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what if you overqualify for the job you want?

Sometimes, you find yourself in the unenviable category of “overqualified” candidates when applying for a job. If you are interested in a position that you overqualify for, take a proactive stance and answer some common interviewer’s questions before they are asked.

  • Answer “why are you applying for a job you overqualify for?” in your cover letter. Maybe you want to have a less demanding position because you have decided family time is more important than working 70 hours a week. Along with that, make sure you state that you highly appreciate being able to have a job that allows you to use your skills and work fewer hours. Another scenario is the person who has found they really enjoy the challenges of the lower level job and has decided they do not want to move up.
  • Answer “won’t you move on to another opening as soon as one shows up?” with a resume that has highlighted the skills and experience you bring to the job, how those skills meet the job requirements, and some questions of your own during the interview that show your interest will be ongoing.
  • Answer “how will you react to a younger supervisor and new technology?”  by relating instances in your career where you worked successfully with all ages, and the technology trends you have kept up with or are currently learning how to use.
  • Answer “what if we can’t pay you what you were making before?”  by being prepared to discuss salary and a firm grasp of what you will accept, even if it is less. You may very well be working for less than you made before, but if the job is one you enjoy, that is worth more than dollars.

The cover letter and resume for an “overqualified” job seeker need to be fine-tuned to answer some of the questions satisfactorily and get you the interview where you can discuss the rest. If you are not sure how to do this, perhaps our coaching services would be a good investment. A Certified Career Coach can work with you one-on-one to strategize your job search effectively, and transform being “overqualified” into an asset that gets you that interview.

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questions you should ask during your job interview

Most of the time, a job interview will consist of you answering questions. But most interviewers will also ask if you have any questions, and it’s a good idea to be prepared to ask the right kind. You don’t have to use my phrasing, but think through why these questions are good to ask and how you can ask something similar:

  • “The job description cites these responsibilities. How are those responsibilities filled in a typical workday?” This gives you an idea about the work load and expectations involved.
  • “What do you hope to see this position accomplish for your company?” A question like this gives you an opportunity to hear what their goals are for this particular job and get an idea of the long term plans you will be a part of.
  • “Is there any reason you think I might have trouble accomplishing your goals for this job?” This is a scary question to ask, but it will let you address their concerns and possibly correct misconceptions they may have about you.
  • “I see from the mission statement that you value creativity. How does this position employ creativity in meeting that goal?” This is a sample question…what matters is your display of knowledge about the company and their goals. You can use recent press statements, mission statements, or anything that shows you cared enough about the job to learn more about it and think about how you will do it.
  • “Is this a newly created position or one that has been in place?” An established job description for a position that has been in place usually has a lot of support in place, too. They’ve figured out what works and you just slip into the spot and carry on. You can ask if the previous worker moved into another position, if you will be part of a team, etc. But a newly created position is fuzzier because the bugs haven’t been worked out yet. You can ask what the problems were that led to the creation of the position and how flexible the job description will be as you work on fixing them, for instance.

If the idea of asking questions like these fills you with fear, consider something like our career coaching services to help you prepare. You can choose a packaged deal or a la carte coaching and use the investment to gain the confidence to interact with ease. A coach helps you learn what you need to know and improve the skills you already have to be the best candidate for the job you want.

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Why are you applying for this position?
If someone were to put together a list of the most hated interview questions, there is little doubt that one of the top ten would be “Why are you applying for this position?” The short and glib answer would be simply that I want the money. That is also the answer that no one should ever give. If you have done even a brief amount of homework on the company before you sent your resume, then you should know enough to answer this question.

If you have been out of work for any length of time, a somewhat honest answer is a good idea. Tell the interviewer that you have been waiting for a position such as this to open up. Go into detail of what you offer the company at this specific time and for this specific job. Interviewing is about generalities on their end and specifics on yours. You need for them to see you as someone ready to get started the moment you are hired.

If you are currently employed, you are in a better position. Tell the interviewer that you have been waiting for this position to open and then tell them why. Again, go into detail about what you offer.

One thing to be cautious of is if the interviewer words the question in a way to elicit information about your current or previous employer. This is about integrity, and it is common for the interviewer to see if you are the sort of person that is going to bad mouth your employer. That is never a good idea. Make it clear that you aren’t unhappy with your current job but that you would enjoy the one you are applying for even more. You want to leave the interviewer with a positive image of you.

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What is Your Biggest Weakness?
In the list of most hated interview questions, the question “What is your biggest weakness?” has got to be number one. You go into an interview attempting to showcase your strengths and they want to hear about your weaknesses. It’s a question that is designed to throw you off guard and put you off balance, and it works very well at accomplishing both. However, there is a third reason that the question is asked: To find out how well you know yourself. It’s a character question and most people fail miserably at answering it well.

When job seekers know that they are likely to be asked about their faults or weaknesses, they prepare a pat answer that attempts to turn a negative into a positive. The most common answer is also the worst answer: “I tend to be something of a workaholic.” This is the wrong answer because that shows you to be unable to strike a balance between work and life. Without that balance you are more prone to stress, being difficult to work with, and a candidate for making mistakes.

So what is your biggest weakness? Everyone has one and all most people need to do is think back over what types of criticisms they have gotten to find one. I tend to ask a lot of questions and over analyze everything. This can be annoying to some people, but it’s also an asset in my line of work. Figure out your biggest weakness and look for a positive angle on it. Then you will be ready to answer the most hated interview question of them all, and turn your most feared weakness into a selling point during the interview.

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Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
The question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is considered to not only be one of the most hated and laziest questions asked during an interview, but also the most common. Because you are certain to be asked this question at least once during your job search process, it’s a good idea to have an answer ready. Because it generally comes towards the end of the questions posed to candidates, it’s a good idea to anticipate it being asked and to be proactive about getting the information you need to answer it.

During the interview there is generally give and take between you and the interviewer. Use this to your advantage by asking about projects that are currently being worked on, what types of projects you are likely to be immediately assigned to, and that sort of thing. You want to have enough fresh information to be able to give a good answer should this dreaded question be asked, and also to properly formulate questions later on when asked.

There is no correct answer to this question, but there are several wrong answers. Answers where you seem arrogant or glib are to be avoided at all costs. You also want to avoid sounding as though you have no future plans and haven’t considered your role and impact on the company.

When you are finally asked the question, talk about how the projects mentioned previously have been completed successfully, how you have moved on to other projects and expanded your role with the company. If there is continuing education involved, talk about how you anticipate it positively impacting your role within the company, completion of projects and your work with assigned teams. This makes you look thoughtful, like a team player and as an asset to the company.

An important note is that when you tailor your answer to your impact on the company you are interviewing with, you save the interviewer the trouble of trying to picture how you would fit in with the company and what you would offer. This is a winning approach to an often dreaded question.

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interview3

If you are the type of person who gets very nervous during a job interview, practicing your interviewing skills in a mock interview setting may be for you. A mock interview is when you have someone such as a career coach, a counselor or a friend act as an interviewer to let you practice answering interview questions.

Most people are so nervous during an interview that they forget to listen for related questions. For example, the question “Tell me about your strengths” is related to the more challenging question of “Why should we hire you?” If you can list your strengths, you should be able to answer the second question by showing how your strengths and expertise would add value to the organization. Another interview question that throws people is, “Tell me about yourself.” Many people do not expect such an informal question. If you wrote a cover letter for this position in which you told the reader about your background, then use the cover letter as a starting point to answer the question. Highlight your skills and accomplishments and share why you would like this job and how you would be a good fit for it.  Be careful that you are not confusing “Tell me more about yourself” with “tell me about your personal life”. The employer wants to hear about what your will bring to the organization professionally-not what is going on in your personal life.

Videotaping a mock interview is especially helpful because it can show you your body language and the unconscious messages it is sending. For example, raised or hunched shoulders may signal you are afraid,  while excessively shifting your weight around and fidgeting may indicate that you are very nervous or have something to hide. Seeing how you act on video will allow you to eliminate distracting behaviors and concentrate on providing solid answers to the interview questions. Practice the answers to the mock interview questions and monitor your body language until you feel comfortable enough to do a real interview and you will see how calm and collected you will be the next time you are sitting across the table from a hiring manger.

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