Hiring over qualified people - 3 brilliant reasons and some challenges too

Hiring over qualified people - 3 brilliant reasons and some challenges too

If you’re hiring – hire people who are overqualified for the role you have available. In fact, look at the problem you need solving by a new hire (if there is no problem, why are you hiring?) and think about where that role will be in 6 months to a year, or even longer.

Then hire for the kind of person who meets that future expectation. Always hire people who are overqualified.

Why hiring people who are over qualified is a good thing

1-They will be insanely good at the job you have right now

Somebody who is overqualified for the role will be insanely good at the current role you have available. They should be able to do the role in their sleep – a walk in the park – with their eye’s closed – whatever phrase you like. The current role should be easy for them.

Explain this to them when you talk to them – that they are to grow the role and business…. which leads me to the next reason.

2-Hiring over qualified people will help your company to develop and grow

Somebody who has been there, got the t-shirt and experienced the next stages of your potential journey, will be able to accelerate your growth and learning. They will be able to suggest new ways, new processes, new ideas that nudge, push or pull you towards your Painted Picture.

It’s great to have someone on the team who has experienced so much more than where you are now. They can really accelerate your growth.

Just be sure to find someone who is positive and keen to embrace the hard work – I’ve worked with people who have already been there and done it – and they did nothing but criticise the current world – avoid these people if you can.

3-Hiring over qualified people will help you to avoid pitfalls and mistakes

Because this person is overqualified and can help you grow – they can also help you avoid some of the mistakes and pitfalls that lay ahead.

Why would we not want someone who can help us avoid making mistakes?

Someone who can help us navigate the problems that may lay on our path.

This is the kind of wisdom we should want in our team.

It’s common to hear people say, “let people make their own mistakes, so they learn”, but business is about practice and results, not grand theories and experiments.

Why would we let someone make an obvious mistake rather than teach them how to avoid it?

There will still be mistakes – but the obvious, painful, gnarly mistakes that this overqualified person has seen before – may be mitigated. And that’s a good thing.

But….What if the business grows – and they’re now under-qualified?

If you hire for somebody who can do the job now, and that’s about their level of experience and competence, then you run the risk they will be under-qualified in 6 months to a year. And that means training, coaching, learning, development – which is all good – but if you can minimise that by hiring someone already overqualified – then that’s a good thing.

Avoid the “we have plenty of time to coach” syndrome

I’ve made this mistake a couple of times; of hiring people who are not where I needed them to be – but believing so much in them that I hired them.

I figured with some time, patience, coaching and learning I could get them there – and I could, but when a business is growing – that time, patience, coaching demands and learning resources become stretched.

That’s not to say that you don’t take a chance on someone but have it very clear in your mind that the amount of time you can spend with them is limited.


Of course, you may not have the money to hire the over-qualified person as their rates or salary may be too high. But think about it another way.

  • What value could they release quickly?
  • How much time could they save by showing, guiding, coaching and mentoring?
  • How many problems can they help you solve quickly?
  • And how much money, energy and time could be saved by not having to train and coach them in 6 months when the business shifts, grows or changes?

Pretty soon it makes a lot of economic sense to spend more money and find the right person who is overqualified.

If you don’t have the budget for the salary, you’d better be sure you have the budget for all the other things listed above.

So, challenge the financial team, your manager, the CFO – whoever, and try to persuade them to your way of thinking. Maybe ditch another open vacancy and combine salaries to get the right person? Maybe you need to pull from next quarters budget, or next years?

Have a think about how to convince, persuade and inform those holding the budgets to spend on over-qualified people. It’s my experience that you need fewer of them – and they get a lot more done.

What about the over-qualified person?

Well, make sure you have grand plans for them – and how they will also grow the business, take on more leadership activities, maybe lead the team. There must be growth for them too.

They will get to help define the path, the strategy and the growth. They will be able to use their skills to grow the business, themselves and others.

They must have a compelling plan too.

And don’t forget, people love to solve compelling and interesting problems – make sure you communicate how compelling your problems are and how this new hire can help you solve them

Overqualified people solve problems and add value to the business – and that sounds like a good outcome from hiring.