Should You Hire an Overqualified Candidate?

dreamstime_s_21410231Given the current economy this may be an important topic in your business. I saw an interesting story written by Amy Gallo in the Harvard Business Review that indicated conventional wisdom of not hiring “over qualified” candidates may not hold true in all cases. The assumption of course is that an over qualified candidate will be underutilized, become bored and leave.

Point #1: What is over qualified anyway, the person’s skills exceed the requirements? Education is not experience and may not include the required skills. Previous experience may not be a good indicator since the required skills for the new job might be different. Meeting the candidate personally and addressing the reason the candidate is interviewing for a job that one might think he/she is “over qualified” for. In the early 80’s, I left a senior sales management job at a big national company to join a very small software company, I was viewed as very over qualified. Why, I wanted to get into the software industry when it was still young. It turned out to be a win/win for both parties. Look past the resume.

Point #2: Hire for more than the current job. Many businesses are growing and the hiring manager should be looking for someone that can move up in the organization, beyond just the current requirement. There can be no guarantees and the manager should communicate this to the candidate. Growing businesses always need people to promote, hire them now, before you need them and see what happens. Your biggest problem is that managers won’t hire people they view as being better or more skilled than they are.

Point #3: Don’t under pay. It doesn’t do any good to under pay a new employee just because of a down economy. What will your expectations be when the economy turns? People know what a fair salary is and your goal is to keep employees and pay them for performance. If your salary range is quite a ways from the normal pay for the level candidate you’d like to hire address the issue heads-on with the candidate. Again, there may be common ground that will allow you to bring on this “over qualified’ person.

The bottom line is that hiring and training new employees is very expensive. As they say in sports, “pick the best athlete” in the draft, then worry how to fit them in.