Is it wise to hire an overqualified candidate?

For hiring managers and recruiters, there can be some apprehension when interviewing or hiring candidates whose skillsets and experience go beyond the role requirements at hand. Overqualified candidates are often accompanied with preconceived perceptions. But are these justified? Is it wise to hire such candidates, or should you wait for someone who fits the role more accurately?

What is an overqualified candidate?

An applicant can be considered overqualified for the following things – the first of which is their educational attainment. They could already have double degrees or master degrees but are applying for graduate level or junior positions.

An overqualified candidate can also be someone who has extensive years of experience in a certain field. These are people who (it could be argued) based on their tenure, should not be applying for lower level positions than they have held previously. They may be applying for jobs that could be considered a step down.

But why are hiring managers and recruiters apprehensive towards overqualified candidates?

The most likely answer is that on a CV or LinkedIn profile there is an observable imbalance between the role and the person. Similarly, there is often also a pay differential in play that needs to be considered.

The perception is often that overqualified people may get bored with their jobs – they’ve done it all before, they don’t find anything challenging or interesting, they can be robotic about their tasks, and may find little fulfillment in roles that are not suitably matched to their skill and experience level. This could eventually lead to disengagement with work, colleagues and possible short term tenure, which could upset the dynamic and productivity within the team or company.

How can hiring an overqualified candidate be a good thing?

As a recruitment agency in Ho Chi Minh, doing executive search and recruiting candidates across Vietnam every day, we can say that often the perception about overqualified professionals is not accurate. The first thing to do is to change the terminology from ‘overqualified’ to ‘well-qualified’. This removes the negative connotation towards a candidate who has yet to prove themselves to a hiring manager or recruiter. When you change your mindset about highly qualified people, you are giving the candidate opportunity to share the reality of their situation and motivations for applying. Their reasons are likely to surprise you – better work-life balance, reduced stress, changing career goals, or health could play a part in someone’s decision to apply for a role that, to you, doesn’t seem to fit on first glance.

Secondly, focus on the candidate’s strengths. Well-qualified professionals bring rich knowledge and expertise to the table. They have extensive experience, from tertiary education or working at numerous companies, that can help you improve your operations and business. They know what to expect and are more equipped to handle the work requirements and the challenges that may arise anytime.

Thirdly, well-qualified people can bring so much value to your team. You won’t need to micromanage this employee because they have a lot of experience working in the industry, and they may even teach you a thing or two. They have a wider understanding of the job and the industry, often more than your existing employees, and can help mentor team members. One well-qualified employee can add a lot of intangible benefit to your business.

Fourthly, well-qualified people can contribute to the existing leadership in your business. Some may bring with them their experience in hiring and leading people, others may bring a wide range of invaluable industry and competitor insights. These people are also ready to step up to new challenges, the unexpected demands of the work, and quickly make a positive impact to your business.

Recontextualise “overqualified”

We know the world of executive search and recruitment in Vietnam is fast-paced, but that doesn’t mean you can rely on a quick reading of a candidate’s CV to rule them out for a specific job. If you think that a candidate is overqualified, the best thing to do is try to understand their motivations and career goals.

When hiring a well-qualified individual, be open and honest, put your own biases aside, and treat them as you would any other new employee.

Wanting to explore recruitment opportunities in Vietnam? Talk to The Talent Consultants to know how you can partner with our recruitment agency in Ho Chi Minh today. For a confidential discussion, please email sarah@thetalentconsultants.com.