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When applicants are overqualified

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in Hiring,Human Resources

You've posted an entry-level position, and now you're getting flooded with résumés from candidates with substantial skills, education and experience. What do you do with these overqualified applicants? Here's some expert advice:

Check the job posting. It may not be clear to applicants that the job is entry-level. If all of your applicants seem overqualified, consider rewriting and reposting the job announcement.

Pre-screen applicants. Contact applicants and quickly confirm their interest— while clarifying the job's pay, responsibilities and prospects for advancement— before making decisions about who to interview. Many applicants, upon realizing that the entry-level status and salary aren't negotiable, may opt out.

Check for fit during the interview. Aim to find out what's motivating an applicant. Many workers, either voluntarily (in a quest for work-life balance) or involuntarily (after downsizing), are willing to seek positions for which they're overqualified. Others may simply want to get a foot in the door with your enterprise. Your main interest should be whether they can do the job well. They may move on to better opportunities in the near future— but that may be better than having a lessqualified candidate fail in the job. And if those opportunities are within your enterprise, you may still come out ahead.

"Overqualified" is a dangerous word in an era of both real and perceived age discrimination. As much as possible, make it the candidate's decision, not yours, to conclude that they're overqualified. Ideally, your pool of candidates will include both older and younger workers with a diverse range of experience.

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