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Overqualified job applicants bring added value


Overqualified job applicants bring added valueEmployers have traditionally avoided interviewing overqualified job applicants, either because they feel they can’t meet their salary expectations or they’re afraid these individuals will leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along.  While these outcomes can certainly happen, it’s also possible that by hiring someone who brings a depth of experience to his or her role, you’ll enhance the productivity of the entire team.

There are many overqualified job applicants in the labour market today, and making early assumptions about their employment needs could cause you to miss out on a valuable prospect. Here are a few benefits of hiring “up:”

Overqualified job applicants can address immediate needs. The “one person, one job” workplace mentality is giving way to a broader look at the real goal of staffing: to achieve maximum productivity. Look at all positions and responsibilities required in your department. Instead of hiring a junior staff person and training that individual, could tasks be shifted and regrouped to capitalize on the talents of a more-experienced individual? Consider the advantages of augmenting your team with someone who can offer a specialized skill that doesn’t exist internally in your department.

Overqualified job applicants may be flexible. Many candidates are willing to take a less-senior role if there’s a chance it could lead to increased responsibility.  Others may be seeking to downshift into a position with less stress or pursue opportunities to expand their skills in new areas. Find out why the applicant is seeking a role with reduced responsibility. It could be an interim measure in response to a tight job market or you may find that the applicant enjoyed some aspect of his or her background and is looking to return to that type of work.

Overqualified job applicants can help grow the business. Incorporating the skills of an experienced professional into your talent mix can provide a unique competitive advantage. His or her considerable insight can help you capitalize on current business opportunities and position your firm for long-term growth. Then, when the economy picks up, you may already have the perfect candidate on board to assume a new leadership role.

Overqualified job applicants can mentor others. Consider pairing these individuals with less-experienced employees. They can impart valuable knowledge not only of the industry or business but also on navigating sensitive situations. For example, is there someone you’re grooming for a higher-level role? Consider having the prospect and the newcomer serve as co-leaders of a work team.

An open-minded evaluation of your needs can reveal many opportunities where experienced individuals can add value, and an honest discussion beforehand can result in a mutually beneficial situation. While you may stretch your payroll budget initially, you could be making a long-term investment that pays significant dividends now and in the future.

Robert Half International Inc. was founded in 1948 and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its financial staffing divisions include Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Accountemps and Robert Half Management Resources, for full-time, temporary and senior-level project professionals, respectively. The company has more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and offers online job search services on its divisional websites, all of which can be accessed at

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