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Should You Hire an Overqualified Candidate?

A new study suggests that employers should ignore previous conceptions that hiring an overqualified job candidate is a bad idea. Conventional wisdom used to be that an employee who is overqualified for their position will lack motivation and leave. The tables have turned, however, in the current economy. The workplace is flooded with talented individuals …

A new study suggests that employers should ignore previous conceptions that hiring an overqualified job candidate is a bad idea. Conventional wisdom used to be that an employee who is overqualified for their position will lack motivation and leave. The tables have turned, however, in the current economy. The workplace is flooded with talented individuals who are willing to take jobs below their skill level. And, it seems, the benefit of hiring these people outweighs its risk.

In The Harvard Business Review, Amy Gallo notes that leaders should distinguish between an overqualified candidate and an over-experienced candidate. For instance, being highly educated does not automatically make a candidate overqualified, nor does having lots of unrelated experience. Take into consideration that the candidate may be looking to make a career change or to take a job that gives them more free time.

The strengths that these employees bring to the table, that are only acquired through experience, may help increase productivity and benefit current employees.

CEOs should, however, make conscious decisions about how to bring an overqualified candidate into the picture. It is important to hire the candidate with clear guidelines and expectations about the present, while looking to the future for positions in which they may be helpful.

Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, a senior advisor at Egon Zehnder International and author of Great People Decisions, says, “You need a clear and explicit plan for the future, whether you are thinking of a promotion, a lateral move, or a new project altogether. You need to think and discuss beyond the initial stage where he or she may be temporarily underutilized.”

For more on the benefits and risks of hiring overqualified candidates, as provided by The Harvard Business Review, please click here.

About ceo briefing - mar. 10 2011