Overqualified! Is this a real concern or a convenient excuse?

Lack-of-Vision

Many companies do not give interview feedback to external candidates? But, when feedback is delivered, many of the applicants will hear these dreaded words, “You are an excellent candidate, but I am afraid you are overqualified for the position.” These words, intended to placate the candidate, often leave them frustrated and disillusioned.

There are a tremendous number of talented people in search of a new job. In many instances they are willing to work in jobs that are below their educational level, income history or experience. They want to work. They want to take care of their families, pay their bills and be productive contributors to society.

There are two attitudes about people that come into play in workplace scenarios. First, everybody likes to get added value, purchase something on sale or receive a bonus and a gift that is unexpected. They want to consider themselves lucky. This also applies to personal relationships. If a potential mate is interested in them and they are more attractive, with assets beyond their imagination, they consider themselves very fortunate. They are ecstatic when they gain something that exceeds their needs and expectations.

Second, no one likes to be tricked, used, manipulated, taken advantage of, fooled or exploited. If they hire someone and before they can give them a satisfactory return on investment, they leave the organization, people are left feeling they wasted their time and resources. If people invest time in a relationship and it is severed prematurely, they are disappointed and possibly angry.

Both of these philosophical dynamics come into play when companies are interviewing to fill vacant positions.

Overqualified people

There are facts that are known prior to the interview. Interviewers know whether or not a person’s qualifications match the needs of their assignment. If the person is overqualified, they know it before the interview. If being overqualified is a knockout factor for the assignment, the person should not be invited to the interview. It is wasting their time and company time. If they are brought to the interview, the assumption is that the organization is open-minded to consider them as a temporary or permanent fit for the job.

If they are invited to the interview and rejected, here are some of the potential real concerns and convenient excuses.

Real concerns

  • They have too much experience, but it is the wrong experience for today and for the future
  • They wanted them to perform well, but they bombed the interview
  • They did not convince the interviewer that they really wanted to work for their organization
  • They could not transfer their skills and experience to the job
  • The amount of time necessary to train them would slow down the work teams
  • They told the interviewer, in so many words, they would leave the company if something else became available With real concerns, interviewers have serious doubts about the person’s interest in the assignment. The organization knows, they are only available because a job that matches their background is not ready. They want the person to be happy and productive, but they are skeptical. They do not believe the candidate is ready for the lower paying job. They don’t want to take the risk to see if they could handle it. The interviewer wanted to be sold on the fact that they were capable of making the adjustment to the new job.

Convenient excuses

  •  The interviewer is reluctant or prohibited from giving the candidate the real reason for not selecting them
  • The overqualified line was given because it is the easiest explanation.
  • The candidate was so impressive in the interview that they were seen as a potential threat to vulnerable careers in the organization.
  • They like the candidate, but are afraid they would be frustrated and unhappy

Convenient excuses are used to hide the real reason for not giving someone a job. The excuses could indicate that someone was interviewed to meet a federal regulation to include certain individuals in a candidate pool. Company personnel have to be consistent when offering this explanation to candidates after the interview. When a candidate finds out that they were rejected as overqualified and other individuals with similar experiences were hired, they could cause problems.

Candidate – Overqualified Mindset

The candidate must understand the current predicament of the hiring manager. They are wrestling with the two dynamics discussed earlier; the struggle between obtaining extra value and the risk of being used by a desperate job seeker. They must recognize that the hiring manager has the following issues;

  • They are gauging seriousness as to whether the person really wants the job and would really stick around for a while.
  • The company feels the overqualified person is only interested in them because their real interests is not available.
  • Ask, “What do they need to hear from me, to make them comfortable enough to give me the job?”
  • They want to know that the job will be stimulating enough. They want them engaged and not disruptive to the team.
  • How can they make them feel that it is their lucky day that they are available to benefit the organization?
  • Convince them that they are hopeful that this opportunity will lead to something to benefit their career.
  • They may wonder if they are patient enough to stay with them and learn the job and contribute at a very high level.
  • Show them how they can add value to the organization, while broadening their skills
  • Demonstrate that this is a calculated move to strengthen their portfolio
  • Display belief in their ability to make it work, that they have thought it through and it is more than a desperate ploy, but an opportunity to show their humility while using their skills and work ethic to make a difference.

As discussed earlier, people like it when they can obtain greater value. If an organization can bring someone in the workforce that has skills above and beyond what is expected of the job and they are willing to accept the money offered and can hire them on a trial basis and groom them for greater things, it may be a risk worth taking. The hiring decision can be fraught with risk. Many times hiring a candidate who is not overqualified, can result in, them leaving shortly after being hired.

There isn’t a problem getting someone or being someone that is overqualified. The company, under the right circumstances, could use the person’s skills and experiences to enhance their organization. They could use their leadership to develop their peers. They could ideally be someone they would like to groom to fill other positions in the company down the road.

In this competitive work environment, people who are overqualified are constantly being hired, while others are being turned away. It is important for candidates to continue interviewing for the right job, and to be strategic and look at other positions to determine and how they can add value broaden their portfolio.

When individuals are told they were overqualified, this may mean they were unable to address the real concerns potentially posed by their resume. It could also be an indication that the interviewer took the easy way out and resorted to a convenient excuse.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

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