Questions to Ask an Overqualified Candidate

Every once in a while someone will apply to one of your positions that is vastly overqualified for the job. Some companies jump at the chance to hire this type of applicant. Others never do, telling the candidate that they simply have too much experience for such a low level position.
Both of these viewpoints are incorrect. Overqualified candidates are a risk – companies that jump at the chance to hire an overqualified applicant often find that the person they hired is bossy or leaves quickly for a better position with better pay, thereby costing the company money.
Companies that never hire an overqualified applicant may be missing out on a potential rock star within their organization – or at the very least someone that meets their needs.
Asking the Right Questions
You simply need to make sure that you ask the right questions. You need to make sure that you’re hiring someone that will want to stay with your organization, while also making sure they have the right personality for the job. Overqualified applicants are usually still “qualified” applicants, so the key is to find out whether they’re going to be a good fit for the role and how much you can expect them to contribute. That’s why you should consider the following questions:

  • Why are you applying to a position you are overqualified for?

Cut straight to the point and find out why they’re applying. In some cases you may find that their answer tells you everything you needed to know. For example, many companies only hire young up and comers now, and this individual may be an older applicant that has decided they simply want to work in the field after being laid off for someone younger. Overqualified applicants that have struggled to find work because their field has changed may be more than willing to take any work that comes to them, while still having the skills to complete the job well.

  • What are your goals within the organization? Or what kind of growth do you expect?

You also want to find out if the individual expects to move up quickly. If they do, that can be a sign that they think they’re just getting in the ground floor and won’t be in the job for long. That’s obviously not what you want. You want someone that will be happy to grow in the organization, but not someone that expects to, especially not right away. After all, you have that specific position open for a reason. This question helps answer that concern.

  • We consider this position closer to entry level. What do you think about that?

You also want to see how they feel about the position itself, in terms of its place in the company. This question helps you get an idea of what they think about entry level jobs. Was that really what they were looking for? Do they look down on them? Are they surprised by the question? Maybe you’ll find some insight into why they’re choosing that career that can help you make a decision.
All Hiring is Risk/Reward
It makes sense that there is an aversion to hiring overqualified applicants, but it’s never about whether a person is over or under qualified. The question is always whether they’re going to contribute to your organization in the short and long term. If an overqualified applicant has the potential to be a great contributor, it may be worth the risk – just as sometimes it’s worth the risk to hire an under qualified applicant that shows a considerable amount of potential.
If you’re looking for someone to navigate the hiring world for you, make sure that you contact us today. We’re Sydney’s leading recruitment company, and we want to show you what we can do.