Ask the Coach: Is it a bad idea to hire someone who is overqualified for the job?

August 31st, 2018

Today’s job market is filled with many options to fill positions, just one of which are people who are very experienced, perhaps even overqualified for a job. I often hear from experienced individuals applying for jobs that they are dismissed because they are too ‘experienced’. However, from an employer’s perspective, I believe employers can gain a wealth of experience, new ideas and knowledge if they’re willing to look further and not dismiss someone merely for their ‘over qualifications’.

Here are some of the positives to consider:

1. Someone who is overqualified brings a wealth of experience and new ideas to the job that you may not find with someone who is less experienced or newer to the job market.

2. The training or speed of ramping up on the job may be faster with someone who has had more experience. You get the value of a shorter learning curve in many cases.

3. The ‘overqualified’ individual may add more value than someone less experienced simply because they have more experience, wisdom and learning to rely on and share with others. You may also benefit from a large network they’ve tapped into during their career.

When it comes to looking at people that are ‘overqualified’ the biggest pitfall I see is when managers, or interviewers, make assumptions about how that person will feel or act. For example:

1. They won’t be intellectually challenged, will be bored or unsatisfied with taking a ‘lower’ position.

2. They will want too much money.

3. They will leave for another opportunity soon causing turnover in the position.

There’s only one person that can answer these questions, and that’s the candidate.

What is the answer? Here’s what I think is most important when considering an overqualified candidate:

1. Check in with your ego. Get real and ask yourself: Can my ego handle someone who is smarter or more experienced than I am working for me?

2. Identify all your assumptions (they won’t be challenged, they will leave for another opportunity, etc.) and talk with the candidate directly about them. Be clear about your concerns and get clear about why they want the job.

3. List out what they bring to the table. What do you gain from their experiences? Are they a good fit with the organization and its people? Culture fit is equally, and even sometimes more important than experience.

4. Carefully consider what you’re willing to pay for their experience, credentials, etc. Are you willing to pay more to gain additional skills and experience, and if not, are they willing to work within your budget?

Do not fear the overqualified candidate! Embrace what they bring and evaluate them for the job as any other candidate. In the end, you’re looking for the best fit and the best person for the job.

For more career, sales, and leadership advice please contact our coaches
Joe Micallef – Sales Coach – email, or call (773) 329 0066
Donna Flynn – Career/Management Coach – email, or call (630) 624-4319