Should You Hire Someone Overqualified?

In today’s recruiting environment, employers that are hiring are encountering the same familiar hiring conundrums. An issue some employers struggle with is what to do when a clearly overqualified candidate applies for a job opening they’re looking to fill.

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Should you not interview the person because of the risk he or she will leave when something better comes along, or should you hire the person and hope he or she will be a genuine asset and quickly grow into new roles at your company?

To answer this question—or at least add more food for thought—let’s look at some pros and cons to bringing this person on board.


Here are some benefits to hiring someone overqualified:

  • The person may require less training and thus reach full productivity levels quicker than someone else would, meaning training costs may be reduced.
  • This person may be positioned to advance quickly in the organization, which can be a win-win, helping with succession planning and employee development programs.
  • This individual’s experience may bring a different perspective to the role.


Here are some potential drawbacks to this situation:

  • An overqualified individual may be a turnover risk if your organization cannot give him or her the challenges and the role he or she is best-suited for quickly enough.
  • Even if the person doesn’t leave, there is a risk he or she will be unhappy in the role; a dissatisfied employee may quickly become less engaged and even a burden on morale over time.
  • Existing employees may fear their jobs may be at risk if a better-qualified individual joins the team. This should be mitigated through good communication.
  • Although this person may require less training, it’s possible his or her previous role did not provide enough training to keep up with current trends. This may not end up being a benefit, as the individual may need to unlearn previous methods.
  • Your payroll budget may need to be adjusted to accommodate a more experienced individual’s expectations.

What is your general recruiting policy when encountering overqualified applicants? Does your organization typically interview these individuals and try to bring them on board, or are you more wary of the risks?

It’s ideal to assess these situations on a case-by-case basis. After all, whether some or all of these risks are a factor comes down to the individual in question. Consider interviewing an overqualified applicant and asking about his or her goals and desires, and see what the answers tell you—and whether the organization can help the person achieve those goals.

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