10 Reasons to Ignore the Myth of the Overqualified Worker

by Dr. John Sullivan

Imagine being assigned a physician and then purposely rejecting them solely because they were overqualified for your medical situation. Well, that’s exactly what happens when hiring managers reject candidates who have “too many” qualifications.

There is simply no excuse in this new era of data-based recruiting to adhere to this old wives’ tale in hiring. I have written in the past about the cost of rejecting “job jumpers” and in this article, I will focus on the false assumption that hiring candidates who are “overqualified” will result in frustrated employees who will quickly quit.

There is simply no data to prove any of the negative assumptions that are often made about overqualified prospects or candidates.

No Proven Performance Issues In Being Overqualified

It may initially seem difficult for most firms to prove or disprove the value of rejecting overqualified candidates simply because they were never hired and therefore the firm has no performance or turnover data on them. However, firms can calculate the average performance and retention of the few new hires who slipped through with excess qualifications and compare it to the performance level of your average hires.

Another alternative is to rely on academic studies, including a significant one from Erdogan and Bauer at Portland State University that concluded the overqualified, if hired, get higher performance appraisal ratings and perform better than average hires. And if these new hires are empowered as employees, they do not have lower job satisfaction, lower intentions to remain, or higher voluntary turnover.

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