Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
Recruiting Talent That's Overqualified in 4 Steps

Recruiting Talent That’s Overqualified in 4 Steps

When it comes to recruiting talent, there’s no shortage of overqualified candidates. Conventional hiring wisdom leads us to believe candidates exceeding standard role expectations are just too risky to hire. 

In fact, nearly 71 percent of hiring pros in our new research agreed the number of overqualified talent in today’s job market complicates filling entry-level roles. However, the majority (87.2 percent) of respondents said they would hire an overqualified candidate. 

The debate over overqualified talent takes an already complex recruitment process and makes it even more challenging. Those who have qualifications that exceed role requirements are often negatively stereotyped. They’re looked at as entitled, always looking for a pay raise or promotion, continually bored, and disengaged. 

While recruiting overqualified talent can be risky, we’ve found that it can also be rewarding when approached the right way. Here’s how you can effectively recruit talent for roles they’re overqualified for:

1. Evaluate past work experiences

When someone is overqualified for a role, there’s more potential for them to grow bored. Of course, it’s challenging to determine this until the candidate is actually in the role. But only 35 percent of hiring pros in our research, The Risks and Rewards of Hiring Overqualified Talent, consider if candidates would be satisfied starting in a less-challenging position before making an offer

It’s important to evaluate past work experiences when recruiting talent. In fact, past job experiences ranked No. 1 in our research for how respondents assess whether a candidate has the right skills and experience level. 

To uncover red flags, ask candidates why they left previous positions. This can lead you to understand whether they get easily bored with mundane tasks or if there was an inability to see a future beyond the role they were in. 

Use their responses to guide follow-up questions. Such as, if they didn’t feel challenged in a former role and know they are overqualified for your position, why do they believe this role is different?

2. Connect face-to-face from the start

Assessing overqualified talent goes beyond looking for role fit. Recruiting talent to grow with your company means evaluating if they fit with the culture. This can’t be done without a face-to-face connection with the candidate. Do this by meeting in-person or with live video interview early in the screening process. 

During the interview, ask cultural fit questions. Find out what motivates the candidate. Learn why they’re passionate about your product or service to see if they’d be happy on the team until a more suitable position opens up. Without a chance for face time with candidates, it’s easy to write off candidates or misinterpret their passion and interest. 

3. Be direct about satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is a no-brainer for avoiding turnover. Unsurprisingly, 46.3 percent of hiring pros told us they would only hire overqualified talent if they’d be happy and fulfilled in the role. Without job satisfaction, overqualified talent won’t feel connected to the role or the company. 

But role satisfaction questions come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes candidates don’t even know you’re assessing to see if they’d be satisfied in the role. With overqualified candidates, direct questions are the best form of action. 

Ask candidates what they specifically need to feel satisfied as a member of the team. Do they need an exact timeline of when they’ll be promoted out of the role? Do they want to perform tasks that challenge them, even if they’re outside of the job description? 

4. Look to the future

When a candidate is overqualified for a role but is still interested in applying, chances are they’re looking to get their foot in the door. Just over 30 percent of hiring pros would only hire overqualified candidates with a clear direction on expanding the role to meet their qualifications. This is a positive attribute as it shows they want to be part of the company’s future. 

Recruiting talent without a clear path forward from the start sets them up for failure. Once disengagement and boredom set in, they will be off to another role with a more promising future. Ask candidates why they applied for the role, where they hope to see it go, and their ideal timeline. Having all of the information upfront sets everyone up for a successful long-term relationship. 

The Risks and Rewards of Hiring Overqualified Talent


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.