Don’t be afraid to hire the overqualified

During my ten years as a small business owner, I experienced plenty of opportunity to interview job applicants that were all suitable, but who had varying degrees of qualification. Here are some true life encounters to support my belief in this article that advocates hiring overqualified candidates.

Staff turnover in the restaurant field is always high for a multitude of reasons. Most applicants will apply for a position they are modestly qualified for, and with some training and familiarization the employee may become independent in a short time. But sadly, in general, most employees soon become complacent and just do what is required, not too much more.

A common denominator that was present for three overqualified candidates I employed through the years. Almost naturally they assumed more responsibility than was asked of them. Fellow employees observed their self-confidence and co-workers eventually empowered them to take on leadership roles. Each employee embraced the new responsibilities that their peers effectively awarded them and continued to accept increased duties.

Many business owners are inclined to have a take-charge or domineering personality. It is almost required for success in certain environments. At some point during a business owner’s career, a vacation or absence will be necessary that can inflict widespread panic and feelings of loss of control. However, this is when the overqualified employee can make all the difference, allowing an owner to instead feel confident that the business is in capable hands.

At the same time overqualified employees may recognize the difference they make and over-assess their worth, putting pressure on the boss for higher compensation. It can be a tough call for an owner to make – how can he keep the employee content but avoid breaking the budget?

Communication with overqualified employees is especially important. A large number of problems arise from a lack of understanding or an inability to see things from another point of view (that of the business owner). Daily interaction with these employees shows genuine interest, support and can aid in detecting unexpressed discontent or other issues. When problems arise, they can be dealt with quickly and an investment in an overqualified employee protected.


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