Insights

Talent Management Conundrum: Should You Hire an Overqualified Candidate?

Posted by Reed Flesher

In a perfect world, hiring managers could choose from a pool of perfect candidates to fill their open positions. These candidates would match exactly the job descriptions for which those positions exist.

However, in the real world, many candidates are either underqualified or overqualified. Hiring managers need to weigh the pros and cons of hiring overqualified candidates as well as the potential impact on the organization.

Positives of Hiring an Overqualified Candidate

One positive aspect of hiring an overqualified candidate is the absolute assurance they can do the job without much handholding. Organizations can save money on training by hiring someone overqualified, or they can use those resources where they are more needed.

Overqualified candidates may not be a fit for a particular position the organization desperately needs now but may give you a ready-made leader to promote from within as the need arises for upper-level talent. On the other hand, hiring overqualified candidates gives you a chance to evaluate their suitability before putting them in a more crucial position. If the fit is not going to be there, you will know it before you get in too deep.

When overqualified candidates have identifiable reasons for taking a position (besides desperation), they can often be invaluable assets to an organization. For instance, some want to leave a legacy and will take a lower position when it meets this goal for them. Others have grown tired of being in the middle of a large pack and will join a smaller organization that values them, even if they have to start at the bottom in order to make a bigger contribution.

Negatives of Hiring an Overqualified Candidate

The most obvious negative to hiring someone overqualified is that he or she will leave the position as soon as something more attractive comes along. Many people cannot afford to be unemployed for a long period of time and will take a lesser job to have some income while they continue to search for a more appropriate position.

Furthermore, overqualified employees often become bored with a lesser position, and consequently, they often underperform. Organizations can counter these problems by having overqualified employees approach the position differently or offering them unique training or mentorship opportunities that will keep the position fresh and challenging.

Another potential negative to hiring someone overqualified is that current talent may see the hire as creating inequities or lessening their own opportunities for advancement, and may decide to leave the organization for what they think will be a better opportunity.

It is important to consider all aspects of the decision to hire an overqualified candidate and come to the best possible decision for the organization. Thrive TRM offers unparalleled tracking and reporting of every hiring process to make the decision process clearer and easier to evaluate from beginning to end. Discover solutions to help with recruiting and hiring for all your open positions.

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