26

I have been working in IT for over 20 years now, and had another career before that.

My problem is that I don't want, and can't take the stress of the positions I am qualified for. The stress will literally kill me. I can handle lower stress/responsibility positions with no problem at all, but I keep getting hit with "Aren't you overqualified".

Of course, they want to know why someone who could command a much higher salary seems to be "settling" for their company and position. I know this sets off one of two red flags in either "What's wrong with him" or "He's just looking for a filler position"

How can I handle the "over qualified" quesitons for positions I actually do want as a permanent position?

Since this has been flagged, let me explain how this is different. I do not merely have to account for being overqualified but deal with the reason being that I suffered a stroke, and the stress from continuing on the level I was on would likely trigger another one. While it is illegal to ask about medical issues, it is NOT illegal to ask about being overqualified. So this question is BOTH about being overqualified AND about having medical issues which require me to take a step back in job level.

  • Even if this fact is true, I would avoid using the phrase "the stress will literally kill me" when you give your explanation to a would-be employer. – Brandin Feb 17 '16 at 11:42
  • 1
    Well, I'm not trying to tell this to employers, just asking for advice and explaining to the group why I cannot go back to doing what I was doing. – Retired Codger Feb 17 '16 at 13:14
  • 1
    I looked at the overqualified question, it's not the same issue for me. – Retired Codger Feb 17 '16 at 14:37
  • 2
    I also don't think this is a duplicate of the "overqualified" question. I'd be interested in answers, too, as I'm in a somewhat similar situation, where I simply can't work at my previous (very high) level any longer. – jamesqf Feb 17 '16 at 18:53
  • 1
34

The truth sounds like your friend here. You're not settling, there isn't some problem that you're hiding, you're just making a work-life trade-off that makes sense for you today.

I've seen plenty of people that have taken a step back from the career ladder perspective to get a better quality of life. It's perfectly reasonable to say something like "I enjoyed my X years as a Senior Widget Maker and I learned a lot but doing that job well meant that I was spending a huge amount of time focused on widget making. At this point in my life, I'm really eager to move into a role where I can spend more time outside work with my family/ enjoying my hobbies/ whatever floats your boat. Working as a Widget Polisher here at Acme lets me leverage all the widget making skills I've built up while giving me the freedom to leave widget making in the office at the end of the day."

  • 4
    Does not it sound like "I do not have it in me anymore" or "I burnt out"? – PM 77-1 Feb 16 '16 at 23:01
  • 1
    @PM 77-1, well It sounds like the OP doesn't want it to sound like that which is why this is an excellent answer! – Octopus Feb 16 '16 at 23:10
  • 4
    @PM77-1 I think the key here is to avoid sounding negative. Don't say "I don't have it in me to do X", instead say "I want to do Y (instead)". The meaning may be the same, but the impression you leave is different. – Brandin Feb 17 '16 at 11:44
  • 6
    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'. We are not now that strength which in old days. Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are -Tennyson – Retired Codger Feb 17 '16 at 15:19
12

I can handle lower stress/responsibility positions with no problem at all, but I keep getting hit with "Aren't you overqualified".

How can I handle the "over qualified" questions for positions I actually do want as a permanent position?

You simply tell them the truth about your medical condition forcing you to look for a lower-stress position.

That way, you'll get feedback as to if this lower-level position is indeed lower-stress, or just lower-pay. In which case you'll need to look elsewhere.

If you don't tell them the real issue, they can't help you, and will suspect your motives.

While it is illegal to ask about medical issues, it is NOT illegal to ask about being overqualified.

It's not illegal for an interviewer to discuss your medical condition with you, if you tell them about it.

  • 1
    Don't share your medical information with anyone except your health care provider. There's a reason medical questions aren't allowed in job interviews. – empty May 31 '18 at 22:16
  • 1
    @empty The reason that medical questions are not allowed is because it could lead to unfair discrimination. Joe recommends giving medical information yourself because it puts you into a better light. – gnasher729 Jun 2 '18 at 22:20
  • @gnasher729 understood. Medical info in this case would be a very bad idea. One more reason for disriminating. – empty Jun 3 '18 at 2:25
2
+150

Some comments have mentioned that you should not disclose your medical information with your employer or interviewer, so I will be answering with that in mind.

How can I handle the "over qualified" questions for positions I actually do want as a permanent position?

Explain to them that you have a medical issue that can be triggered by stress, which is why you decided to leave your senior position. Keep it generic and don't reveal more than you have to. This avoids the possibility of them thinking that you have burned out and not hiring you because you might be more of a liability to them.

The interviewer doesn't want to hire someone who is overqualified that just sits around doing nothing in the name of a better work/life balance. You should be convincing the interviewer that you will perform to the best of your ability even in this "lesser" position, and that you're not going to be using this position as a filler position.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.