We all come across situations where things seem too good to be true.
For an HR professional, specifically for a hiring manager, this phenomenon appears in the form of an overqualified candidate. A person who has the most suitable degrees from the best of universities, who has previously worked in a role similar to which you are hiring for and who seems extremely enthusiastic about taking up the position might seem like a dream come true at first!
But such a candidate may not necessarily be the best person for the job.
The advantages and disadvantages of hiring an overqualified candidate need to be considered before making the decision!
With hiring becoming an increasingly expensive affair, the decision of whether or not to hire a candidate need to be given considerable thought, especially if he/she is overqualified. There are also certain assessments that a hiring manager needs to make in order to gauge the current suitability and long-term sustainability of the candidate for a particular position.
Who Is An Overqualified Candidate?
Prior to studying the upsides and the downsides of hiring an overqualified candidate, one first needs to understand the criteria for a candidate to be labelled as overqualified for a role. It is inclusive, but not limited to obvious elements such as the academic qualifications of a candidate or the number of years of work experience.
Candidates with the following attributes will stand out from the rest:
- Candidates with a deeper and wider knowledge of the subject matter than their counterparts.
- Candidates who have a very broad perspective (say due to moving cities frequently).
- Candidates who have worked for the organisation’s client (they will know the best way of approaching deliverables).
- Candidates with highly refined social skills (more than what is required for the role).
- Those who exhibit traits of one who takes a lot of initiative.
Having identified an overqualified candidate, we can now determine how having one on the team could be a blessing… or a curse!
Benefits Of Hiring An Overqualified Candidate!
Here’s how hiring an overqualified candidate can be a good thing for your organisation!
1. Better quality work
The output of such a candidate may be more qualitative than that of his counterparts.
Well-researched, insightful, well-presented and meticulous work is highly appealing. This can also inspire other employees to follow suit.
2. An asset to the organisation
A candidate who possesses the combination of technical and soft skills can elevate the team and the organisation to better performance.
This is more applicable if the role in question involves a long-term commitment. Hiring an overqualified candidate in such a situation is also a good opportunity to hone a potential board member in the future.
3. Monetary gains
The candidate can save on time and other resources if he/she is more efficient than the others. In a client-facing or revenue generating role, a single overqualified candidate has the potential to increase the top line or reduce the expenses, which directly impacts the profitability of the organisation.
Downsides Of Hiring An Overqualified Candidate!
Here’s how hiring an overqualified candidate could land you in a soup!
1. The expectation of a higher compensation
A person who brings more to the table either in monetary terms (such as growth in the top-line or savings on cost due to increased efficiency) or in non-monetary terms (such as bringing fresh ideas or improving interactions with related parties which increases the goodwill of the organisation) is prone to feeling entitled to more recognition, especially by way of a higher compensation.
This might not be within the budget of the organisation. Since salary is an important factor for an employee, this factor might be a deterrent to hiring an overqualified candidate.
2. Dealing with frustration
A candidate who has more than the required skills for a job may become frustrated when he/she doesn’t have the opportunity to apply those skills in the role for which he/she is hired.
The person might feel that they are not living up to their potential, which can dampen the morale and motivation to work and impact the productivity, ultimately defeating the purpose of hiring them in the first place.
3. Friction in the team
When one person in a team has the capacity to perform more than the others, it is likely that he/she might feel superior and act in a way that makes other team members feel uncomfortable.
The superiors can favour an overqualified candidate and partiality can dampen the morale of other employees. It can also lead to jealousy and backstabbing. In one way or another, the lack of a level playing field can cause strained equations between people in the organisation, which can hamper efficiency and effectiveness.
How Do You Decide Whether Or Not To Hire A Seemingly Overqualified Candidate?
As mentioned earlier, there are certain actionables for a Hiring Manager who needs to decide whether or not to hire an overqualified candidate. These are discussed below.
1. Communicate frankly
Lay down the expectations, requirements, scope, deliverables, nature of the role, opportunities and responsibilities clearly.
Be open about any specific attributes of the role and answer questions with total honesty and not merely with a view to enticing the candidate to join your organisation.
Allow a fair amount of time for the candidate to process, analyse and decide whether he/she wants to take up the role or not.
2. Gauge the reason for the candidate’s application
If a candidate is applying for a role for which he/she is overqualified, there might be some ulterior motive behind it.
Doing a background check is a good option to rule out the possibility of expulsion from organisations or incidents of misconduct. Try to find out if there is an expectation of some sort which the candidate is harbouring.
3. Cultural suitability
Regardless of how good a person is at their job, the question of whether or not they fit into the team and organisation is crucial for the hiring decision.
If the candidate’s values are not in alignment with that of the organisation’s, it will lead to conflict and frustration on both sides. Assessing whether or not they blend into the culture is as important as assessing the skills.
While hiring an overqualified candidate may seem like a good decision at first, it comes with its fair share of disadvantages. This practice is certainly not for everyone or every team.
Make sure you consider these points before choosing to hire an overqualified candidate!