We all experience it during the job hiring process. You’re looking for someone with 3-5 years’ experience and you get applicants with 10, 15, even 20+ years in the field. Or the position requires a bachelor’s degree and they have a doctorate…from an Ivy League school!

So, here’s the question: When you get an overqualified job candidate, how do you react? Are you enthusiastic about hiring a new source of talent like that? Or are you nervous they’ll demand too much money or become easily bored with a job that’s “beneath them”?

The pros and cons of an overqualified hire

It’s understandable to have both reactions. Hiring an overqualified candidate could have a positive effect or a negative impact on your company’s productivity and morale. A lot of that depends on the hire…but a lot of it depends on you. (We’ll get to that.)

The upsides include:

  • Improved productivity and performance
  • Reduced training time and costs
  • Innovation and knowledge they can share
  • Maturity
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Interpersonal skills

And the downsides could include:

  • Higher salary demands
  • Resistance to training
  • Outdated skills
  • Lack of motivation given the lesser role
  • Flight risk for a “better opportunity”
  • A threat to other employees’ advancement

Shift the focus of your interview

If you find that the rewards of an overqualified hire outweigh the risks, it’s time for an interview. But instead of focusing heavily on their skills and experience—which they clearly already have—lean into their goals and motivations.

That is, why exactly is this overly accomplished candidate applying for your job in the first place? Are they just looking to plug a pay gap? Are they focused on particular benefits, like health care coverage? Have they switched industries or locations? Are they looking for a less stressful position to achieve a better work-life balance?

Their answers will greatly help you determine if their objectives align with yours and if they’re a good fit for your company.

You make an offer. They accept. Now what?

When you hire an overqualified employee, you’ll need to modify your management style. It may make sense to give them some extra room and allow them leeway for developing new processes.

While both you and they may realize you are underpaying them, you might be able to make up for salary shortfalls by providing perks such as extra flexibility or opportunities for growth. And once you have a better sense of their abilities, you may be able to tweak their role to dovetail with their skills.

If you cannot offer a direct promotion, you may at least tailor their responsibilities to maximize their capabilities.

At Accu Data, we understand that Human Capital Management begins with … well … humans, each one driven by different career and lifestyle needs. That’s why we provide personal one-to-one HCM services and take the time to know each client on a first name basis.

Contact us today for a free consultation!