GNcareers, from Gulf News

Learn how not to be mistaken as over-qualified

Learn how not to be mistaken as over-qualifiedImage Credit: Supplied

Being the right fit for the job doesn’t only mean having sufficient skills and experience to do the job, it also refers to not being overqualified — that is having higher qualifications, expectations and ambition than what the job can offer. 

Employers are often concerned about hiring someone who is overqualified for several reasons: long-term retention, ability to be a team player and employee satisfaction, among others. But not all job candidates who are deemed overqualified actually are. In their efforts to introduce themselves as super candidates, many may be carried away in playing up their experience for that purpose to the extent that they exclude themselves. 

To avoid upselling yourself, look out for these common mistakes that may make you appear overqualified for the job. 

More-than-needed experience 

Be truthful about your previous role. For example, if you collaborated with others on a project, don’t say you led it. Similarly, if you helped training others, it doesn’t mean you were more senior to them. 

Although it is always advisable to use power verbs that demonstrate the importance of your previous job tasks, playing up your experience beyond its actual scope could hurt your future prospects in getting a job — other than it can discredit you if busted by a reference or a coworker who is familiar with the exact nature of your previous job. 

Fitting for a higher role 

It is not an uncommon strategy that you use your past experience in an attempt to justify a better title or more pay early on in the process. The problem with that approach is that you’re telling the employer that you’re not the right fit for the job — you’re better. In addition, you’re expecting the employer to make compromises for you. Again, that strategy may work if you use it at the right time, which is typically at the phase of negotiating a job offer. However, if you push it early in your initial application or the job interview, you simply may get yourself excluded for appearing to have higher expectations than what the job offers. 

Keep in mind, don’t shoot for the title of your interviewer — your future supervisor. Doing so may make even the most secure boss uncomfortable. Think of in-between titles/positions. For example, between sales executive and sales manager, you may suggest: senior sales executive. 

Financially unfit 

You may present the perfect credentials and experience for the job, but if you ask for too much financially you may be excluded — even if that is what you expect and you were paid before. Pay scales differ from one place to another, and having unrealistic expectations for the type of company you’re seeking a job with won’t help your case. That is why it is important to begin with researching the employer’s requirements and making sure that whatever financial package you ask for is reasonable. 


A common question in many interviews is “what would you do to improve a certain area of the job?” If your answer is aggressive and critical in a way that insults those who work there, you may be simply presenting yourself as an know-it-all who will be hard to control and function well within a team. Even if your tone isn’t aggressive, if your ideas are to overhaul everything unnecessarily, you may appear as someone who only work within familiar settings and won’t adjust well 

Generally, always try to present your ideas within the scope of responsibility and work duties that the job offers. With doing that, you will be sure that you present yourself as the right match for this particular job. If you know that you’re not, you then would better wait for the right opportunity. 

Taken as overqualified 

- Check if you’ve played up your past experience 

- Don’t negotiate title and money too early 

- Give a realistic salary expectation 

- Be constructive about improving existing operations 

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News