How to Fix The Mistake You're Making With Overqualified Applicants

"Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds." ~Colin Powell

"Get the best people and train them well." ~Scott McNealy

There will be times when you go through interviews, or are reviewing resumes, and one of the candidates shows a huge upside well beyond what the position entailed. So much so, they may seem out of place. There are some who dismiss these candidates right away, typically out of concern that they will get bored and move on relatively quickly.

But I would encourage you to take a different route and give these individuals a chance and I will show you the two questions you need to ask to see if they are worth your while. If you have done any hiring, you know how difficult it is to find good applicants and good employees, let alone great ones. Overqualified individuals have the obvious upside to be great, they just take a little more care.

One way to look at this is that you are being offered the services of a Ferrari, for work that only required a Honda at basically no additional cost. The only additional cost you would bear would be the time and effort needed to keep that person interested, the maintenance if you will, on your new Ferrari.

There are two things to always keep in mind before you bring them on board though:

  • Why do they want the position – Many times there is a very legitimate personal or professional reason. It’s also important to know whether the work will be at all interesting to them, or whether they will be bored, and therefore, unproductive. How they answer will give you an idea if they will be leaving if something better comes along.
  • How much time/effort are you willing to put in to encourage them – Superstars are just as needy as your poor performers, and often much more so. You need to have the time in your schedule to give them more support, or be willing to expend the department’s resources on them. As with the example above with the cars, there may not be any extra financial cost, but the maintenance costs could kill you.

The other benefit worth noting in bringing on overqualified individuals is that if done right (they are there for the right reasons and you are there to support them) they elevate the tone and performance of the whole department as they become familiar with operations and can be a resource. However, don't be naïve in thinking they may leave soon, or that you will need to give them more TLC than the average employee. But for all of the reasons above, I say take the Ferrari!

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