3 Simple Steps to Landing a Role You’re “Over Qualified” For

Yes, we’ve all heard it before, and I’m sure quite a few of you have been on the receiving end of the phrase “You’re over qualified for the role” – It can be a source of huge frustration.

What does this statement mean and how can you overcome this objection before it’s even raised?

Well, let me try and help… Firstly, we will look at the potential underlying reasons and then assess how you can overcome the objection.

So, why would a potential employer say you are over qualified?


They could think that you’re using the role as a Stepping Stone

Are you using the role as a “for now” solution or an “until something better comes along” job? If you are going for a temporary role, this is perfectly fine. If you’re out of work and willing to sit on a reception desk, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a HR Manager, a Receptionist or an ex-Director. It’s a short term fix for you and the company knows it’s temporary and expects you to be looking for a permanent role.

However, if you are going for a permanent role that is not the same level as your previous experience, make sure that you are accepting for the right reasons. If you are considering taking the role until the next ideal job comes along or until a job in your field becomes available, I would advise re-thinking your plan. However, if your reasons are for: a better work-life balance, a career change or you have a view to working your way up within a new company; then make that clear to the employer! A good company values and develops its workers – whether they are overqualified or not!

Could they feel threatened by your skill level and experiences?

Now, I’m not saying to assume the worst about your future managers, but try and put yourself in their shoes. If you have more experience in their field then they do, they may fear a mutiny, or that they will lose their job to you. You may, without meaning to, make them feel insecure in their job just by working under them.

Although this will never be given as an official reason why you will be unsuccessful, it is worth thinking about when interviewing for roles that are below your capabilities. It’s important that you are self-aware and ensure that you articulate your ability to work coherently within a team and respect and value the direction of your managers.

Might they be concerned that you’d be averse to completing more basic tasks?

Some people have been managers or in senior roles for so long, the idea of photocopying, handling calls or inputting data is just inconceivable. Before applying for a lower level role you must consider: “would I realistically be willing to do that?” Are you happy to go back to your days of taking calls, data entry or even brewing up? If so, fantastic. If not, maybe consider whether the role is definitely for you.

Don’t always blame yourself

Sometimes, you may just not be right for the role. Maybe they need a specific software experience or maybe someone else was just a better fit for the team. Just because you are overqualified for the role, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the right one for you. Take any feedback given, take time to consider it carefully and utilise it to continue your job search. The right role will be out there for you, it may just take time to find it!

So how can you get across to your potential employers that you are serious about the role, whether you are over qualified or not?


Here are some things to think consider:

Share with them the value you can add to the role

This is something that we suggest all candidates ask themselves, but it is even more important when your experience doesn’t directly match the requirements of a role. How will you, working in that department, add value to that team or the company? What do you have to offer that someone with the right level of skills is lacking? Could it be your ability to think outside the box? Or how you handle difficult customers? Make sure you get this across at interview.

Try and get them to consider the value for money they will get by employing someone of your ilk

If someone highly experienced is happy to work for £8 – £9 per hour, just think what good value for money that is to the company! They are getting your experience and knowledge for a reasonable rate. Who doesn’t love a bargain? Make sure you know that potential employers can see what you bring to the role and how you are the best value for money.

Be clear with them on your motivations for wanting the role

Most importantly, tell them why you want the role. If your reasons are sincere and genuine it shouldn’t matter that you are “over qualified”. If you’re after the role because of the: reputation of the company, the flexibility in working hours or because you want to take a step back and regain your work life balance – get this across when talking to them. If you can clearly demonstrate your passion and motivations it should dispel any of their concerns.


I want to be clear with you – this advice works! We have previously worked with a candidate who owned her own business but is now working in a customer service role. Why? Because the role was right for her and she communicated this well throughout the interview process. She is now happy in her role and glad to have her work life balance back.


Amy signature



So, are you looking for a career change, but worried about being over qualified?

Get in touch with the team today to see how Cummins Mellor can help you in your search for that new role!