Should You Hire Someone Who Is Overqualified For The Job?

Employers are often reluctant to hire a candidate they see as being overqualified, even when choosing from a limited candidate pool. And there are certainly some risks involved with hiring a candidate who is seemingly overqualified for a role, however there can also be some great advantages if you’re able to make it work. So we’ve put together some of the pros and cons of hiring an overqualified applicant.

What does overqualified mean?

A candidate may be described as being overqualified when their skills or education go beyond the requirements of the position. For example, if the job requires an undergraduate degree and you receive an application from a candidate with a relevant master’s, or if one year of relevant work experience is required and a candidate has more than five.

However, it is important to consider how relevant their work experience or education is to the specific needs of the position. An individual with a lengthy work history, for example, may not necessarily be overqualified for the role if only their most recent experience is directly related to the position.

The potential risks

There are a number of potential risks that need to be carefully considered during the recruitment process if you are thinking of hiring an overqualified candidate, such as:

  • Their salary expectation. Are they aware of the rate you are offering or may they expect a higher salary that they see as more in line with their qualifications?
  • Their longevity in the role. There is a chance that an overqualified candidate may be applying for a role as a placeholder while they search for a job at a higher level - but this isn’t always the case. During the interview be sure to ask why they’ve applied for the role as there may be a clear reason why they have taken a ‘step back’ in their career (more flexibility, for example).
  • Their level of engagement. If their qualifications exceed the requirements of the job, there is a chance that the candidate may not be challenged or fully engaged in the role, leading them to become bored or unproductive. Be sure to ask questions that give you a clear idea of their interest in the role prior to hiring.

The potential rewards

But while there may be risks, hiring an overqualified candidate does not guarantee lower job satisfaction or higher turnover. In fact, there are a wide range of advantages to hiring a candidate whose qualifications surpass what you were initially looking for, including:

  • They will be able to pick up tasks more quickly and may require less training. 
  • They will be able to bring in new ideas based on their knowledge and experience. 
  • They may bring additional skills not listed in the job ad that prove beneficial for the company and their team.
  • If they have a good reason for wanting the role, it is likely that they have put a lot of thought into applying for the position and could be a valuable investment for the business over time.

XCL are experts at finding skilled, experienced candidates and filling vacancies for both permanent and temporary positions. Specialising in the automotive, construction, engineering, office & commercial and production sectors, we can advise your internal HR team on every aspect of the recruitment process - from writing the job spec to shortlisting the most suitable candidates and choosing who to hire.

If you’re looking for tips on how to choose between two strong candidates, read our previous article here, or to discuss immediate or future recruitment needs, contact the XCL team on 01484 819900 or send an email to