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Cliff Montgomery: Q&A with the Career Coach

“Q&A with the Career Coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year Human Resources veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below:

Q: I recently interviewed for a job that I was very interested in, but understood that I was clearly overqualified for the role. The interview went well, but as I expected, I was rejected due to being “overqualified” for the position. If I apply for a position like this again, how do you suggest I handle it?

A: This is a challenging situation as one would like to think that hiring managers would want to hire the most experienced candidate. But studies have shown that often this doesn’t happen. Most hiring managers feel an “overqualified’ candidate would not be committed to the position, might not stay long, and be difficult to manage, and therefore most are more comfortable hiring the less qualified candidate.

If you find yourself interested a similar role in the future, I urge you to use your cover letter to highlight specific areas of the job and hiring organization that interest you and which may resonate with them. If you are selected for an interview, but told during it that you appear to be somewhat overqualified, you should be prepared to acknowledge this fact, but also explain specifically why you are interested in it and, if selected, why you would be committed to it.

With your experience, you can also go into depth about how you could grow the position so it will be responsive to an evolving environment, as well as being able to “hit the ground running,” and therefore requiring limited basic training. Lastly, you could also highlight the fact that your experience and background would make you promotable to other positions within the company in the future and therefore add to the overall talent base of the organization.

Q: I recently joined a very small company, and I find myself overwhelmed and behind in my workload. On top of this, I just found out that our boss is sponsoring a full-day “team building” event. Since I am so new and overloaded, I was thinking of asking my boss if I could skip the meeting so I could continue to work on my backlog. What do you think?

A: While I compliment you on your industriousness, I have to say that in my opinion, this event couldn’t come at a better time for you. One of the key challenges for any new employee is to assimilate quickly into the team and company, and this event sounds to me to be an outstanding opportunity for you to better get to know your boss and the team, and more importantly, for them to get to know you.

In today’s world, many employees find themselves perpetually behind in their workload so for you, this situation might not change. As a result, an event like this should be enthusiastically embraced; especially since your manager is sponsoring it. So, try to have fun ... your work will be waiting for you when you get back to the office.

Send your questions to Clifford E. Montgomery, CPC, executive and career coach in New Hope. He can be reached at 908-209-1642 or His website is