Screening Candidates – There is no such thing as Overqualified!


You’ve found the perfect candidate on paper. Let’s call her Sally. She meets every item on your wish list and some. BUT she lives an hour away and she makes $15,000 more than you have budgeted. You think, “Why bother talking to Sally. She will never take the job or if she does, she’ll be gone in a month. She is OVERQUALIFIED.”  So, you only interview candidates that meet 70% of what you are looking for and live within a 15 mile radius.  Why? Because you are projecting. Sure, you wouldn’t travel an hour to work. You wouldn’t take a pay cut. So what? Are you Sally? How dare you make a decision for Sally? Furthermore, why in the world would you pass up the chance of a potential perfect candidate for your team? How does that serve your business well?

Meanwhile, let’s take a stroll through Sally’s mind.

She is waiting for a call thinking that she fits the job criteria perfectly.  She thinks, “I know they will at least call and maybe do a phone screen. OMG, this job is right in the area where we want to buy a house. It’s the perfect school district for my daughter. My mom only lives 3 minutes three minutes away. She could provide after school care and wouldn’t that save a TON in childcare expenses? Yeah, it might be a pay cut but I’m saving so much money in gas, childcare and we get to live in the perfect school district for my daughter. That’s got to be worth a $10,000 pay cut. Maybe they’ll be open to negotiation? I’m calling HR in the morning to see if they got my application because it’s been a month and I know I’d be a great fit.  This could be perfect!”

So two months go by… then three… Sally doesn’t get a call and thinks, “Well, I guess they already had someone else in mind. Bummer.”

6 months later, you have Jake. He is well… OK… you guess.  He requires lots more training than you expected to do but you justify your decision by convincing yourself that he was the best you could find.  With so many talented individuals in the marketplace, you are selling your business short by seeing candidates through your biased opinions.  There is a financial cost to your decision too. Yes, you got Jake within budget, but he is costing you twice that much to fix his errors and to re-train. Not to mention your wasted hours in HR discussing Jake’s performance and how to coach, develop and potentially legally terminate Jake. After all, you don’t want a discrimination lawsuit.  Jake is the only openly gay man on the team and you don’t want a Title VII case on your hands. Sigh… What to do? What to do?

This is the reason why when I hear the word OVERQUALIFIED come out of a hiring manager’s mouth it’s like scraping a chalk board with fingernails. You are not the candidate. You are the hiring manager. There are certain knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that you need in a new hire to make your team run efficiently.  Review the applicant’s profile. Determine if  the applicant possesses those KSA’s. Then, at the very least, pre-screen them through a 30 minute phone call.  Don’t sell yourself, your company or department short because of your own personal hang ups.

Leave a Reply