to you to offer some perspective to your potential employer by showcasing your skills, and then explaining how those skills will help the company. Maybe you helped increase a range of efficiencies in your precious company. Try and learn everything you can about the needs of your prospective company and be ready to show how your expertise can help it accomplish those goals.

If you feel you may be losing their concentration, make a commitment. The biggest fear that a potential employer faces when hiring someone who is overqualified is that they will get bored with the role after a while and then quit, leaving the company to start the time-consuming — and expensive — hiring process all over again. Make sure that they know you have no plans to leave the job should you be successful. Occasionally, employers may want you to sign a contract to confirm that you will work with the company for at least 12-18 months. But you should only sign an agreement if you’re truly willing to dedicate that time to the organisation. In all probability, you will be delighted to sign such a contract, and your prospective employer will have their number one fear of employing someone who is overqualified the job completely erased. 

Another fear an employer may have is that the salary they are offering will not be attractive to you now, or moving forward, leading to possible resentment or again, quitting. -so, take the salary question off the table. Make it clear that your previous positions – and earnings – will not inflate your salary requirements. Stress that you are entirely realistic and looking for a salary that reflects the advertised job’s current market value — and that you also are open to negotiation. That will help smooth the way to getting a second interview, and hopefully a job offer.


The key to the issue of being overqualified for the job is honesty. Honesty from you and honesty from your potential employer toward you. Analyse your reasons for taking a step down the career ladder. Be honest with yourself on your resume and in the interview. You have to know why, so you can do the best for yourself and for someone else. Similarly, try and get your employer to express their concerns so that you can allay them with verifiable reasons and compelling facts. 

Are you seeking a professional resume writing service? Select Resumes can provide this service to you at the highest standard. Select Resumes also offers dedicated selection criteria writers to give you the help that you need for even the most complex government job applications. Once you have secured your interview, talk to us about our experienced and passionate interview skills coaches so that you can feel more confident at your next job interview.