When you post a job for an open position, you will generally receive applications from all types of candidates. You will get candidates who don’t quite have enough qualifications, some will meet most of the job requirements, and then you will have some candidates who are overqualified for the job.

how to turn down an overqualified candidate

Overqualified candidates are unique in the sense that they have more than the required qualifications. But there are also questions as to why they are applying for the job. COVID-19 has significantly boosted the number of overqualified candidates who are looking. As a result, the question of hiring overqualified candidates has been much debated by many organizations.


Employers should always think twice before hiring an overqualified candidate. There are a lot of reasons why you should potentially reject them and look elsewhere. Here we will talk about the potential disadvantages of hiring an overqualified candidate, when you should turn them down, and how.

Why being overqualified is bad

There are lots of reasons you could benefit from an overqualified candidate in the right situation. But there are also many potential issues that could arise. They include:

  • The candidate may not fully understand what a job entails.
  • Candidates could have issues working under a manager who has less experience than they do.
  • They could quickly become bored with the job.
  • They are not in the role long-term and leave as soon as something better comes along.

These are some of the many reasons companies choose to turn down overqualified candidates.

When should you turn down an overqualified candidate?

As with all candidates, it is recommended you inform the candidate they are no longer in the running as soon as you disqualify them from consideration. Don’t wait and draw out the process any longer than it needs to be.

How to turn down an overqualified candidate

Turning down an overqualified candidate can be somewhat of a tricky situation. Blatantly telling them they are overqualified for the job could open the door for discrimination issues.

It’s important to word your rejection email carefully. Don’t use any language they could interpret as being discriminatory. Some may read overqualified as a reason to disqualify them from the job because they are a mature job seeker and older.

Get More Recruiting Tips on Our Blog

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IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm supporting clients across the country. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have specialist teams of recruiters in Executive Search / Board & C-Suite, Technology, Media, Digital & Marketing, Accounting & Finance, Financial Services & Insurance, Cannabis, Startup, Data Science, Consumer, eCommerce & Retail, Operations & HR, Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Engineering, Legal & Professional Services, Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences, Non-Profit & Sustainability, and Sales. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.

Tanya Schwartz Toronto Recruiter

Tanya Schwartz

Tanya is a Senior Director, Client Services, with more than 20 years of experience headhunting across numerous industry sectors, including Fashion, Operations & HR, Manufacturing, Administration, Retail, and Sales Recruitment. Her broad and lengthy track record of experience makes her a go-to partner for searches across all industries.

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