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Are You “Too Experienced for the Role”?

This has to be one of the big gripes for job seekers (after the lack of communication gripe!).  

Being annoyed is totally fair enough because being told that you are unsuccessful for a role because you are too experienced is frankly one of the worst explained reasons for why you didn’t get the job. After all – the employer should be happy that they are getting more than they asked for in the role right?

As with most things; it pays to take some time to understand the situation from others perspective in order to appreciate their reasoning:


It is hard to hire people.  The process always takes longer than you think and you are outside your comfort zone.  Additionally – hiring just costs. The cost is money if you use an agency, and time/sanity/workload if you try to do it yourself.  All you want is a nice person who can do a good job and fit in well with the team. Is it too much to hope for?

So when a candidate applies to the role and are well overqualified for it, this is the kind of thing that many employers might think:

  • If I offer you the job, I will be worried that you will up and leave because you could get a job better than this.
  • If I offer you the job, you might turn around in 6 months and want a pay rise because of your experience (this is even worse if there are people with your experience hired in more senior roles within the organisation).
  • It doesn’t make sense – why would a more qualified person want a less qualified role?
  • You will be bored in no time and I will be back having to re-hire this role.
  • You might have as much experience as me, and that is a little bit uncomfortable.


A recruiters job is to source the talent that their client is seeking.  This involves taking a job order and understanding not just the requirements of the role, but also the profile of the ideal candidate.  When discussing a role, the ideal candidate profile is set as part of the search.

So when you apply to a recruitment agency for a role with one of their clients and you are well overqualified for the role; this is what the recruiter might think:

  • You’ve got a good profile, but I’ll be wasting your time and my clients time putting you forward for the role as the client doesn’t want to consider anyone over qualified for the role (refer reasoning above).
  • The client has asked me to look for a specific profile and if I put this person forward, they will think I don’t understand what they are looking for.
  • There are people who are better suited to the role because they do it all the time and have worked in similar environments so I know they will do a great job for my client.
  • You would be better placed to apply for the role at your level but is there a reason why you haven’t?

It is a difficult situation, because for many people, they are happy taking a more junior role at a more junior pay rate. However it is a more risky hire for employers and for that reason, many employers choose not to progress.

So, if you are told that you are overqualified for the role – take heart. Hiring Managers are just trying to do their job, to mitigate hiring risk and to make sure that they have a long term solution to their vacancy.

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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