_Why would an overqualified candidate apply to a position that is beneath their experience and salary level? There are a number of possible reasons. And often it's a question of non-monetary factors. _
So for employers' the candidate's motivation obviously becomes the most important question, and the answers could definitely take anyone by surprise.
[Sources at the end]
From line cook to manager
Not an employer, but when I was a freshman in college, I worked in the dining hall with a line cook who had been a corporate financial manager at a large local corporation. His company had gone under and laid off almost everyone, and he was having a hard time finding a new position.
He was friends with the head of dining services and ended up working as a line cook.
I’m pretty sure he got promoted very quickly to management, causing some bitter feelings among the other cooks. My understanding was that the company knew they’d have a management position open several months after he applied, so they asked him to work as a cook until the position opened.
As a student worker, he was the nicest man I worked with, and an incredibly hard worker. I was glad when I came back the next academic year and found him as a manager, and I hope he’s doing well now. “
Can I drive instead?
I worked as HR at an amusement Park.
A guy came in who wanted to drive the little train that goes around the park. He’d been an arson and murder investigator for 30 years in a major US city and now just wanted to relax and drive this little train.
After much begging from us he eventually agreed to become the new security manager, but only if we promised to let him drive the train on his days off. “
Need something to keep the lights on
When I was a manager at Gamestop back in 2009/2010, I had a guy apply for a store associate position.
The guy had a masters in marketing. In his interview, I asked him why he was applying for a job he was so over qualified for and he said the marketing firm he worked at before closed down suddenly and he needed something to keep the lights on while he searched for a better job.
He got the position and was actually still there when I left Gamestop. I recommended him to our regional manager as my replacement. Don’t know if he got it or not though.”
Feels weird to be his supervisor as I am a high school dropout
” I hired a man with a bachelor’s in psychology, a masters in sociology, and a masters in anthropology with 20 years of teaching college experience, as a janitor.
I don’t know why he doesn’t teach anymore, but he was having a really hard time finding a entry level job and he really needs the insurance as he has a life threatening illness that is being controlled with medication.
Absolutely great employee and very interesting to converse with. It feels weird to be his supervisor as I am a high school dropout. “
An over qualified bitter experience
” I was hiring someone to do some basic data entry work and was paying like $10/hr or something and was expecting to hire a student or something.
I had a guy submit everything properly, and he was mid 30s with over a decade of engineering experience from a top college. I couldn’t fathom why he was applying for the job.
He ended up storming off from the interview. So I suppose he was just bitter about something. “
Needed a second chance at life
” I had a highly qualified accountant apply for a waitress job.
She was in prison and nobody wanted to hire her, but I offered her a second chance.
No regrets there, some people are just going through some rough times.”
You changed me
” My mom hired a guy who had killed someone in the past. They guy was drunk when he got in a fight and punched someone who fell, hit his head and died.
When my mother left the place for a new job, he pulled her aside and said she really changed his life.
She says he was a great guy and hard worker, just had made a mistake. “
No questions asked
” Back in 2009, when I worked at a fast food chain, we had a guy with a master’s degree and 20+ years of experience in banking apply for the cashier spot. “
Working keeps my my body working
” I worked with a guy who was a former business executive. He was a very intelligent guy so we had some really interesting conversations.
We both made $8/hr in a call center. I was trying to make extra cash in between my IT jobs, and he was just retired and bored sitting at home alone all day, living of his considerable assets.
Still, he was one of the hardest working guys in the company. “
Experience (in the field) matters
” A scientist (a physicist I believe) with over 20 years of research at the University of Cambridge in his work history applied for a very basic administrative job. He, however, was denied for having a lack of relevant work experience.
He applied to replace me btw – I was leaving that job. I was 19 or so and it was my job while I was at university. “
Fed up with the politics
” My coworkers interviewed a super-overqualified guy for a low-end retail position at the bank I work at.
He was an eagle scout, went to a prestigious college, was always the topper of his class, had won a bunch of scholarships, and had basically sold his entire childhood to volunteer work.
His resume was impressive but apparently, he was just fed up with corporate politics at a very well known company he had just quit.
He was instead offered a job in one of the upper departments where I work. “
Nuclear power engineer to book keeper
” I had a nuclear power engineer apply for an entry level, part-time bookkeeping position.
Since she moved her children across country, her custody agreement prevented her from working full time until her children were in college. She was great and loved accounting. She now works for fundraising in private high schools. “
Surgeon turned janitor
The janitor at my high-school was actually a highly qualified surgeon in Vietnam!
He moved to America to get a better life for his son but he couldn’t speak English very well so couldn’t find anything better for himself. He basically took that job because it let his kid go to that private school for free.
As soon as his kid graduated he quit.
It was a dream until I realized I am actually awake
” I was once a member of a community theatre board. All the members had day jobs and we pretty much ran the theatre in our spare time.
No one was paid. Our production budget per play was $500, which barely bought the paint and construction material, let alone costumes and props. As you might guess, we were a struggling theatre, and the fact that no one was paid meant that we always had a hard time getting anyone to help out, build sets, run the lights and sounds, etc.
Well, we were about to put on a production of the play Doubt, a play about a nun/school principal accusing a Catholic priest of doing something improper with a young student (they made a movie about it in 2008 with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman), when one of our board members received an email from a gentleman that said he was in area for a while and looking to help out a community theatre, he said he had some experience with running crews, set building, lights and sound, etc. He apparently saw our show announcement and wanted to help out with our production of Doubt.
To me sounded like our dream came true, but this board member, rather than welcoming him with open arms, demanded to see a resume first, because you know, beggars apparently CAN be choosers.
He sends his resume over, and as it turns out, he not only had experience in running crews, but also done a lot of other things on set for the 2008 movie Doubt with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman! “
Sometime’s it’s for (evil) happiness
” A senior executive at a huge company went through a really bad divorce and he somehow found a way of basing the alimony payments only off his salary and not his assets.
Then he promptly quit his high paying job and got a low-level job at a sporting goods shop. Now he could still live off his investments and his wife doesn’t get much from him.
Apparently, he was always on time and worked hard on his new sporting goods job, fuelled by the happy knowledge that he had won. “
Sometimes it takes only 3 days to know
” Years ago I was an office manager for a kitty litter plant and I did do some hiring as part of that gig.
A guy came to apply to work on the production line, he had a 3-page resume with a Master’s degree and numerous publications, extensive community involvement, etc. I flat out asked him why he wants to be slinging 30-lbs boxes of kitty litter on the assembly line all day. He told me it was because a friend of his got into amazing shape very quickly and he found out it was thanks to working at our plant.
We were short, so I figured why stereotype and told him he could start the next day.
Funny enough, he lasted a grand total of 3 days on the production line! “
“I don’t blame her”
” While I was interviewing candidates for Customer Service positions in a call center. I ended up interviewing a very interesting women.
This woman was a Navy medic, trained in combat situations, had a couple of degrees and was basically the last person I expected to see sitting across from me.
I accepted her for the position but she never accepted the job offer.
I don’t blame her. “
Moving and packaging
” A friend of mine once put an ad on Craigslist. $20 for a couple hours to help her load a moving truck. One guy sent his full resume with details of work experience in the moving and packaging! “
Designer turned salesman
” I am not the boss but the electronics store I work at is staffed by me, a librarian, and a guy with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. This guy literally designed some of the technology we sell.
We live in a tiny retirement town full of interesting people though. “
The guy keeping kids from sneaking off campus is literally a rocket scientist.
” There’s a man currently working at my old high school with a master’s in aerospace engineering and a couple other degrees. He has worked for NASA and was one of the man who helped design the craft that put men on the moon.
He works as the guy who checks to see if you have been signed out before you leave campus and has got an amazing sense of humor. He has this air about him that just makes him fun to talk too.
I spoke to him about his life a couple times; it’s just weird to think that the guy keeping kids from sneaking off campus is literally a rocket scientist. “
For the best
” I had 18 years experience working in a scratch bakery as a baker and full time cake decorator. Also years of high end restaurant experience as a side side job.
I quit the side job and few years later wanted a part time job to save money to move to Hawaii.
After being rejected for kitchen jobs at two fast food chains I finally found a place that hired me as a driver. It was for the best. I loved working with those guys. And now I live in Hawaii. “
Gotta start somewhere
” I was a supervisor at a restaurant where the hostess had masters in hospitality and tourism management.
She had never worked before because she was always in school and had to start off somewhere. “
Airplane washer in Hawaii sounds better than retiring
” I worked a few weeks on a “data coding” project for a now-defunct airline that was being sued for discrimination in hiring. It seems some big shot upper management type was let go from his six figure position but stayed with the company as a airplane washer in Hawaii, because of the $20 standby airfare employee benefit! “
Rethinking my future
“I worked in a warehouse where all 6 people I worked with were on minimum wage and had PHDs.”
Note: Comments have been edited for clarity.