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?

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.

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