As a frequent interviewer, I’ve often heard comments along the lines… “He’s overqualified.” This typically is followed with requesting this person be removed from the candidate pool or approached with hesitation.
When I inquire about these concerns, the answers tend to range from “he won’t be happy in this role”, “this is only a temp role for him and it will be a waste of onboarding cost”, or simply “he won’t be interested”.
Occasionally, I can fall victim to this line of thinking especially when considering salary expectations or when I’m extending a role specifically looking for a newbie type person.
Now having been recently on the other side – as the interviewee, I want to go back and kick myself. I applied for a role that yup, I was overqualified for. This means I met all the requirements and all of the desired skills and then some. The response was a short email indicating that I was overqualified and am not be considered further.
Now this highlights other aspects for me that maybe this company wasn’t what I was looking for because even the few times I did feel like I encountered someone overqualified or not a match for this specific posting but a quality candidate, I made a personal connection to indicate this and continued to look for opportunities that would fit. So I find the electronic dismissal to raise questions on my fit anyway. However, this isn’t the point of this post.
Here’s the thing, I was very interested in this company. I loved what they were creating. I loved the described culture (might not have been so true after all). And yes, I loved the location of the company. This was the role that was open and this was the role that I could add value. Was I overqualified, yes. Would I have done a great job, yes. Would I have contributed even more to the company than they hoped for this role, my history says yes. Would I have stayed in that position for years? I have no idea…even when I go in for a specific position, I am often pulled into new ones anyway.
Are these really bad answers? Don’t you want to find a great candidate that can do even more for your company/teams?
Why not let the person decide? Why not at least have the discussion before ruling out the possibility of a fit? Now, one could argue that this was their way of letting me down easy. Maybe, but I’ve been part of these types of discussions and I know that this line of thinking does happen.
So my vow is the next time I’m looking at resumes, the thought “overqualified” is going to look like a bonus not a red flag in any situation.
What’s your stance?