Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
4 Reasons Overqualified Candidates are Your Talent Acquisition Secret Weapon

4 Reasons Overqualified Candidates are Your Talent Acquisition Secret Weapon

Conventional talent acquisition wisdom leads us to believe candidates exceeding standard applicant expectations are just too risky to hire. But overqualified candidates are the norm in today’s saturated job market. In fact, 68 percent of U.S. employees believe they are overqualified for their current job, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace

In our recent research, The Risks and Rewards of Hiring Overqualified Talent, we found the majority (87.2 percent) of respondents said they would hire an overqualified candidate. Yet, many hiring pros still believe talent with more than the required experience are a risky choice.

In fact, more than half (54.7 percent) of our respondents stated they believe overqualified employees are more likely to leave for another job. And those who stick around are more likely to request promotions and raises (31.1 percent) or grow bored and underperform (35.3 percent). 

But getting hung up on the risks of overqualified candidates means you could be missing out on a large pool of top talent. The reality is, overqualified candidates will continue to apply to your open jobs and you can’t afford to overlook them. And the fact is the rewards of hiring candidates with too many qualifications far outweigh the risks. 

Here’s why overqualified talent is your talent acquisition secret weapon:  

Overqualified candidates take initiative

Candidates with an excess of skills and experiences get more done. Their above-average job qualifications allow them to take the initiative when other candidates may not have the time or know-how. 

In fact, more than a quarter (27 percent) of hiring pros in our research said overqualified employees are actually more engaged and content than other employees. They get the job done faster, engage in other activities, and even provide creative solutions for their duties and beyond. 

Overqualified candidates boost ROI

Sure, overqualified candidates could grow bored and move onto another role — just the same as any other employee. The important difference is more adept hires require less training, saving time and money in the long run. In fact, 41.9 percent of hiring pros in our report confirmed overqualified candidates quickly train for and learn their new positions. 

Highly experienced hires are more likely to hit the ground running, producing more valuable work, faster, and creating a stronger organizational impact. Even if their stay is short, they provide better ROI than a less-qualified hire. Having a rockstar employee for five months outweighs the lackluster impact of an average employee slogging along for two years. 

Overqualified candidates are independent

A more experienced hire won’t need as much close supervision as other new hires. They may even feel stifled if independence isn’t afforded them. From a management and team perspective, this type of talent brings much-needed autonomy to a new or redeveloped role during a busy time. When these employees require less support, management is able to focus attention on other projects and employees in need.

Autonomy aside, the additional experience and confidence they bring to the job make for easier management overall. If their over-qualification includes leadership experience and skills, they may be able to help their manager.

Overqualified candidates act as mentors

Overqualified talent can also take co-workers under their wings to provide training and mentorship. Adding an experienced employee to a team inspires and, if you’re lucky, even challenges other employees. According to our research, 41.5 percent of respondents noted this type of talent is qualified to teach new skills to other employees. Overqualified hires often have a way of sharing their knowledge and vast experiences with those they work with. 


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.