12 Things Startups Should Consider Before Hiring an Overqualified Candidate

Building a team for a startup company is no small feat. Hiring employees who are reliable, competent, and talented is a top priority. But what happens when you find a candidate who seems to be overqualified for the position?

There are advantages and disadvantages to consider before hiring an overqualified employee at a startup. To find out more, we asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council the following: 

Q. A person applies to work with a startup and appears to be overqualified for the position. What should leaders consider before hiring them?

Their best answers are below:

1. Longevity

Overqualified employees are great for productivity and innovation but tend to exit early for better employment opportunities. Therefore, I suggest creating a financial incentive for the employee to remain with the company. As a startup, you may not have a lot of financial resources now, but you may be able to entice overqualified employees with the promise of a deferred benefit. – Matthew PodolskyFlorida Law Advisers, P.A.

2. Long-Term Value

What long-term value does the applicant bring? Can the firm envision this person playing a key role in maturing and accelerating the growth of the company? Perhaps the individual will make an investment in the company by taking a pay cut. Investigate the motives of the individual before dismissing them outright. Look to make a win-win relationship. Be honest about finances and let them decide. – Rodrigo Mora5448 Enterprises

3. The Short-Term Benefits You’ll Gain

When hiring a person who appears to be overqualified for the position, consider that they don’t need to stick around forever. Hiring and training a new employee is a time-consuming process, but if you hire someone who’s overqualified, they’ll be easier to train. Even if they don’t stick around for a long time, in a short time they can help you grow your startup, then train the next person. – Thomas GriffinOptinMonster

4. The Expense

Hiring someone who is overqualified means a higher expense for your company because you have to compensate them for their skills and experience. Consider if you have the budget to do so. If not, it might be worth it to hire someone who has room for more growth and can do so with your company. – Stephanie WellsFormidable Forms

5. Whether You Have Potential Growth Opportunities

If a person applies who is overqualified and you want to hire them for a position, then be sure you are compensating them well and providing ways to challenge them so they won’t move on quickly. If you can’t afford to pay them what they deserve or you don’t have opportunities for growth within your company, I would not recommend hiring them. Don’t be the one who holds them back. – Diego OrjuelaCables & Sensors

6. Training

When you hire someone who’s overqualified, keep in mind they might be more difficult to train. They already have set ways in which they do things, which means they may not take to doing things your way, even if they should. – Jared AtchisonWPForms

7. Their Willingness to Work in the Weeds

In smaller businesses, experienced professionals don’t always thrive if they don’t have helpers around to solve various problems for them. Most director-level candidates and above have been so far removed from the execution component of their jobs that they forget how to work through many of the labor-intensive projects. Keep this in mind before hiring someone who’s overqualified for the role. – Firas KittanehZoma Mattress

8. Why They Applied to This Job

If you noticed that they are overqualified for the job, be sure that they realize it as well. Find out what is the reason behind them applying to the lower-level position. Get to know this candidate before you make any decisions and don’t reject them out of fear that they’ll demand more money or get bored and leave. Anyone can quit and you won’t see it coming, but real talent is hard to find. – Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

9. Alignment

Founders should make sure that the goals are aligned and that the person is not entering the startup career as a result of being disgruntled or having a lack of clear aim. Explain what the startup life entails since roles often play multiple functions. Hours are long, traditional structures and benefits may not be available in the budget of a startup, and compensation includes profit sharing. – Matthew CapalaAlphametic

10. Leadership Potential

When considering an overqualified candidate, see if they are a team player and willing to contribute positive energy to your workplace. Someone who wants to dive out of their comfort zone may provide added value to the team and provide fresh perspectives. If they get bored, however, they may drain the spirit out of others and the motivation to complete work. You would prefer the former candidate. – Patrick BarnhillSpecialist ID, Inc.

11. Their Future Ambitions

When will the next round of growth occur? Will that person be challenged enough and are there larger roles for them to fit into? What motivates them? What ambitions do they have regarding their own skillset and where do they see that advancing in the near future? – Nicole MunozNicole Munoz Consulting, Inc.

12. Your Company’s Future Growth Plans

Your company will grow and evolve, so a critical question to ask is if you think this person will grow and evolve with the company. Overqualification could mean they could help you grow your company more quickly and effectively, but it could also mean that you’d have to pay them a higher salary. Consider your one-to-three-year plan to see if they’d fit into where you see the business then. – Karlo TanjuakioGoLeanSixSigma.com

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

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