The “overqualified” myth

I’ve never turned down an applicant because I felt he or she was overqualified, and frankly, I don’t think anyone does.  We hear this phrase a lot but it likely just falls in one of these categories:

  •  The hiring manager is afraid the applicant has been around long enough to have some really solid bad habits and doesn’t want to invest the energy to change those.
  •  The hiring manager is intimidated by the applicant’s qualifications and feels unable to manage him/her.
  •  The hiring manager doesn’t like the applicant and doesn’t feel she would fit in will as part of the team but could certainly never state that.
  •  The hiring manager doesn’t really feel the applicant is a good candidate but saying he/she is “overqualified’ is a whole lot easier than stating the opposite.
  •  The interviewer questions the accuracy of some of the “qualifications” on the resume and is trying to get the applicant to give a more realistic overview.
  •  The interviewer is afraid the candidate will use his/her degrees as a crutch in place of real workplace skills.
  •  The interviewer is concerned that the candidate will expect compensation beyond their contribution to the organization.

Sure, I’d prefer to have a Master Gardener consult with me on making my yard a showplace – rather than someone who just has a “green thumb.”

Would you turn a doctor away because she was “overqualified” for your simple sore throat?

Would you send a carpenter away because he had too much experience?

If you’re hearing this phrase a lot in your interviews, look for the real reason you’re not getting opportunities.  I am confident it falls in line with one of the bullet points above. There’s no such thing as “overqualified.”

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