15 Career Reasons, Why People Should not be Rejected for Being “Overqualified”

Many hiring managers and recruiters make a very critical mistake while recruiting and interviewing high quality candidates for jobs. They decide to use the word “overqualified” and then reject so many great candidates.

This makes no sense for many reasons.

1) It treats candidates differently from how you’d treat your employees. If someone goes above and beyond the call of duty on the job working for you, you’d think they deserve to keep their jobs, but in addition, they deserve a raise and other rewards. But what about when you’re interviewing them?

Don’t the “above and beyond the call of duty” types you are interviewing also deserve to be hired and given the chance? Failing to hire them because of the “O” word says that you’ll not give any incentive to go above and beyond the call of duty because you won’t reward them if they do. So you will just get mediocre employees. People respond to incentives. You reap what you sow.

2) You are looking for the best and brightest to fill the position. So someone with a lot of qualifications applies for the job you posted. Clearly they’re the best and brightest. But you won’t hire them. So you really don’t want the best and brightest after all. Remember, Albert Einstein worked as a patent clerk for many years, and his boss was happy with his work.

3) You’re thinking they’ll leave for something better. If there is a “flight risk” that means that another company has a job for them that they could take. If they’re applying to your company for a job, that means that other job does not exist, otherwise, they would be applying there and not dealing with you. Of course, if your company is offering a dead-end job, you are very likely to have high turnover.

The problem is the dead-end job – and also, the dead-end culture of the company. The problem is not the applicant, so don’t punish them for the company’s failure. Remember, people who go “above and beyond the call of duty” (i.e. those who you use the “O” word to describe) should not be told “you deserve to starve.” Period. These are the people you want on your team, so your team can go “above and beyond the call of career duty.”

4) It is a waste of time. Why are you wasting time interviewing people just to reject them because they bring more to the table? The problems you want solved are not going to be solved by wasting more time. They will be solved if you hire those you are using the “O” word to describe.

5) If you had the chance to buy a Porsche for the price of a Chevy, wouldn’t you go for it? This is what you’re doing when you hire the highly qualified. You get a bargain and more than you would normally get. Or would you tell the Porsche seller the “O” word and walk away from the deal? Of course not.

6) If you don’t hire them, your competition will hire them, to your detriment. The last thing you want to do is compete against someone you had the chance to hire but rejected because of the “O” word. You can have their rockets moving your company forward, or you can have them moving your career competition forward ahead of you.

7) If you’re worried about the salary issue, ask the candidate. Tell them the range for the position. If it is OK with them, then salary is not an issue, so don’t say the “O” word. If they’re applying for a position that is junior to what they’re used to, there’s a good reason for this – it is because of a lack of jobs out there. For highly qualified types, it is better to have a lower salary than no salary. This is logical and rational. However, when those doing the hiring use the “O” word, they go the opposite: illogical and irrational.

8) Are you looking for someone who can schmooze you or someone who you can depend on to get the job done right? Does selling the sizzle matter more than actually delivering the great tasting steak? When you use the “O” word, you’re saying selling the sizzle is far more important than the great tasting steak.

9) The term “overqualified” is a lie. If they are truly “Overqualified” this means they are bringing more than you want. They have more than enough career qualifications to do the job. So when you don’t hire them, you are treating them as if they do not have enough qualifications for the job, which is the opposite. So why lie when you use the “O” word?

10) It is a big waste. If someone can bring $50,000 of value in one role but flipping hamburgers at minimum wage, or at home on unemployment, because they’re being rejected due to the “O” word, that’s a lot of value being wasted. There is no business justification or career reasons for such waste.

11) I’ll quote a great comment from another great poster: If you have a heart problem and require heart surgery, you’ll go and interview heart surgeons, right? So if the first surgeon did 100 heart operations, the second did 500 heart operations and the third did 1,000 heart operations, will you tell the third doctor they’re “overqualified”? Of course not. You want the best and brightest.

12) Imagine you are taking a class. In your mid-term exam, you get a 100% score in addition to getting points for extra credit, so you’re at 105%. Your professor says “You’re overqualified, and will be failing this class.” Does this sound right to you? Of course not. So why do you say the same to your job applicants?

13) The O-word causes a lose-lose situation. The company loses by not getting a great employee. And the candidate loses by not getting the job. Both do not benefit from this.

14) The highly qualified employee may want to take a lower level position because, to them, it is a more desirable position for whatever reason that is unique to them. Perhaps they were in a high stress position that they did not enjoy but a lower level will light their fire. For example, a development lead or manager who hated management stress, but loved coding, so is now looking for a developer job. Yes, it is a step down, but this is what he wants to do.

15) The O-word is used for stereotyping people. Every single one of these fears that people have about hiring the “overqualified” is based on no facts, but only based on stereotypes.

The “O” word is useless and should be eliminated from recruitment. Go on, just hire the best and brightest. Even if they bring more to the table than you want. You can’t go wrong with great people.

Do you have other reasons why the people should not be rejected for being “overqualified”? Post your comments.The point is too important to just be limited to 15 reasons.

Author’s profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobkorz

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Bob Korzeniowski

Bob Korzeniowski, MBA, CPA, PMP is a digital native with great experience in consulting and experience in a leadership position. He also has experience in Business Analysis and as a Software QA Analyst. Documentation and process improvement are big things with him. Please visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobkorz/ to know more about him.

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