You finally got that interview you’ve been wanting with the company where you really want to work.  Awesome!  Your experience and education make you a perfect fit for the job…or at least that’s what you think.  You’re past the opening pleasantries when you arrive at the interview and the Interviewer hits you with “I’ve looked at your resume and I have to ask, aren’t you too qualified for this job?”

Well, ok, you are really qualified.  You have a ton of experience doing what this job requires.  You have a master’s degree and the job only requires a bachelor’s degree.  You have owned your own business.  You have managed a team of 15 people.  You have been successful.  So how do you answer the Interviewer’s question without sounding, well, overqualified!

I’ve read plenty of suggestions online.  And frankly, some of them shock me and I would never suggest that you use them.  Examples include, telling the interviewer that you want to get your foot in the door with their company; telling the interviewer that you they might want to consider you for a different position if they feel you are more qualified.  Yikes!

Here are some suggestions that you can use:

  • Start by acknowledging the Interviewer’s question.  It’s a great way to build some rapport.  Say something like, “I appreciate that you really took the time to look through my resume and my experience.  I took a lot of time looking at ‘your company’ (Use the name) and this position (use the name of the position) in particular.  I really like the mission of ‘your company’ that says (state a summary of their mission).  Your company’s values are like my values.  Because of my experience and background I believe I could step into the job as your (job title) and start making a difference quickly.  I’d like to contribute to ‘company name’ for the long haul.  You’ve been with ‘company name’ for a while.  How would you see my skills fitting in with the team you have now?”
  • If you have done some good networking and you know someone within the company, you can say something like this:  “Thank you for taking the time to look carefully at my resume.  I really appreciate that.  I have been talking with several employees of ‘company name’ and they all speak very highly of your company and what it’s like to work here.  I’ve told them about the job I’m applying for and they said they thought I could make a difference.  And they also said that they thought I’d be a good fit for the work environment.  We coach youth soccer together so we have had a chance to get to know each other pretty well.  I believe I would make a strong contribution to your company in this role and I really like the idea of working with a great team.  What are the most important skills that you are looking for in this job?”

Take these ideas and rewrite them to fit your circumstances.  It’s not about memorizing something, it’s about being genuine in your response.  The keys to making this work for you are 1) Acknowledge the Interviewer and thank him/her for looking at your resume, 2) state why you would be a good fit because of your experience, and 3) ask the Interviewer a question.  By asking a question at the end you gain more control of the interview.  This keeps you from always feeling as if you are on the defensive.

We’d love to hear some of your real world experiences when you are asked, “Aren’t you too qualified for this job?”  Tell us if it was a deal-breaker for the interview, or how you successfully answered the question.



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