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The Trickiest Interview Question for the Older Job Candidate

“Aren’t you overqualified for this role?”

This question is wrought with peril. You can feel yourself getting more tense. They might as well have said, “aren’t you too old for this job?” You want to scream, “Seriously!!!??? My age has given me the exact experience you need for this job. Don’t you see that? Isn’t it obvious!!!???”

You may not be answering the question being asked

But you can’t scream or react emotionally. So, you answer the question and hope for the best. There are several problems with this approach including the fact that you may not even be answering the question you are being asked.

What does being overqualified mean? Is it referring to your age? Is the interviewer wondering if you’ll be happy with the salary? Or, maybe they think this is just a temporary stop until you find something better. They really could think you’re overqualified and will get bored with the work or they could be afraid that you’ll want to take their job as the boss.

So, you could answer that you’ve had a great career and finances aren’t as important to you at this point of your life and you’re looking to be a great individual contributor. But that may not be the interviewer’s concern. If they were concerned you would get bored and not be motivated, then they’ll still be wondering about that after the interview is over.

Clarify the Question

The first response you should have to this question is, “Can you please tell me more about your question? I want to make sure I address it correctly.” Then, once you know what their concern is, you can respond directly to it and hopefully satisfy their need. It’s important that you have a good response for each of the possibilities regarding this question so you can answer it concisely and confidently.

Clarifying a question and checking in to make sure you answered it in a satisfactory way, are two key aspects of interviewing. When you do this, besides answering the question being asked in an appropriate way, you are making it a conversation. You are demonstrating confidence and showing that you don’t just accept things at face value, but you seek to really understand things before responding or reacting. This is a great quality to have as a job candidate and likely appealing to the hiring manager.

If you want help identifying the steps of the process to help you plan for winning your next job opportunity, click here to receive a short guide entitled “The Sher Process to Your Next Job”

Ken Sher

Ken Sher is an Career Coach and Executive Coach who focuses on the whole person when helping them with professional or personal issues they are trying to manage. Ken's areas of expertise include job search, career management and leadership development. If you would like to reach out to Ken, please call him at (215) 262-0528 or visit his web site at