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Ways to work against the stigma of being overqualified during a job interview

Between getting nervous before interviews, to awkward silences during them, to not hearing back from hiring managers, there are so many reasons that the interview process is stressful. So, exceeding the experience requirements with flying colors shouldn’t be another thing to worry about, right? Wrong.

Here’s how to work against the stigma of being overqualified for a job in an interview.

Be honest about where you currently stand

Alison Green, book author and author of the Ask a Manager blog, writes in U.S. News & World Report that you should be transparent about your reasons for applying.

After mentioning that employers worry about overqualified job applicants —  including how you may want a higher salary than they can offer, and you might not enjoy working with a supervisor who doesn’t have as many qualifications as you — Green explains how, as an applicant, honesty can help:

“So what do you do if you’re hearing that you’re overqualified for jobs you actually want? The best thing you can do is to understand the concerns above and address them head-on. You can do that by explaining why you’re genuinely interested in the position,” Green writes. “For instance, you might explain that while your kids are in school, you want a job with stable hours that doesn’t require the level of responsibility you’ve had in the past – or whatever is really true for you. (And that’s key – it needs to ring true for you; don’t make something up.)”

Don’t forget to talk (less) money

Jennifer Braganza, a success champion, coach and speaker, told CareerBuilder how to bring this up in the conversation in the job interview.

“From a salary perspective, the candidate may be out of the range the company is looking for, so in their application, they’ll have to make it clear the role is an acceptable range for them,” she sadi. “For example, maybe you were a manager in [your current] function and are now looking for an individual contributor role given your current phase of life (new baby, approaching retirement, taking care of ailing parents). In the interview, you’d have to make it clear you’re not expecting what you were getting because you know this role has less responsibility.”

Show how your experience is a good thing

Joyce Lain Kennedy, an author and career expert, offered The Balance potential answers to the question, “Are you overqualified for this job?”

Here’s one of her sample responses: “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.”

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