Should you hire overqualified candidates?

Whenever you advertise an employment position you’re sure to receive resumes from people who, by all measure, are overqualified. Sure, it’s always wise to upgrade the level of talent in your company with people who could make some big contributions. But it’s also good to be a little cautious when hiring people that look like they’re taking a step down. You want motivated employees to work for you, but you also don’t want to pay someone while they continue their job search.

Given these factors, how can you determine if overqualified candidates should be weeded out or given serious consideration? Here are some points to consider:

How long will you need them?

Sometimes hiring a very experienced person is worth it no matter how long you keep them. They may have deep industry or technical knowledge that would benefit your company even if they only have a short tenure.

For other companies with a high turnover rate, real value can be gained even if the employee only stays for six months. Also, if a sales organization can hire top sales people, they can still get their money’s worth from even a short term of employment. In all these situations, there is limited downside to hiring someone whose experience exceeds the requirements of your position.

Do they have passion for your job and your company?

Candidates with superior qualifications should exhibit more excitement for your role than do other candidates. Look for people who are excited by the challenges your position offers. After all, they should be working for you because they want to, not because they have to. If you don’t sense real excitement about the job, don’t hire them. Most likely your job will just be a placeholder until they find the job they really want.

What are their goals?

When we conduct an interview we explore a candidates’ past accomplishments. However, with overqualified candidates, make sure to spend time exploring their goals for the future. What does success look like to them for their careers? Based on their answers, do you think your company offers them a good path to achieving their goals? If not, chances are that you will be their stepping stone not their final destination.

Do you offer work/life balance?

Your company may offer quality of life that the overqualified job applicant cannot get from a larger company or a more demanding position. They may value a more laid-back work environment or a life/work balance that isn’t available elsewhere. As a result, you can turn the overqualified applicant into a valuable, long-term member of your team.

If you’re offering a package that includes a better lifestyle for job seekers, don’t just accept applications from overqualified people, actively seek them out. They want you as much as you want them.

Can you “try them before you buy them?”

Any opportunity to hire a job seeker on a temporary basis is worth exploring. Chances are, overqualified applicants are also unemployed. Structure a temporary role or consulting engagement for them that allows you to get a feel for one another. It won’t take long for both of you to figure out if it’s the right fit.

Hiring overqualified candidate takeaways

There are a lot of reasons why overqualified candidates don’t work out. But the occasional gem that you find makes it worth your time to take these candidates seriously. Look at the opportunity you offer from the candidate’s point of view. What does your job give them? Are they passionate about working for you? Can you offer them a balance of work and life? All of these factors can help you decide if you should extend an offer.

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