Human resources professionals are always wary of making a bad hire – of choosing a candidate who is ultimately unsuitable and unqualified for the role in question. And this concern is not unfounded. Recruiters across the nation have no doubt heard the statistic that the cost of a bad hire can amount to tens of thousands of dollars for an organization – a major hit to any company's bottom line, big or small. To put this into greater perspective, Forbes cited a widely circulated U.S. Department of Labor statistic which suggested the cost of a bad hire averages out to around 30 percent of the employee's annual salary. Consequently recruiters today take great care to ensure they hire the best individual for the role – both in terms of qualifications, experience and cultural fit.
Another hiring problem that gets less attention, however, is the predicament human resources professionals face over whether to hire a candidate who is overqualified for the job. As an article from Forbes explained, this has become more commonplace in recent years, largely in the part to the economic downturn of 2008 which saw unemployment levels rise. Surely having an employee with more than the necessary skills is a good thing, right? Not always. In fact, a number of recruiters tend to become hesitant when faced with a candidate with too much experience, for a number of reasons.
So what is the answer? Should employers take a chance on overqualified candidates? In essence, there is no right or wrong approach. There are clear benefits and drawbacks that a human resources department should consider before making a decision.
Arguments in favor of overqualified candidates
Here is a guide to some of the most compelling reasons in favor of choosing an overqualified candidate:
1. Easier to manage
A candidate with an extensive amount of experience will likely be more ready to hit the ground running, and will probably will require less management and training than the typical new hire, writer Heather R. Huhman explained, contributing to Entrepreneur. It makes sense – the most qualified professionals tend to be a little older and will likely feel more comfortable and have the know-how to adjust to a new professional setting faster, increasing productivity in the process.
2. More talent
Bringing on an overqualified employee is also fantastic for a very simple reason – he or she can bring a wealth of experience and pour it into the new company and position, elevating standards and helping to improve overall processes, an article from HR Daily Advisor explained. An overqualified candidate can also transform the role in question, altering how things are done and what is expected for the better.
3. Higher ROI
Hiring an overqualified candidate is a fantastic return on investment for any organization, again, for the simple reason that the candidate in question can potentially bring much more to the role than otherwise expected, HR Daily Advisor stressed.
4. The qualifications to climb
Bringing on an overqualified employee is good news for organizations where progressing up the career ladder is encouraged. As Huhman argued, overqualified professionals will likely be more willing and adept to take the initiative to become team leaders, and will likely get promoted faster as a result. This kind of internal promoting can serve an organization well.
5. Less risk of discrimination
It's common for overqualified candidates to be older. It makes sense – it takes time to build up a career and garner experience. Consequently, when recruiters routinely reject candidates who may be overqualified, they run the risk of being accused of age-based discrimination, HR Daily Advisor stressed. It is important, therefore, for hiring departments to be open to the idea of more experienced candidates, to ensure fairness and to stay on the right side of the law.
Argument against overqualified candidates
As detailed, it is common for hiring departments to be wary of hiring overqualified candidates. Here are some of the most compelling reasons why:
1. Unrealistic expectations about the role
As writer Alison Green explained, contributing to U.S. News & World Report, a major concern that recruiters have when faced with an overqualified candidate is whether they truly understand the nature of the role and its expectations. Many fear that these professionals will have high or lofty expectations for a position that is likely quite basic in relation to their skill sets and accomplishments, leading to them becoming bored and frustrated when they realize the true nature of the job.
2. High turnover
Perhaps the primary reservation that human resources professionals have when it comes to hiring those with too much is experience is the likelihood that the candidate will leave after a short period of time, HR Daily Advisor detailed. This is not uncommon – highly qualified candidates will often assume position lower down the ladder for income purposes, while they wait for more suitable opportunities to come along. The cost of a high turnover rate can be notable for many organizations, so it is not unsurprising for this risk to be a major concern.
3. Too expensive
Another major concern is the cost of hiring professionals with more skills and accomplishments. As Green detailed, many recruiters won't even consider overqualified candidates for an interview, because it's likely that they will expect a higher salary for the role than it offers. While this may be true in many cases, it is important for human resources departments to keep in mind that some overqualified candidates may be willing to take a pay cut if they are excited about the role on offer.
4. Lacking new skills
As pointed out by HR Daily Advisor, despite having extensive experience and the right qualifications, there is always the risk that seasoned professionals may need some schooling for new skills, particularly in the realm of technology.
As evidenced above, there are positives and drawbacks to hiring an overqualified candidate. While there is no easy answer, thorough candidate screening, as well as background checks, can help make the decision easier. For more information, contact Global HR Research today.