Qualifications: I am Enough

How do you answer the interview question about being over-qualified for a job? I believe you answer it with ‘I am enough.’ Learn how I tackled this question and other pieces of advice on interviewing.

Three people with their hands on their chins, looking up with a question on their face.

Think quick! How do you answer the question “Are you over-qualified for this position?”

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a senior student affairs position at a local college. The position fits my experiences, on paper. All of the staff I have met with were great. And the work seems like the kind that would bring me joy.

After the on-campus interview, I even had a follow-up interview with one of the senior academic deans. I feel great and needed this win. Even if I don’t get offered the position, it won’t be because I didn’t try my best.

And that has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially when I was asked a challenging question during the interview process.

I was asked if I thought I was over-qualified for the job. And in the first moment, I didn’t know how to initially answer.

How would you approach an interviewer who said you were overqualified?

How Do You Answer An Impossible Question?

I never know how to answer this strange question in an interview. In many ways, it feels almost impossible to feel like you get the answer right. Or that you’re going to highlight your skills with the right story or example.

Am I supposed to agree and backtrack on my employability and skills? Or do I disagree and still backtrack on my employability and skills? The question never makes much sense to me, and I always feel like I fumble the answer.

Until this time around. I said that I was enough. And then I began to elaborate instead.

I am enough.  Who I am is enough. What I do is enough, and what I have is enough.
This is exactly how I felt in that moment when I was asked if I was overqualified for a job.

I Am Enough.

After a year of really poor interviews and campus interactions, I felt defeated regarding my background and experiences. Nothing felt like it fit me and that I would have to sacrifice something in order to find a job that fit.

But something this time made me rethink my approach to my search.

In doing my research for the position, I didn’t have much to go on. They didn’t have a front-facing website that could be explored by an outsider. Some of the staff didn’t have job descriptions in their LinkedIn profiles for me to read and consider. So I knew I would need to do my story-telling based on the interview questions.

I am an excellent storyteller. Not every interviewer likes it. But I am great at creating context and showing passion. I knew this was going to be the way to share what I needed to share on the spot. But what to talk about?

I did something I felt was going to be a game changer for me. I was going to follow my own professional advice. So I re-read the last year of blog entries and here is what I learned.

My new life choice: taking my own advice seriously. Turns out, it worked for me!

Following My Own Advice

A few lessons were learned during this set of interviews.

What I learned: Trust my instincts. I knew going into this interview that I would need to listen carefully, since the interviews were 30 minutes long. So I listened to their questions, noting what was being asked. I was able to piece together a snapshot of the school that impressed the hiring manager by my carefully asked questions. And I had solutions for each piece I gathered. I know what I know and I have to believe that I know what to ask.

What I learned: My sense of humor is a community-builder. When I met with a couple of the stakeholders, we laughed and laughed. Even though we talked about crisis management and student deaths, we were able to find humor during our time together. Certainly I make people laugh, and I know when to turn on this skill. This skill isn’t a given for everyone and I should use it judiciously.

What I learned: I have executive-level experience. I often forget that I was an executive director for a fraternity. Not because it wasn’t important but because it wasn’t how I earned the money I lived on. But the experiences were incredibly relevant during these interviews. As the sole decision maker, I supervised staff and and I took that role seriously. I need to explore this experience more and more.

I Will Be Enough.

As I shared before, even if don’t get asked to work at the school I won’t be sad. I did my best. Answered the questions as an expert. Felt connected to the staff and faculty I spoke with. Ultimately, everything in my control was great, and I couldn’t ask for more.

Experts have shared tips on how to interview for jobs that are just outside of your skills. Ultimately I learned that you should know and understand the job, and connect with the hiring manager. Above all, believe you are enough, and others will begin to believe you too.

I have worked with entry-level and mid-level career professionals for nearly ten years, helping them reconsider their strengths and ways to learn new skills. Let me know if there is anything I can do to support you as you develop this new skill.

Schedule an introductory meeting so we can discuss a plan that works best for you.

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