One of the first issues they teach you in recruitment is that sometimes you’re going to receive an application from a candidate that is overqualified for the position, and that even though you may be tempted to make the hire, you should strongly consider avoiding them. The reasons for this are justifiable, and can occur often in recruitment, including:
- Overqualified candidates are more likely to leave for a better paying position.
- Overqualified candidates may be bossy, or not ready to take orders.
- Overqualified candidates are unlikely to be satisfied or try as hard with easy work.
- Overqualified candidates may expect recognition and movement up the ladder.
These are all perfectly valid issues that can come up when hiring an overqualified candidate, and considerations that you should strongly take into account as you decide who to hire. But does that mean you should never hire an overqualified candidate? Not necessarily.
Reasons You May Want to Hire an Overqualified Candidate
Instead of focusing only on the negative, there are reasons that hiring an overqualified candidate can be beneficial. Yes, it comes with risks, but in some cases it may be valuable to take the risks in order to receive the reward. Consider the following:
- Overqualified Candidates Are Often Talents
First, in order to become an “overqualified candidate,” the person had to have enough talent to continue to grow in their previous position. Talent always has value.
If they look like someone that knows the industry inside and out, and they appear to be someone that can contribute, then what you’re really hiring is someone with talent, and any time you hire a great talent you’re accepting some degree of risk, since people will always try to steal talent away. It’s better to have talent than to not have talent, and an overqualified candidate can bring that to the position.
- Desire for Growth Can Be Valuable
If you are a very small business that is simply unlikely to promote anyone, then an overqualified candidate may not be for you. But if you can open positions up for thriving employees, and you have roles that they can play in your company someday, then that desire for growth within your company can be to your advantage, as it’s possible they’ll contribute not only at the position, but at future positions as well.
- You Can Acknowledge and Set Expectations
Overqualified candidates generally know that they are overqualified. You also know that they are overqualified. There is nothing stopping you from having a conversation before you make the hire with the applicant, tell them your concerns and your expectations for the position, and see if they are still interested. Sure, some applicants will lie to you, or will start at the job only to realize they are unhappy. But others will be honest, and understand where you are coming from as a company.
- People Have Reasons
Similarly, an overqualified candidate that is looking for work often has a reason for applying for a job under their traditional pay grade or experience. Some of these individuals may be looking for a change in careers, or were ready to give up on the pressure that their role entailed. In some cases there are perfectly valid reasons for an overqualified applicant to be applying. You can ask about this at the interview.
Making Smart Hires
Yes, there are many valid reasons that you should overlook an overqualified candidate. There are also many benefits to hiring a candidate that is overqualified.
Rather than overlook or hire any group, take into consideration the value they can bring, who they are, and whether or not they have talent. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions that help you determine whether or not they are going to provide value to your company and consider them just as you would any talented candidate with risks.