Selecting Overqualified Candidates

When HR of an organizations are given a mandate to hire for a position or role, it may seem challenging firstly because the supply being higher than the demand, given the current economic and job situation in the country. Secondly, the high expectations of the recruiters for the position. Ask head-hunter’s about talent and most will respond that ‘good talent is scarce’.

In light of this situation when over-qualified candidates apply for a position, recruiters demonstrate apprehension in inviting them for an interview leave aside hiring them. I often wonder why? What could be the reason for the employers to disqualify the ‘over-qualified’ candidates. Let me summarize it for you:

The inability to pay fair

Mostly organisations have a budget in mind apart from the job and role description. When they encounter a resume of a candidate with more experience, more accolades, it is deemed unaffordable.

The inability to do jobs below pay grade

There is a preconceived notion or recruiter’s own personal experience about the candidate’s unwillingness to take on jobs that could be ‘beneath their position’. This may affect the morale and impact the productivity of the team.

The inability to take direction

Due to the vast experience, over-qualified candidates bring with them, employers believe that they may not be comfortable or struggle to receive instructions from those younger or with lesser experience. This may cause unnecessary friction within the team.

Use the opportunity as a stop-gap arrangement

Many a times, employers fear that over-qualified candidates use jobs with lesser roles as a stop-gap arrangement. The candidates are likely to move on as soon as a more fitting opportunity comes their way.

Interestingly, I also come across recruiters who look upon overqualified candidates with in-depth domain knowledge and experience, as an asset. From this perspective, an over-qualified candidate can be a plus to any organization.

No training required

One of the biggest positive of hiring an overqualified candidate is that they don’t need any handholding. They are self-sufficient and the hours and costs spent on training and upskilling, can be saved.

Better contributors

Overqualified candidates come with a wealth of wisdom and rich experience. They are more effective and hands on, could foresee and manage challenges well in time, therefore more productive.

Elevate the team

Overqualified candidates come with a legacy of achievements that can be inspirational to the team. Their knowledge and ability to handle situations, smartly can make them good mentors. They can elevate the skillset of the team.

Willingness to step up

These candidates work hard and can evolve into leadership roles, faster. They take on responsibilities that one maybe apprehensive to dole out to an existing employee.

One of the key points to note while interviewing overqualified candidates is that they do have a reason for applying to a lower paying or lower level job.  There are many reasons for a candidate with weighty qualifications choosing to respond to a lesser role like a toxic work environment, a personal loss, a gap in work experience, switching industries, moving cities or the plain old need to have a job.

In my point of view, it would help if we avoid judging and rejecting them. We need to focus on the hiring needs from both present and future perspective.  Let’s avoid judging them on education and years of experience and assess them on attitude and whether they can blend into your work culture. So, from now, how about taking the time to simply, ask them what made them apply? May be by giving them a chance, they might turn out to be the best hiring decision.

Sometimes, looking beyond the star can get you a superstar!



Leave a Reply