By JIM PAWLAK
You thought the interview went well. Then you got a call from a human resources staffer. “You’re overqualified” was the message. Just what does overqualified mean? After all, you weren’t overqualified before the interview. An employer wouldn’t waste time interviewing people who were overqualified.
If you hear those dreaded words, it means you flunked the interview. You talked your way out of a job not into one. How? Probably by talking too much about your total work experience rather than focusing on those experiences that apply directly to the position for which you’re interviewing.
In an effort to impress, you may have told the interviewer about tasks on your last job that aren’t part of the new position. That waves a red flag that you may become bored, and you’re not a good fit. Oops. That isn’t what a prospective employer wants to hear.
How can you avoid foot-in-mouth disease? By remembering that the key to a winning interview is the same as that of a successful sales call. Sales are made because the product satisfies a customer’s needs. The bells and whistles don’t matter.
A savvy salesperson finds out what their prospect needs before starting his/her presentation. Uncover the customer’s hot buttons by asking questions and taking cues from the target’s answers.
How can you find out what an interviewer needs? Start by asking questions instead of answering them. As soon as you can, get the interviewer to go over the job description to pinpoint what the job entails and how it relates to other areas of the firm. Ask questions like: “What are the key job functions?”, “What are the top priorities?”, “What are your ninety-day, six-month and one-year expectations for the person who fills the job?”, “What traits are needed to be successful in the job?” and “Who are the key people and departments the job holder will interact with?”
These probe the interviewer in a positive, non-threatening manner and show your interest in the job, the department and the firm. Their answers will show you how to tailor a discussion of your experience to the job’s qualifications and the interviewer’s needs. You’ll also have a good idea of what types of questions other interviewers are apt to ask.
In addition to talking too much about experience that is meaningless to interviewers, there is another subject that often ends up tagging a job hunter as overqualified. That subject is compensation. All too frequently, overqualified really means: “We can’t pay you what you were making.”
Usually, job hunters that strike out on the compensation issue name their price before finding out what the company is willing to pay.
How do you work around the issue? Three ways: 1. Do some research on the going price for the position. There are all sorts of local, state and federal salary surveys available at the library and online; salary.com offers free and premium services. Contact professional associations for salary information, too. Unless a firm’s salary structure is completely out of whack with the reality of the labor market, your survey results should put you in the ballpark.
Armed with this knowledge, you can respond to a question about compensation one of three ways: 1. “Some recent surveys from (insert sources) indicate pay for similar positions ranges from $X to $Y. That’s workable for me.”
2. Taking a page from Successful Selling 101, a salesperson will ask about a customer’s budget before quoting a price. Job hunters can apply that same technique by asking about the pay range for the position. Just don’t be the first to bring up the compensation issue.
3. Respond with a non-specific answer like: “Compensation isn’t what drives me. I’m looking for a job that challenges me to do my best every day. I’m sure your firm would fairly compensate me for the work I would do.”
Article found at http://jobs.palmbeachpost.com/stories/jobs_wisdom2_main.html.