Why Are You Interested in a Lower-Level Position?

Woman conducting job interview
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It’s not uncommon for workers who are older, unemployed, overstressed, balancing family commitments, or simply tired of working too hard to want to seek a lower-level position. The problem is that when you interview for a job, the hiring manager is going to try to determine if you are willing to downgrade your career. So, here’s how to answer the question, “Why are you interested in a lower-level position?”

The hiring manager will ask you why you’re interested in a job that’s at a lower-level than what your qualifications indicate. The challenge in landing such a position will be convincing the employer that you’ll be fully invested in your work, and you’re not just looking to take it easy. They’re not looking for a slacker or for someone who’s going to leave in a short time.

Why Do You Want a Lower-Level Job?

You’ll typically be asked to explain why you’re willing to give up status, pay, and responsibility to accept the new job. The best approach is to frame your answer positively with a focus on the attractive elements of your target job. For example, you should explain why you’re moving towards the lower level job as opposed to moving away from your current higher-level position.

It’s a good idea to think about why you want to take on the new job and prepare yourself to answer questions in a manner that will convince the interviewer that the position is right for you. First, make a list of the most appealing activities associated with your target job. Then think of examples of when you carried out similar tasks and applied similar skills in the past, noting what you enjoyed about these aspects of the job.

Be ready to reference the success you achieved in those situations and the level of satisfaction which you derived. Also, come equipped with any positive feedback or outcomes of your previous work. 

Connect Your Previous Job to the New, Lower-Level Position

Look for any connections between the attractive aspects of your current or most recent job and the target job. For example, as an engineering director, the most energizing aspect of your current work might be troubleshooting design problems confronting your team of engineers.

Such a reference would support your intention to get back “on the front lines” doing engineering work as opposed to pursuing management tasks. Be sure to explain, in detail, why you enjoy being on those front lines.

Outline Additional Reasons

It might be a tough sell, so you’ll need to support your case for moving toward a lower-level job. Make sure to mention any supporting reasons for the change. Maybe you don’t need as much income now as you did when you were younger, and perhaps you originally took on your current higher-level job primarily for the income.

For example, perhaps you have kids who were young when you took your current job but now they’ve graduated from college, and you don’t need to give them as much financial support as in the past. Or, you have downsized your home and car, and you don’t need the extra money right now.

If you're applying for an hourly job vs. a salaried or management position, you could also mention that you were working a significant number of hours each week, and you're now looking for less responsibility and a somewhat lighter workload.

Whatever your supporting reasons might be, the key will be to pair these statements with the main reason that explains your passion for your target position. You need to build your case and the more reasons you have for wanting a lower-level job, the better your chances are for actually getting hired.

It's important to make a well-considered and well-rounded case for your new career trajectory. So, to strengthen your case, consider ending the interview with the question, "Are there any concerns you have about my employment that I have not yet answered?" Deliver this query in a confident and enthusiastic tone, and you'll be sure to quell any worries your potential new employer will have.

More Job Interview Questions and Answers

You’ll have a lot of interview questions to answer, and if you haven’t searched for a job recently, you may be out of practice when it comes to job interviews. Review typical job interview questions and sample answers to prepare properly.

Your interviewer will expect you to have some questions to ask him or her about the job or the company. If you’re not good at coming up with questions on the fly, review questions for job candidates to ask the interviewer.