Help me choose a career!
June 6, 2005 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Today at a job interview for a marketing position at a law firm, the lady interviewing me expressed her concern that I would find the job boring because I am overqualified for it. My question has two parts: how do you respond when an interviewer tells you something like that? And, if I'm so overqualified for this marketing job, what kind of job should I be looking for?

I graduate in a few days with a degree in linguistics. My resume is sort of bare, but contains a couple of gems like a high position in student government and a newspaper editing job.
The three fields I'm most interested in are law, politics, and journalism. Am I underestimating my potential? What kinds of jobs should I be applying for?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I believe this is HR code for "We're too cheap to pay you what you're worth." Don't be heartbroken if they don't hire you.

You should be applying for jobs you think you'd enjoy. Really - taking a job that pays more but doesn't make you want to go in every day is not a good choice (if you have that choice).
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:10 PM on June 6, 2005


"I applied for this job because I thought I'd enjoy it. Why do you think I'm overqualified?"

"Well, you're overqualified because this is a very basic job for someone with a low-level business/marketing degree, and we're paying accordingly."

"Since I'm a recent graduate and I don't really have an intuitive feel for these things yet, is there a position with your firm that you think I'd be more suited for?"

"No, not really."

"To help improve my intuition, could you maybe describe the job that you think I'd be suited for?"
posted by SpecialK at 6:39 PM on June 6, 2005


If I can be egotistical, just to provide some examples:

I've been overqualified for every job I've ever applied for. I've only ever gotten two jobs without knowing someone on the inside (consulting aside). As far as I can tell, you need to convince the interviewer that this is exactly what you want to be doing. Being told you are overqualified is an easy out for the interviewer.

They are worried that you will be bored and quit, or you really aren't the person they are looking for.

I just interviewed for two jobs last week. Same company. One short term, one long term, but not starting for at least a year. I was completely overqualified for both, but honestly, they were both perfect fits. I got one of them, and did not get the other. The word "overqualified" came up more than once in both interviews, but I clicked with one of the guys, and we realized we were on the same page. No click with the other guy.
posted by bh at 6:45 PM on June 6, 2005


"...you think I'd be suited for."

"Well, not an editor, apparently."

:)

To the "overqualified" comment, if it's at which I'm of the opinion that I'd be well suited, I typically reference the Woody Harrelson line from that Robert Redford movie: "Fine, I'm overqualified. Exploit me."
posted by thanotopsis at 6:45 PM on June 6, 2005


As bh said, they're afraid they'll spend money hiring you and getting you up to speed and that you'll get bored and quit for a better job in six months. Your task is to convince them that you won't, either because you find the work fascinating and rewarding, or because your loyalty is such that you wouldn't quit even if the work was dull, or ideally both.

Since this is a law firm, you might be able to get to the latter point by offering to sign a binding contract for, say, three years.
posted by bac at 7:15 PM on June 6, 2005


I think I'd point to the bare resume and say that you're trying to flesh it out with some solid work experience while... [and then insert reason you will stay put in a job you're overqualified for for some time into the future]. For me, this was "I have a partner in law school and I need to stay busy for three years until he graduates"
posted by jessamyn at 9:03 PM on June 6, 2005


I agree with bh and bac on this... I've been asked the question not because I'm so unbelievably overqualified, but because they want to make sure I'm not using the job as a convenient stepping stone to something better. You're supposed to prove that you find the job compelling, and to point out ways that you could grow in the position.
posted by hamster at 9:57 PM on June 6, 2005


I pretty much agree with hamster, they're concerned that you are just filling in time and will be off to bigger things as soon as possible. I would suggest you stay away from jessamyn's suggestion for this reason. Maybe take a swing at telling them how long you think might be a reasonable amount of time for you to stay in the job, maybe stretching out the figure you give as you can't be held to it. What may be helpful for next time is to have convinced them by the time the question comes along that you are really interested in the job. You will often get a good chance at this early on as asking why you want a job is a common question but you should also be able to twist other answers to the same end.
posted by biffa at 3:36 AM on June 7, 2005


As bh said, they're afraid they'll spend money hiring you and getting you up to speed and that you'll get bored and quit for a better job in six months. Your task is to convince them that you won't, either because you find the work fascinating and rewarding, or because your loyalty is such that you wouldn't quit even if the work was dull, or ideally both.

Ding! At least, that's why I didn't hire any of several people that I felt were overqualified recently. They would've been fed up with all the clerical work and wanted my job in about six months. If you're really okay with doing stuff that's boring, tell them that you understand that you're young and relatively inexperienced and that you realize that you have to pay your dues before you would expect a promotion.
posted by desuetude at 11:59 AM on June 7, 2005


Well, thanks everyone for all the good advice- I'll definitely keep it in mind for next time I have an interview- hopefully, that won't be for a while. I ended up getting a job offer the next day after my interview!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:14 PM on June 8, 2005


Hey, congratulations!
posted by hamster at 2:26 PM on June 9, 2005


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