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16 Key Things To Consider Before Hiring An Overqualified Job Candidate

It might seem like a no-brainer to say that the more qualifications a job candidate has, the more well-suited they would be to fill a position. In reality, however, some candidates are overqualified, and this can become an issue if they accept the position.

If you’re considering hiring an overqualified candidate, it’s important to make sure you consider the decision from all angles. Here, 16 members of Forbes Coaches Council share key things they would advise their clients to think about before hiring someone with an overabundance of skills, education, experience and/or credentials.

1. Their Potential To Grow With Your Company
I would encourage you to consider your ideal outcome for anyone in this role, both from a leadership and a technical output standpoint, while also considering your long-term vision for the team’s growth. Regardless of the candidate’s current qualifications, does that vision give the person room to grow with the company? - Ciara Ungar, Ciara Ungar Consulting

2. Why They Want The Role
While it’s enticing to hire a candidate who exceeds job requirements, you want to be clear on why this candidate wants a role they are overqualified for. In most cases, overqualified candidates either expect quick advancement or may seek roles elsewhere. To minimize attrition risk, be certain this person is the best fit based on your available resources and role expectations. - Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

3. Their Motivation
When you’re looking for someone who can help solve your problem, it’s tempting to search for someone who’s done it before, ideally many times. Ask yourself whether they would want to do it again with the same energy and drive as the first or second time they did it. If not, do you want that version of the person in the role? Value motivation at least as strongly as skills and experience. - Gary Crotaz, Gary Crotaz Ltd.

4. What Makes Them ‘Overqualified’
It’s important for the company to be clear on the aspects that make the candidate “overqualified” and how and why this might affect job performance. If companies can communicate that to the candidate, it makes the job seeker an ambassador for the company’s recruiting, even if the candidate is rejected. This helps all recruiting efforts ultimately be seen as company and employee branding exercises. - Rittu Sinha, The Balanced Bandwagon

5. Their Potential Cultural Fit
Irrespective of their “qualifications,” does this candidate fit ideally from a cultural perspective? If they do, then let’s look at the growth of the organization and how this job candidate will fit within the organization in the future. Think proactively down the road, long-term. Hiring in 2022 is particularly tight, so this could be your best hire yet. - Nick Leighton, Exactly Where You Want to Be

6. Their ‘Why’ For Seeking The Position
When considering an “overqualified” job candidate, ask the candidate probing questions to determine their reason for seeking the position. If they are satisfied with fewer responsibilities and perhaps a smaller salary, get to the “why” (lifestyle changes or new interests, for example). They may just be a perfect match for delivering industry/institutional knowledge and becoming a mentor to the next generation. - Diane Hudson, Career Marketing Techniques, LLC

7. The Possible Effect On The Team Dynamic
The first area to consider is the team. How will this candidate’s qualifications affect the team dynamic? Is that a positive or a possible impediment? Barring that, how long will it be before the company can leverage their full qualifications? Without a clear path to the ability to perform and excel, you will find yourself hiring again. - Kathi Laughman, The Mackenzie Circle LLC

8. Potential Mutual Benefits
In order to attract and hire an “overqualified” job candidate, I would first advise having a defined path for potential career growth. Understand the benefits that your company brings to the individual’s interests and the career ladder that it supports so that these can be adequately portrayed to the candidate. - Luke Feldmeier, Online Leadership Training - Career and Leadership Accelerator for Engineers

9. Their Career Path And Prospects
It might be an assumption that they are overqualified. Consider the candidate’s career path, growth opportunities and long-term prospects within the organization. If they land the role, what’s next for them? They may want to see growth and mobility in a short amount of time, given their experience. What other projects or opportunities can you provide that will leverage their skills and promote retention? - Manisha Dhawan, MPath Coaching

10. Their Potential Sustainability
Length of stay is key. Sustainability (or the potential length of employment) should be considered with each hire. Turnover that leads to replacing a team member is costly to the company. For an overqualified candidate, their length of employment may be shorter and therefore they must provide value faster to the company. Overqualified candidates can be great hires when considered correctly. - Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience

11. Their Expected Salary
When you’re considering hiring an overqualified candidate, the top thing to consider is their pay. An overqualified worker is likely to be looking for a higher salary than what your company can offer. If you can’t meet their expectations, they may not be worth hiring. - Peter Boolkah, The Transition Guy

12. Your Possible Biases
The term “overqualified” often has biases attached, intended or not. Candidates change companies and careers for a variety of reasons—so don’t assume you know why. Focus on the facts. Is the candidate qualified or not? Will they bring value to the organization and your team? Are they open to sharing their wealth of experience and knowledge with others to build your bench/team? - Kristy Busija, Next Conversation Coaching, LLC

13. How Quickly They Might Get Bored
My first question would be, “How quickly will the candidate get bored?” Often, people who are overqualified are looking for a stopover—a place to perhaps take a rest, recharge, not have to do too much heavy thinking—and won’t end up staying for a long time; so, you’ll just find yourself having to hire someone new and going through the same process again. Tread carefully! - Kim Neeson, Kim Neeson Consultancy

14. Their Purpose And Ability To Get Their ‘Hands Dirty’
When hiring someone who is overqualified, find out two things. First, what is their purpose in taking the role—is it financial security, location, the company or less stress than the previous job? The second consideration if they have been in management is whether they get their “hands dirty” to get things done or they are so used to delegating that they need others to produce. - Mark Samuel, IMPAQ Corporation

15. How They Could Help You Evolve Faster
Spoiler alert: There is no such thing as an “overqualified “candidate. Contrarily, whenever employers and recruiters are afraid of “highly” qualified candidates, it reflects their limited mindset, imagination and understanding of people and potential. Instead, they should consider how more experience, better skills and a broader vision can help them to evolve faster and more successfully. - Andreas von der Heydt, Andreas Von Der Heydt Coaching & Consulting

16. Their Adaptability
It’s simple. Drop “overqualified” from your vetting process. It’s not only a poor filter, but it also holds little value. The number of degrees and years of experience no longer is a valid predictor of future success. The No. 1 skill for future employability is adaptability, according to McKinsey, Deloitte and others. And I’m not sure in today’s never-normal world you can be overqualified in adaptability. - Ira Wolfe, Success Performance Solutions

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