Should You Hire Overqualified Candidates?

October 24th, 2014

Two of your candidates have made it into the final round of the selection process. And since you have only one available position, you’ll have to make a commitment to one candidate and say goodbye to the other. In almost all ways, the two are equal contenders; they’re both pleasant, they’re both hard-working, and either one will fit right in with the culture of this company and get along well with your clients. But there’s one essential difference: Candidate X holds exactly the requirements and credentials listed in the job post, and Candidate Y offers quite a bit more.

You asked for a bachelor’s degree, which X earned just two years ago. Y holds a Masters and several certifications. You asked for at least two years of experience; X can offer exactly that. Y has been actively engaged in this field for eight years, and two of those years have been spent at the management level. X is interested in working directly with clients, which the job will entail. X has already worked with a wide range of clients across several market sectors. X can do the job. Y can do it better.

This may seem like an easy decision, but before you let X go and hand the job to Y, think twice. Consider these additional possibilities.


Overqualified candidates can be more expensive. If you intend to offer annual cost-of-living and performance-based raises, you may be offering these on a percentage basis, so taking on a candidate at a discount will keep paying off over the years. Overpaying at the start may lead to budget problems a few years down the road. Before you hire Candidate Y, get a sense of the salary range she expects.

Personal Conflict

Overqualified candidates often struggle to accept the authority of those who are younger, less experienced, and less knowledgeable (and rightly so). Before you make your decision, ask Candidate Y about her willingness to accept the status quo instead of pushing for change. Be direct and honest as you do so.


Overqualified candidates often set low sights during the job search so they can land a position—any position—and maintain an income while they continue searching for something better. Is Candidate Y prepared to stay with you for at least one year? Again, just ask her. Be direct. If she hesitates to commit, strike a deal and find out what you can offer that might help maintain her interest. If you aren’t in a position to negotiate, Candidate X may be a wiser bet.

For more on how to navigate the details of your staffing and selection process, reach out to the management experts at PSU.

Identifying Performance Problems in the Workplace

June 20th, 2014

If you already have an annual performance review process in place, then you’re on the right track to a productive and efficient workforce. A yearly one-on-one session between every employee and his or her manager can help workers set and achieve goals, and can also help managers identify and correct performance problems before they become expensive disasters. The best annual performance reviews are documented, fair, positive, and built around measurable success metrics.

But despite their benefits, annual reviews may not be quite enough to keep your company ahead of the competition. Here are a few additional steps that can help you address and head off performance problems before they start…all year long.

1. Don’t let confused employees continue their course of action.

Keep your door, ears, and mind open, and employees will come to you with questions and requests for directions and clarification. Close off any of the three, and employees will be afraid to ask questions. They’ll make assumptions instead, and if you’re like most managers, this isn’t what you want.

2. Track baseline metrics accurately.

Your successful employees process more XYZ forms per hour, and your weaker links process fewer forms per hour and make more mistakes along the way. But before you can identify the slower workers, you’ll have to answer three questions: What is the average per-hour form processing rate in your workplace? What’s the average industry-wide? And what are the workplace and industry averages for error rates?

3. Recognize requests for help and feedback as a sign of strength, not weakness.

When employees come to you for help, support, and an open conversation about how they’re doing, step up. Provide what they need. And recognize that despite what other productivity metrics suggest, these are the valuable employees you want on your team—not the silent grinds who never struggle and never strive to improve.

4. When managers and coworkers complain, listen.

It’s not easy to complain to the boss about a disruptive or unproductive coworker. Nobody wants to do this. It’s also not easy to ask for managerial support when a direct report can’t seem to get it together. When employees and managers come to you with complaints about a weak or unproductive team member, take action. Sit down with the person, get both sides of the story, and fix the problem.

5. Give informal feedback all year long.

Formal reviews should happen once (and certainly no more than twice) per year. But informal verbal feedback is always appropriate, and when it’s positive and constructive, it’s always appreciated.

For more on how to stop productivity problems and get them resolved before it’s too late, reach out to the staffing and management experts at PSU.

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