6 Talent Hunters share how they manage overqualified candidates

In today’s economic climate where we are seeing more job applications come through than before, you might notice an increasing flow of candidates expressing interest in roles that they may appear to be overqualified for.

How can we manage this most effectively? What do we need to be aware of and how can we incorporate this into our hiring strategy?

We spoke to some of your peers to find out. What do you think? Use the comment section to share your thoughts!

Leigh Peters
Head of Recruitment at 2degrees NZ

The first thing we do is go back and look at the ad and role title to see if there is some misalignment with the role and the way we have advertised it. 

We will often give a strong but overqualified candidate a call, so we can understand their motivations and what is going on for them – it can be a quick way to Talent pool some great candidates for future opportunities.   

We also have a specific email response that we use to decline an overqualified candidate, which explains that their experience exceeds the scope of the role and provides contact details if they want to have a discussion. 

Edan Haddock
Talent Manager at Flybuys

It is important not to automatically make assumptions.

I know in my personal experience where I shifted from a large corporate, managing a multi-regional team of recruiters, to a what was initially a standalone, I perhaps wouldn’t have made it through an application process if it wasn’t for an exceptional consultant that took the time to understand my motivations and what I was seeking in my next role. 

Take the time to connect with this Talent, and even if the result is that the role isn’t that the candidate will progress, this candidate may be perfect for one of your other Talent pools. Investing in a smart and intuitive ATS (LiveHire for us at Flybuys) will help you manage this communication during high volume peaks.

Pavi Iyer
Talent Acquisition Lead at Catapult

I always find the biggest push back I have with experienced candidates is from the hiring manager not willing to take a risk for fear of the candidate getting ‘bored in the role’. They are more than capable of doing the role and it is up to the recruiter and Hiring Manager to recognise this as an asset, and skillset addition to a team.

My first response is usually to look at WHY the candidate has applied for the role, speak to them about their current situations that could be affecting the decision to apply for the role in the first place. Maybe they are wanting to take a step back in their career, have more work/life balance or have a passion for returning to the ‘tools’ rather than managing a team – there is a multitude of reasons they have consciously applied for the role.

I always encourage candidates that are applying for a step-down role to mention their reasons in their cover letter. Make it clear what value you can bring to the team and you recognise it is step down, or across, with specific reasons as to the ‘why’ of your decision. This will help give you a voice at the CV screening stage itself.

Sarah Shore
Resourcing Partner at Bupa

For over qualified candidates, like with any candidate, it is important to have an open and honest conversation.

Being overqualified isn’t a good enough reason not to hire. It is important to understand their expectations, and why they are applying for a role that may not provide them with a challenge.

Is applying for the role more of a need than a want due to current job market or due to personal circumstances? Or are they hoping it leads into something better? Or is it something they’re really passionate about?

Having an open and honest conversation helps me to understand if the role could be a good fit. If not, it helps you to provide feedback as to why. Usually the candidate appreciates the honesty and my approach and allows us to stay connected for future opportunities if they have the right qualities. 

Jason Burns
Head of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding at Businessary

Before picking up the phone to an ‘over-qualified’ candidate, I would be reviewing my current hiring strategy.

Am I prepared for the recent changes to the Talent market? Did I set the appropriate expectations with my hiring managers that I am likely to be able to present a much more diverse range of candidates than before?

During the job brief stages, I would discuss what adjustments I could make to the role to take advantage of experienced Talent’s skills. Concerns around ‘stickability’ of these candidates can be alleviated by making the role a contract position (let’s both try before we buy) and I would consider adding another layer of duties or responsibility to keep them interested.

I will also make sure my assessment process solid enough to ensure I am asking the right questions and able to answer those the candidate might have. As TA professionals we need to own this.

Hanita Singh
Talent Acquisition Partner at Victorian Managed Insurance Authority

With a phone call for sure. Thank them for their application, talk through the key selection criteria required for the role, speak to the level of the role within the organisation.

Talk to the motivations of the candidate’s application and speak to the career aspirations and career path. Relate this with what this role is expected to do and re-clarify candidate expectations. Seek their permission to keep their profile as part of Talent pool.

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