Why Are You Interested in a Lower-Level Position?

How to Answer Interview Questions About Applying for a Lower-Level Job

man waiting in office lobby for job interview
Chris Ryan/Caiaimage/Getty Images

It is not uncommon for workers who are older, unemployed, over stressed, balancing family commitments or simply tired of working too hard to want to seek a lower-level position.

The hiring manager may ask you why you are interested in a lower level job than your qualifications would suggest. The challenge in landing such a position can be convincing employers that you will be fully invested in your work and not just looking to take it easy.

Why Do You Want a Lower Level Job? How to Respond

You will typically be asked to explain why you are willing to give up status, pay and responsibility. The best approach is to frame your answer positively with a focus on the attractive elements of your target job. So, you will be explaining why you are moving towards the lower level job as opposed to away from your higher level position.

Make a list of the most appealing activities associated with your target job. Think of examples of when you have carried out similar tasks and applied similar skills in the past, noting what you enjoyed about these aspects of the job. Be ready to reference the success you achieved in those situations and the level of satisfaction which you derived. Also, come equipped with any positive feedback or outcomes of your work. 

Connect Your Previous Job to the New, Lower-Level Position

Look for any connections between the attractive aspects of your current or most recent job and the target job.

For example, as an engineering director, the most energizing aspect of your current work might be troubleshooting design problems confronting your team of engineers. This reference would support your intention to get back on the front lines doing engineering work as opposed to management tasks.

Outline Additional Reasons

To support your case for moving toward a lower-level job, make sure to mention any supporting reasons for the change.

It may be the case that you find yourself with a reduced need for income during the current phase of your life, particularly if you originally took on the higher level job primarily for the income. For example, you may have children who have now graduated college or you may have downsized your home.

If you're applying for an hourly job vs. a salaried or management position, you could mention that you were working a significant number of hours each week, and you're now looking for less responsibility and a somewhat lighter work load.

Whatever the supporting reasons, the key will be to pair these statements with one regarding your passion for your target position. You want to make a well-considered and well-rounded case for your new career trajectory. To strengthen your case, consider ending the interview with the question, "Are there any concerns you have about my employment that I have not yet answered?" Deliver this query in a confident and enthusiastic tone, and you'll be sure to quell any worries your potential new employer will have.

More Job Interview Questions and Answers

Interview Questions and Answers
Typical job interview questions and sample answers.

Interview Questions to Ask
Questions for job candidates to ask the interviewer.

Interview Tips for Older Job Seekers

Suggestions to help mature job seekers be prepared and confident.