When They Say "You're Overqualified"

08/12/2010 12:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hi Liz,

I need a pithy response to the following statement:

"We don't hire overqualified people because they get bored."

I've encountered this attitude a lot and besides responding with, "So, you want someone dumber?" I can't come up with a good response. At this point I probably wouldn't want to work for the company, but I would like a good response.

Thanks, Crystal

Dear Crystal,

"You're overqualified" is a sales objection, like a client saying "The price is too high" or "I'm going to get my brother-in-law to install my cabinets, instead." When we run into a sales objection, we want to ask questions. Here's a possible scenario:

THEM: You've overqualified. You'd get bored.
YOU: So, tell me about that! You hired someone who was overqualified, and what happened -- they quit?
THEM: Yeah, they got bored and they quit.
YOU: Hmm, that's interesting. That must have been a disappointment for you, a waste of time and energy, right?
THEM: Right, and so we don't hire people like you anymore.
YOU: Okay. That makes sense. Probably you don't have other work, other projects that a person could work on, to avoid getting bored -- looking at the processes to make them more efficient, stuff like that?

Here's the fork in the road, because they'll either say "That's right. No extra work, no projects, it's a call center and we just need people to pick up the phone" and then you say "Awesome, thanks" and you bail -- or they'll say "Well, there might be some of that type of thing" in which case you'll ask another question, like "Have you ever had anyone with the time or inclination to look at the work, the forms, the filing systems, etc. and see if there might be faster, easier ways to get the work done?"

We learn something and we keep the focus on them (where it needs to be) when we ask questions. Our tendency in the face of a sales objection is to do a "Yeah but...." which pretty much never works. They know how they feel. Their dukes are up, as we used to say. We get the dukes down by saying "Okay, I gotcha ... can I ask a question about that?"

Best -- Liz

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