It is an obvious win-win. A senior account executive is laid off, decides to reduce the stress in his life, and secures an interview for a sales rep position. Leaving the interview he is confident an offer will be forthcoming. He knows he nailed the interview. With 30+ years of experience there is no aspect of sales he has not mastered. Shock is followed by disbelief when the email arrives stating he was not selected for the position because he is overqualified. Should he have “dumbed down” his answers? Pretended he did not have the experience he had?
I have come to believe that when an employer tells a candidate he/she is overqualified they are really saying the candidate was overpowering. I encourage everyone preparing for an interview, especially those who are seeking less powerful positions, to think like an employer.
What does the employer want? Obviously the skills and experience highlighted on your resume, that is why you got the interview. But as the millennial generation (born after 1980) begins to interview and hire highly accomplished baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) the interview focus shifts from can he/she do the job to will they be a supportive team member or someone who wants to tell me how to run my operation?
All employers want to be respected and know their staff will help them achieve their goals. It is up to the older interviewee to prove to the younger manager that in addition to their professional skills they understand how to support and respect a supervisor of any age. How do you prove it? Frame answers to questions like “Tell me about yourself” to focus on how you have facilitated the achievements of previous supervisors. Go back to your early career experiences when you held support positions and share how you helped your department/supervisor achieve success. And most importantly, ask questions that show you do want to know how your new boss prefers things to be done.