Should You Hire an Overqualified Professional?

Should You Hire an Overqualified Professional?

Finding the right candidate is tricky enough, but what happens when they have too much experience?

Hiring an overqualified professional is a completely different matter altogether.

The definition of being overqualified is best used to describe a candidate who is skilled or educated beyond the requirements for the position.

For instance, the candidate may only need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field for an entry-level job, however, the overqualified candidate has three years relevant experience.

So, what does this mean for your business? Is hiring someone more than capable of doing the job a risk?

In this blog, I assess the pros and cons of hiring an overqualified professional.

Common objections against hiring an overqualified professional

If a candidate has too much relevant experience in a particular field or industry, it can make you feel like something doesn’t add up.

After all, why wouldn’t they have been snapped up by now?

Another common fear is that all of the extra experience will come with a price tag.

In other words, the overqualified professional will demand a higher wage.

However, if you’ve clearly stated what the salary is, surely they’re already aware of what they are applying for?

There’s also an argument to say that the candidate is only using your company as a stepping stone until a bigger and better opportunity presents itself.

This is a real issue in the UK job market today, as professionals often take or stay in a role just so that they aren’t unemployed.

The final objections against hiring an overqualified professional are that they won’t be challenged enough in the role, which will lead to them being unproductive and unhappy.

The problem is, having someone in the ranks with a poor attitude can often have a knock-on effect within the business.

Reasons to start thinking differently

Being overqualified doesn’t necessarily lead to lower job satisfaction or a higher turnover.

It’s a matter of personal preference.

For example, some professionals like the feeling of over-performing as it empowers them and makes them feel important.

Not everyone wants a great deal of responsibility or pressure on their shoulders.

Perhaps they’re getting to a stage in their career where they want stability and a manageable job.

Working late and taking on more responsibilities doesn’t always appeal to everyone. This kind of attitude is very common when you hire an older professional.

How to change your mindset

Try to change your way of thinking and consider that the professional might just like the sound of your role.

Are you offering fantastic work benefits? Does the role look fun and challenging all at once? Are they relocating and your company looks like a perfect fit for them?

There are many different motivations and reasons why overqualified professionals may have applied to your company.

Be prepared to listen and ask the following questions in an interview:

  • Can you tell me about your favourite job from the past and what it entailed?
  • What elements did you dislike doing in any of your former jobs?

These types of interview questions should help you understand what makes the overqualified professional tick and determine whether they’re a good cultural fit for your business.

If you like the sound of their answers, have faith in your business and what it stands for.

Believe it or not, if you’ve been following our 5 Ways to Build a Winning Company Culture, professionals will want to be a part of it – regardless of their experience.

Other things to consider

There are other hidden benefits as to whether you should hire an overqualified professional.

For example, having such an experienced head within the ranks can improve the morale of the team, providing some relief for other workers.

This is particularly important if your business is always juggling multiple deadlines.

Generally speaking, a lot of businesses tend to flourish when there is a mixture of professionals, instead of hiring clones.

Someone with more life experience can offer a different viewpoint on matters and broaden the minds of younger professionals.

If you’re worried that the overqualified professional is just looking to use your company as a stepping stone in their career, isn’t there an argument to suggest that an inexperienced one would be too?

The best course of action before hiring an overqualified professional is to be honest and upfront about the role.

Reiterate what the job entails, the salary, the benefits and the promotion prospects. Then double-check whether they’re 100% happy with all of these terms.

This will help you remove any timewasters and cut straight to the ones who are interested.

Conducting a phone screening is another useful tip as you can go through all of the terms and remove any with unrealistic expectations before wasting further time in a face-to-face interview.


Remember, every professional is different. So, if they’re serious about going for your job, despite being overqualified, just go for it.

As long as your manager is happy managing an experienced professional and they’re a good cultural fit, there’s no reason why they can’t help your business thrive.

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