Please, take a seat

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I have had a few interviews in my time. Not many I admit but one of the reasons I have come across on being rejected for a role I thought suited my experience and qualifications is that the employer believed I was over-qualified for the job being offered. That got me thinking.

In what other area of business would such criteria be used as to reject the better product at the price the business was willing to pay. If managers were offered an higher specification piece of equipment at the lower spec price what would the outcome be?

In my experience when offered an higher spec computer or camera for the same price as the lower spec alternative buyers nearly always go for the higher spec item irrespective of whether those higher specifications will or will not be used. The mere fact that the item is considered a bargain is enough to drive the purchase.

The same does not seem to hold true for the market in labour.

If someone has put themselves forward for a role the presumption should be that by putting themselves forward the candidate is serious about taking up the position. If the candidate is ‘over qualified’ then that ought to represent a plus for the business seeking to fill a position as there is a potential for added value. The optimal strategy for the employer would be to offer the job to the candidate and let the candidate decide if they thought that they were over qualified for the job, having learned what the position entails, and therefore allow the interviewee to reject it at the job offer stage. Is the candidate not better positioned to evaluate their skills and experience and to match those to the job rather than for the employer to second guess the candidates motivation? If the candidate takes the role then the business gains. If the candidate rejects the offer then the business has not lost out and can move onto the next best qualified candidate. Clearly there is a difference to buying a piece of kit to hiring a human. The machinery has no brain or emotions and once it is acquired the machine will not walk out of the door if it gets a better offer to be a machine elsewhere. But there is a presumption at the interview stage that the motivation of a potential candidate can be detected and that this is a factor that needs to be taken into account when sizing up who to employ.

The argument is that the candidate is taking the job at a less than optimal point for themselves. That they may be accepting it simply for the money or because no other prospect is available at present and that when they can find a job with more money or better prospects then they will simply jump ship and move on to the next job. But this could equally apply to any candidate who, driven by ambition, will seek to improve there career by seeking out better and more highly paid opportunities. By rejecting a candidate who by the employer’s own definition might bring more to the role than expected the business must inevitably be losing out somewhere by not acquiring those value added skills in human capital which could increase the growth and the development of the business in ways in which the employer may not even have envisaged.

Of course the real reason could simply be that the employer is just using a polite set of words to let the candidate down gently and between the lines the real meaning is, “Work here! You must be joking? There is no way you would fit in.”

Ho Hum. Roll on the next, “where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”, question.