Should You Consider Overqualified Candidates?

The economy is picking up, but there are still a lot of struggling job seekers out there—and many are applying to positions for which they’re more than qualified. As an employer, there may be many reasons you don’t want to hire overqualified candidates: they may not be motivated to work a “step-down” job, they may get bored (and therefore dissatisfied and unproductive) quickly, and there’s a good chance they only want a temporary employment solution—when you’re looking for long-term employees.

But sometimes, hiring overqualified candidates can be a good move for your company. Here are the factors you should consider when dealing with job candidates who might be too good for their jobs.

How long do you need them?

In some cases, hiring someone with a lot of experience can benefit your company even if they don’t stay very long. Companies with high staff turnover rates, such as retail stores or restaurants, as well as sales-based organizations, can derive quite a bit of value from an employee who stays for six months—especially if hiring costs are kept on the low side.

Even for more professional positions such as IT or highly industry-specific careers, hiring an expert with a lot of experience can allow you to leverage an overqualified candidate while they’re working for you, and leave your company in a better position once they’ve resigned.

Is the candidate passionate about your company?

If a candidate is overqualified, but really excited about working for you, they could be a great fit. They should be passionate about the challenges offered by the position they’re applying for, and demonstrate some knowledge of your company in particular that shows they’ve researched the possibility of working for you.

If a highly qualified candidate doesn’t seem very excited during the interview, there’s a good chance they’re just looking for a paycheck and benefits to fill in the gap until they find a better job.

Would you hire the candidate without their experience?

When considering overly qualified candidates, cultural fit should be an important factor in your hiring decision. Think about the candidate separately from the qualifications—is this the kind of person you’d want on your team? Do they hold similar values to the company? Is the candidate a team player who’d get along well with your current staff? It can work out well to hire an overqualified candidate who’s a good cultural fit.

What are the candidate’s goals?

Whatever version of the standard “where do you see yourself in five years” interview question you use, pay attention to the overqualified candidate’s response. Spend some time discussing their future goals, and think about whether your company can offer a solid path that will help them achieve those goals. If there is nowhere for the candidate to go, then your company may end up as a stepping stone on their path.

Can you arrange a trial situation?

If you’re on the fence about hiring an overqualified candidate, consider making arrangements for temporary employment. The opportunity to “try before you buy” can be valuable in learning whether the candidate will be happy and productive in the role, or frustrated and restless. If your company’s structure doesn’t work well with temporary employment, you might bring the candidate on as a consultant or for a project before deciding whether to hire them permanently.

There are many reasons an overqualified candidate might not work out, but excluding the possibility of hiring someone who’s more than qualified could rob your company of a valuable opportunity. If the candidate is excited about working for you, has goals that align with your organization’s, and demonstrates a strong cultural fit, they might be your next star employee. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at


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