Should I Hire an Overqualified Candidate?

As we sift through our stack of resumes, we occasionally run across a job candidates that appear to have more experience and education than what a position needs. We look at the resume and say, “This person is overqualified for the job.” And we move on to look for a resume that indicates more appropriate qualifications.

Is this the right decision?

I have considered the conundrum overqualified candidates present for some time. And so let me quickly get to my answer on this issue: No, candidates should not be dismissed simply because they appear overqualified. Let’s first look at some reasons why we avoid hiring overqualified candidates:

1. We are afraid they will leave as soon as something better comes along.

They will be a waste of time and money. There is no way they will stay for any significant period of time. And there is nothing we can do to keep them.

2. We worry they will not like working for someone with less experience.

The chemistry will be horrific. They will get frustrated and annoyed by working for someone with less tenure and task-specific knowledge. And everyone will suffer because of it.

3. We feel we are unable to pay them enough.

They were at a higher level in the organizational chart with their prior job. There is no way we can pay what we think he or she received from that organization. And they will assume they should receive that same level of compensation.

And you probably have your own list of assumptions, some of them more valid than others. But there are good reasons why you should reconsider these overqualified candidates:

1. At face value, it makes sense.

You get more bang for your buck. There are very few moments in life where an exceeding of expectations results in hesitation. It makes more sense for us to get excited about overqualified candidates rather than being fearful of them.

2. Research shows these types of employees are high performers.

A 2009 study demonstrated that those who were considered overqualified for their job actually outperformed their peers. Most would consider this to be a positive.

3. They can raise the standard.

When you have an employee with experience, who is outperforming their peers, the bar will be raised for the rest of the team. Overqualified team members can provide a significant source of motivation.

4. You may be able to expand their role in the future.

The 2009 study indicated that empowerment could increase job satisfaction, intention to stay, and decrease voluntary turnover. Overqualified employees are prime candidates for expanded roles. Remember, you are never hiring just for today, but for tomorrow as well.

5. Your assumptions may be wrong.

We make a number of assumptions when it comes to overqualified candidates. Many of them may be unfounded. It is even possible that they might not be truly overqualified after all. They might be the perfect fit. Be careful not to dismiss the opportunity to have a great team member simply because you assumed.

Overqualified candidates’ experience and knowledge can make them a valuable team member. Organizations change and so do the roles within the organization. An overqualified team member may have the skills, knowledge, and experience needed not just for the current role, but for a future role as well. They just might be the team member that you desperately need.

What about you? What are your experience in hiring overqualified employees? Please let us know your thought in the comment section below.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “Should I Hire an Overqualified Candidate?

  1. I saw the title of this article and KNEW that the answer sadly would be NO.
    You people who do the hiring are really missing the boat on this one. Truly. You may be passing up a person that turns out to be just what you are looking for, someone who may be the diamond in the rough…. And lastly, someone who may be in their 50’s and in dire need of a job! I remember, when I was around 21, and working in Sausalito, Ca. at a clothing store.
    I was the Asst. Mgr. fo sorts, we had a girl walk in and apply, and my boss wasn’t going to hire her. But I talked her into it, this girl turned out to be one of the best employees and went to get hired elsewhere within a few months. Give someone, young or old and inexperienced or experienced a chance.

    I was laid off from a medical ( office ) job in Dec. 2012. I had been in the medical field since 1983 and didn’t think I’d have a problem getting hired, let alone even a grocery store. I was shocked that no one was calling me for interviews and I had applied high and low. Was it my age? I am nearing 60, but have a few years to go before hitting the big 6-0. Was it because I’d been laid off and out of work for MORE than 3 months at the time I started applying for work? Little did these places know that I’d been ill with Pneumonia and therefore could not seek employment, it took longer this time to recoup. Why wasn’t I being called for interviews and hired? I have since moved out of that state I lived in, remarried, and not yet ready to look for a job.
    I certainly hope that my time away from employment is NOT going to effect me where I live NOW. I have experience, I consider myself a valuable worker.

    If I were doing the hiring, I’d give me a chance, I’d give give young and old a chance.

    And oh, yes, it should be made illegal to check ones Credit Report, etc and judge a person in that way. Many people have fallen on hard times at no fault of their own and are struggling to make ends meet.

    To base hiring someone on their Credit Report is WRONG and the most asinine thing I have ever heard of.

  2. If we aren’t hiring from within, we are doing a terrible job of equipping the saints! Hiring from within solves all of the “unknown” problems.