Are overqualified candidates a good hire?
When sourcing a new candidate, finding someone with a corresponding skills match and a wealth of experience is at the forefront of every recruiter’s concentration.
Yet, while decent working knowledge and experience remains a highly desirable trait, some employers are quickly put off by overqualified candidates applying to less senior roles.
Is it a ludicrous suggestion to shun people for having too much experience? Or do employers have a point in not recruiting candidates who are overqualified for a role?
Amanda Augustine, A Career Advice Expert for TopCV told Recruitment Grapevine that there are often numerous reasons that recruiters and employers shy away from employing candidates with too much experience.
Many employers are quick to assume that candidates with experience surpassing the expectations of the job description will require a far higher salary than the budget set aside for the role.
Additionally, if the candidate has previously worked in more senior roles, employers fear that the candidate will get bored quickly of holding less responsibility and want to move on. Augustine added:
“Hiring is an expensive activity; no recruiter wants to select the wrong candidate and repeat the process.”
And, Toby Levy, Head of Business Development and Partnerships at graduate recruitment firm, BrighterBox, agreed. He told Recruitment Grapevine that, although shunning a candidate for their wealth of experience may sound like a weak excuse, “there is a logic behind it for the employer”.
He explained: "A candidate who is (too) experienced will likely be looking for progression or more responsibility that ultimately won't be there. The employer is therefore, quite rightly, limiting their risk and ultimately ensuring the successful hire is right for the long term."
Yet, some recruiting professionals feel that overqualified candidates can be advantageous to companies.
Charlotte Dunworth, HR Director at E-cigarette Direct exclusively told Recruitment Grapevine that at the company, they have experienced both ends of the positivity spectrum when it comes to hiring overqualified candidates.
She explained: “Where we have had successes, it's been when the person has come to us because of a passion for what we do (and how we do it), rather than because they are simply looking for a job. Where we’ve had failures, it’s usually because of a lack of commitment and enthusiasm.
“That’s cemented our belief that when recruiting for the right people, overqualified or not, what is key is whether the person is the right match for the company - and in particular, whether their values matches the values of the company,” Dunworth continued.
While some overqualified candidates may not be a suitable match for the company’s overarching culture, it is important to value the candidates for the time that they spend applying for the job.
However, not all recruiting professionals hold the same stance on recruiting overqualified candidates. Brian Fairbrother, Director of Solutions at Talent Cloud Media, said exclusively to Recruitment Grapevine that experienced candidates should be “treated like gold”.
“If the candidate wants the job, and the only concern from an employer is that this candidate has too much experience… there is something very concerning about this perception in the first place.”
Fairbrother added that employers should respect candidates regardless of their age. He acknowledges that “we are all getting old at the same time” and that all candidates should be given an equal opportunity to secure a job.
In practice, Fairbrother believes that the candidate should be assessed based on their suitability and aptness to the company and not the vacancy itself.
He added that companies adhering to the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) agenda - and who appreciate true diversity - would not regret a candidate for having too much experience.