Justifying Hiring Overqualified Talent

News Flash: The candidate you think is overqualified, you should have hired them. Contrary to popular belief, a study undertaken by the Harvard Business Review showed that overqualified workers “tend to perform better than other employees, and they don’t quit any sooner.” It goes on to explain that providing the new employee a sense of empowerment, such as managerial or supervisory status, or even something as simple as autonomy, can alleviate the concerns you or the new employee may have.

So what exactly are the benefits of hiring an overqualified employee?

New Insight

Overqualified hires are overqualified for a reason. They have the skills to succeed and do well, and depending on their past experience could likely bring some vital information over to your team that could provide an immense benefit. This can be especially beneficial if you hire from a competing company, or if you work in an industry that is incredibly dynamic. For example, your company may have been slow to implement a specific method, and can thus turn to their new employee for assistance in getting it off the ground. Not only is this great for your company as a whole, but it proves to the supposedly “overqualified” candidate that their skills and expertise are welcome and instrumental to the growth of the company.

New Challenges

Hiring an overqualified individual can be the perfect opportunity to develop or initiate a new project. Leveraging their experience to get a new project off the ground or, on the other end of the spectrum, work out the kinks of an existing project, is a great way to dismiss the concerns that tend to arise when broaching the subject of an overqualified employee.

Less Training Time

Time is money. You know it, your employees know it, and if you hire an overqualified candidate, it’s likely that they will require less time to devote to training, thus freeing them up for more important projects. As a result, they can hit the ground running, or spend the time that would have been spent training working with other team members for the purposes of cross-training or mentoring.


Overqualified employees have typically been in the industry for a long time. After all, that’s one of the reasons they’re considered “overqualified.” But with this experience comes relationships that can be leveraged to your advantage. Most quality workers are always keeping their fingers on the pulse of new opportunities, and as a result overqualified workers can likely help create new leads.

Like all new hires, you should base your decision on a variety of factors. However, while the lure of hiring someone slightly less qualified in exchange for lower salary or less negotiation may be strong, you should resist and hire who you feel can bring the most benefit to your team and your company. You should also find ways to work their experience to your advantage in the negotiation process. For example, an overqualified employee will have more of a reason to stay, rather than use the new role as a stepping stone, if you offer them quality benefits and compensation.

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