Think Twice Before Hiring An Overqualified Candidate

By Eric McLean


Picture this, you’ve just interviewed a great candidate, they check all the boxes and you are almost left wondering if they are actually too qualified for the position. Well they might actually be, and your first inclination may be to offer them the job, but you may want to rethink that. 

Coming across overqualified candidates in the workforce happens frequently, and in every industry.  Many candidates may know they are overqualified for the job and will apply anyways. They may just be unemployed and really want a job, any job for the time being. According to a recent Monster poll, most working Canadians feel qualified – or overqualified – for their jobs. Specifically, two-thirds (67 per cent) feel appropriately qualified, while one-quarter (26 per cent) report feeling overqualified.

Before you make that hire, make sure you follow these steps if you are considering offering a job to a candidate who may seem overqualified:


Honesty is the best policy

Be straightforward with the candidate about what you're wondering. As discussed in a previous Monster post about hiring right the first time, let the candidate know if the position is designed to be entry-level, so he/she knows what the level of responsibility is for the role.

Some of the questions you could ask are as follows:

  • Why are you interested in making this kind of move?
  • Are you comfortable with the pay range?
  • Do you think you can learn from this opportunity and transform it into a broader role?

Does their response make sense to you, or does it sound like they’re trying to convince themselves that the job is right for them?


Think ahead

When considering an overqualified candidate for a job opening, ask yourself as well if there is room to expand the position in the near future and make use of the skills they bring.  Traditional hiring used to follow an orderly process:  a vacant role, the hunt for the right candidate, the interview process and the offer. However, today, it is definitely more advisable to consider the talent opportunities at hand at your organization and try to find the jobs that could be created or made available in the near future.


Onus on the onboard

Effective onboarding is essential, especially for the overqualified. Unmet expectations are one of the more common reasons for turnover, so you should be clear with the new hire, and the rest of the organization about what the job entails, as well as what it could become. You need a clear and explicit plan for the future. It’s important to think and discuss beyond the initial stage where he or she may be temporarily underutilized.


Ask yourself, without the extra experience, is this person still a good hire?

Hiring someone just because they have an incredible amount of experience can be a mistake, especially if you overlook some of the most basic elements you seek in all employees. Ask yourself: Even without the qualifications, is this person still a smart hire? Does their personality and work ethic align with the team and the company culture? If you answered no to any of these questions, then do not take the risk of wrongfully hiring a candidate that in the short term may cost you time and resources.


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