Overqualified? You Can Still Land the Job


job interviewThis post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.

These days, it’s not uncommon to apply for a job you’re probably overqualified for. For example, when I was hiring my last intern, only a single application came from an undergraduate student—most applicants had graduated more than a year before and were squeezing years of internship experience onto one page.

But when it came around to hiring, we went with the undergrad.

Why? Because none of the others had convinced us that they weren’t on the lookout for something full time—and wouldn’t jump ship if they found it before the program was over.

This, though, doesn’t have to be the case for you. Whether you’re an intern or a senior-level director, having too much experience should be a boon to an employer! You just need to tell the right story.

To learn more, I spoke with HR professionals on both coasts. Here’s their advice for how to approach interviews when you’re overqualified, no matter what the situation.

1. If You’re a Perpetual Intern

Many 20-somethings get stuck in this pattern, bouncing from internship to internship even after graduation. It’s a rough job market, and sometimes getting your foot in the door and gaining experience as a part-time unpaid intern is truly your best option. But many hiring managers balk at hiring an intern who is no longer in school, concerned (like I was) that the applicant will leave before the program is over to take a full-time job elsewhere.

The Approach

It’s important to be clear on why this particular internship is important for your career growth—and articulate that to the hiring manager. Are you researching a specific business area or trying out an interest that’s different than your past internship experiences? Even if you’re applying to your third editorial internship at a fashion magazine, find specific reasons it’s a great move for you.

What’s just as important is to clearly express that you understand the time commitment involved and won’t leave your employer hanging. Even if you are looking for full-time work, let the recruiter know that you are willing to put your job search on hold and wait until the end of the internship to resume it.