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Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Overqualified Applicants

Written by Michelle Silverstein

Overqualified applicants can sometimes trigger concerns for employers – that they don’t really want the job; that they’ll leave the job as soon as they find something better; that they won’t be a good fit for the role.

While these concerns could prove to be true for some applicants, they are ultimately just assumptions based on gut reactions. When you dismiss an applicant simply on the basis of overqualification, you destroy an opportunity to think through what this person can offer to your team. Here are a couple of no-brainer reasons why you should give your overqualified applicants a second look:

1.Your candidate pool gets bigger

This should be pretty obvious, but by considering overqualified applicants, you’re automatically expanding your applicant pool. This can be especially useful if you’re short on candidates or need to fill a position quickly.

2. You know they are at least “qualified”

One of the biggest unknowns when hiring someone is whether or not they’ll be able to successfully carry out the duties of the job. For an overqualified applicant, this unknown is taken out of the equation, because they’ve likely done this exact job before. Of course, you’ll still need to vet the candidate for other qualities (like personality fit), but at the very least you know they can execute the basic tasks associated with the role.  

3. You get the chance to find out why they are interested

As we mentioned earlier, dismissing overqualified applicants means you’re relying on assumptions about why the candidate is interested in the position. However, if you took the time to ask them about it in an interview, you could be pleasantly surprised. You might learn that the candidate used to work in a large company but wants to work in a smaller company to be more hands-on. Or you might discover that the candidate is particularly interested in finding a role with a better work-life balance. An overqualified applicant’s motivations don’t always have to be sinister, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

4. They could become your greatest assets

If you are able to move past your initial assumptions and hire overqualified applicants, you may find that they have a lot to offer. With a greater wealth of experience in a variety of roles, these employees can bring new perspectives and ideas to your organization, including leadership potential, mentorship, and expertise in other areas that your company has never leveraged before.

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Of course, not every overqualified candidate will be a good fit for your company. You still need to look out for red flags during the interview process, the same as with any other candidate. For instance:

  • Do they have a bad attitude?
  • Are they dismissive about the job’s responsibilities?
  • Are their salary requirements far beyond the scope of the role?
  • Do they have a less-than-credible explanation for their interest in the position?

These questions can help identify if you have a truly enthusiastic candidate who could provide a lot of value to your team. All you have to do is give them the chance.

Michelle Silverstein

Written by Michelle Silverstein

Michelle Silverstein has over 5 years of experience in content marketing and writing, specializing in B2B and SaaS with a particular focus in the HR space.

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