Answering Interview Questions About Being Overqualified for a Job

Women in conducting job interview with applicant in office.
••• Thomas Barwick / Iconica / Getty Images

Interviewers will frequently ask applicants if they feel they are overqualified for the job for which they are applying. The interviewer is asking this question because they want to make sure the candidate the decide upon will stay in the position and not hop quickly to a job that better suits their experience, skills, and abilities. Answering this question can be difficult if you have not prepared yourself for it in advance.

Career expert and author, Joyce Lain Kennedy, shares her best job interview answers to the question "Are you overqualified for this job?"

Best Answers to 'Are You Overqualified for This Job?'

These examples may help you craft your own answers to this question. Keep in mind that you can customize these answers to fit your particular circumstances and the job you’re applying for.

Joyce Lain Kennedy's sample answers to the interview question "Are you overqualified for this job?"

Answers Emphasizing Quality of Work

  • “Overqualified? Some would say that I'm not overqualified but fully qualified. With due respect, could you explain the problem with someone doing the job better than expected?”
  • “Fortunately, I've lived enough years to have developed a judgment that allows me to focus on the future. Before we speak of past years, past titles, and past salaries can we look at my strengths and abilities and how I've stayed on the cutting edge of my career field, including its technology?”
  • “I was proud to be a charge nurse, but I really like getting back to working with patients.”

Answers Emphasizing Flexibility

  • “Salary is not my top priority. Not that I have a trust fund, but I will work for less money, will take direction from managers of any age, will continue to stay current on technology, and will not leave you in the lurch if Hollywood calls to make me a star. And I don't insist that it's my way or the highway.”
  • “As you note, I've worked at a higher level, but this position is exactly what I'm looking for. You offer the opportunity to achieve the magic word: balance. I'm scouting for something challenging but a little less intense, so I can spend more time with my family.”
  • “I hope you're not concerned that hiring someone with my solid experience and competencies would look like age bias if, once on the job, you decided you'd made a mistake and I had to go. Can I present a creative idea? Why don't I work on a trial basis for a month—no strings—which would give you a chance to view me up close? This immediately solves your staffing problem at no risk to you. I can hit the floor running and require less supervision than a less experienced worker. When can I start?”

Answers Emphasizing Loyalty

  • “I'm flattered that you think I'm headhunter bait and will leap to another job when an offer appears. Not really. This job is so attractive to me that I'm willing to sign a contract committing to stay for a minimum of 12 months. There's no obligation on your part. How else can I convince you that I'm the best person for this position?”
  • “I'm here because this is a company on the move and I want to move up with you. With more than the minimal experience to just skim by, I offer immediate returns on your investment. Don't you want a winner with the skill sets and attitudes to do just that?”
  • “My family's grown. And I am no longer concerned with title and salary—I like to keep busy. A reference check will show I do my work on time and do it well as a team member. I'm sure we can agree on a salary that fits your budget. When can we make my time your time?”

Answers Emphasizing Experience as an Asset

  • “Downsizings have left generational memory gaps in the workforce and knowledge doesn't always get passed on to the people coming up. I could be an anchor or mentor—calm, stable, reliable, and providing day-to-day continuity to the younger team. For my last employer, I provided the history of a failed product launch to a new marketing manager, who then avoided making the same mistakes.”
  • “My experience will be an asset to the company and will help me be successful in this position.”
  • “I have the education and experience to fit in readily with the exceptional team here.”
  • “I have experience and knowledge to bring to the challenges of this job.”
  • “My maturity, along with my experience, will enable me to do a terrific job for the company.”