Is Hiring an Overqualified Professional a Good Idea?

Finding the best candidate is a challenge in itself, but what happens if they’re overqualified for the role?

Is too much experience a bad thing?

It’s a largely untouched topic in the world of recruitment, often dividing opinion.

An overqualified professional is someone who is skilled or educated beyond the requirements of a particular position, so they shouldn’t have any issues doing a great job.

But will they bring too much to the table and undermine other senior members of staff?

Or can they add value and make the role their own?

Let’s explore by looking at the pros and cons of hiring an overqualified professional.

Why hiring an overqualified professional is bad

There are a lot of opinions surrounding overqualified professionals.

Will they cause an imbalance in the work dynamic?

And why haven’t they been snapped up already?

One common perception of hiring overqualified professionals is that their experience will come at a price for the employer.

There’s also an argument to say that the candidate is only using the company as a stepping stone until something more appropriate crops up.

This is a real issue with Millennials today, with around 43% planning to leave their current jobs within two years and only 28% planning to stay beyond 5 years.

And when you consider the average cost per hire coming in at around £3,000, that’s a pretty big investment for such a small time of service.

Another reason why hiring someone with too much experience is a bad idea is the simplicity of a role.

In other words, will a basic entry-level role challenge someone senior?

If this becomes a problem, it can cause a drastic drop in productivity and rub-off on the wider team.

Is this something you’re willing to risk?

The upside of hiring an overqualified professional

Despite the concerns surrounding professionals with too much experience, there are a lot of positives to weigh up too.

For instance, some professionals thrive in working for businesses where they can over-perform and be truly valued.

The issue with working at a big company is that the employee experience and commitment to personal development often dip, as there are too many people to consider.

It’s important to remember that not everyone wants to work in a stuffy corporate environment or under constant scrutiny.

Senior positions often require long working hours and added stress too, which can lead to presenteeism.   

Perhaps they’re getting to an age where the quality of life takes precedence over money and development.

It’s a case of understanding a candidate’s motives and what they want to achieve moving forward.   

An overqualified professional could take interest in your role because they like the location, benefits or working hours.

Or perhaps they think your working environment is buzzing and they want a piece of the action.

The best way to understand an overqualified professional’s desire to join your company is to invite them to an interview and ask them questions like:

– Tell me about your favourite past job – what did that entail?

– Are there any areas or aspects you didn’t enjoy in your previous jobs? 

– What attracted you to this role?

These questions will give you a clear idea of who they are, what motivates/demotivates them and whether they’re a good cultural fit for your business.

Another positive of hiring an overqualified professional is the fact that having an experienced mind working with different generations can diversify your business.

More often than not, they’ll know how to deal with everyday challenges, as they’ve already experienced it themselves.

Working in several roles will make it easy for them to mingle and know how to communicate with different characters.

There’s nothing wrong with adding more wisdom and a different personality into the mix, especially when they can share this with up and coming talent.  

An overqualified professional can draw upon their added experience to offer a different viewpoint and approach to the way your business operates.

Granted, there’s no real way of truly knowing whether an overqualified professional will use your business as a stepping stone.

However, there’s probably a greater risk with young inexperienced candidates who are eager to progress. 

You must be prepared to be honest and willing to ask the necessary questions to identify the experienced candidate’s motives.

Providing they’re happy with the salary and the terms of employment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t invest in an overqualified candidate.

After all, you’ll receive more experience for less money!

If you’re worried about time-wasters or are looking to hire quickly, conduct a phone call as a way of screening them before the interview stage.

This way, you can reiterate the salary and any other details before commencing with the next stages.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, hiring someone with too much experience isn’t necessarily a bad thing if their motivates are right.

You must keep an open mind and remember that some people regard other things in life as more important than work.

As long as the candidate is a good cultural fit and is willing to work hard, both your business and its employees can gain a lot from bringing in added experience at no extra cost.  

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