5 years ago
August 27, 2019

Should You Hire an Overqualified Sales Candidate? 5 Things to Consider

Finding top talent is challenging today. Unemployment rates are low and there has never been more competition for top talent. It has also become more common for overqualified candidates to…

Rhys Metler

Finding top talent is challenging today. Unemployment rates are low and there has never been more competition for top talent. It has also become more common for overqualified candidates to apply for positions that are lower than their skill set.

It’s common for sales organizations to receive a plethora of applicants for an open sales position. Some have the right qualifications, while others are not quite right for the role, and some appear to be overqualified. Sometimes, the overqualified candidate appears to be the front runner.

This begs the question, should you hire an overqualified sales candidate?

Here Toronto sales headhunters outline some of the key considerations and pros and cons of hiring an overqualified candidate for a sales role.

Things to Consider When Hiring Experienced Candidates

Hiring an overqualified candidate is not an easy decision. There are many things to think about. An overqualified candidate can have a very positive or potentially negative impact on your sales team. When thinking about hiring an overqualified sales professional, consider:

1. Your immediate talent need: Do you have an immediate need for talent? Does the candidate fit the role? Can the candidate help you fill your current talent void?

2. Short and long term effects: What are the short term and long term impacts of hiring an overqualified candidate? Will it benefit you short and long term? Is it only a short term fix?

3. The candidate’s motivation: Why is the candidate applying for the role? What is their motivation? Are they just looking for a paycheck? Do they have a desire to work for your company? Are they seeking a specific type of opportunity?

4. Cultural fit: Even if they are not someone you would typically hire, does the overqualified candidate fit your company culture better than other candidates?

5. Your recruiting and talent management strategy: Does hiring overqualified candidates fit within your current approach to how you manage your talent? Could it cause a disruption?

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Overqualified Sales Candidates

As Toronto sales recruiters, we know there are potential risks and rewards in hiring an overqualified sales candidate. Here are the pros and cons to consider:

Toronto sales headhunters explain the pros and cons of hiring an overqualified candidate

The Advantages of Hiring Overqualified Sales Candidates

  • Reduced ramp-up time: Overqualified candidates are easier to train. These candidates have more experience and, in most cases, simply need to learn your company’s procedures. They can get up to full speed quickly and help get production back on track.
  • Mentorship: Overqualified candidates can act as a pseudo mentor and on-the-job trainer for more junior sales team members. They can share their experience and offer advice to others on the sales team, potentially taking some of the stress off sales managers.
  • They can take on more: Overqualified candidates are willing to take on new challenges. Experienced candidates can have strong leadership skills that most people in the position do not possess. They can do things beyond the scope of the job. In this sense, you can leverage their experience and get more out of the position.
  • You can let them be: Since the candidates have more experience, once they are comfortable in the sales role, you can let them be. You won’t need to monitor them as closely as other new hires.
  • New perspectives: More experienced new hires bring a unique perspective. They’ve worked for other organizations, and they can look at common issues and problems from a fresh perspective. They can bring new ideas and offer suggestions for ways to be more efficient.

The Disadvantages of Hiring an Overqualified Sales Candidate

  • Create conflict: More experienced candidates are more likely to overstep their role. They are more likely to challenge management and create potential problems. They may see things differently or believe there is a better way to approach things. This is particularly the case if the candidate is older/more experienced than the sales manager.
  • Short term fix: Many overqualified candidates see more junior roles as a short term fix and a way to keep a job until their ideal position becomes available. Once the right job comes around, they will jump ship and exit the organization.
  • Promotion-focused: Some overqualified candidates see more junior roles as a way to get their foot in the door to prove what they can do. Their focus is getting promoted as quickly as possible, rather than concentrating on their current role.
  • Bored and complacent: There is always the risk that when you hire an overqualified sales candidate, they will quickly get bored in their role. This can negatively affect their sales performance, create issues with your sales team, and have a poor impact on your company culture overall.
  • Expect more compensation: Even though they know they are taking a lesser role, overqualified candidates may still feel as though they deserve bigger and more frequent raises. They still want to be compensated based on their experience.
  • Different treatment: Since they have more experience, some overqualified candidates may feel as though they should be treated differently. They may feel as though they should be treated like a senior level member of the sales team and have more clout with management.

When hiring overqualified candidates, it’s important to consider their impact now and in the future. Think about how you can best utilize their skills and experience, even possibly changing the job to better suit the candidate’s abilities. Always be transparent about your plans for the new employee and ensure you are on the same page so they don’t get different expectations.

More Sales Industry Hiring Tips From Toronto Sales Recruiters

Overqualified sales candidates can benefit your company when you find the right fit. Check out these additional blogs from Toronto sales headhunters to get insightful hiring tips:

Why Hiring Mistakes in Sales Are Even More Costly Than You Think

The Best Way to Hold Interviews for a New VP of Sales

Don’t Make These Hiring Mistakes! 4 Mistakes Sales Recruiters Should Avoid in an Interview

How to Close a Star Candidate: 5 Tips From a Sales Recruiter

5 Ways Sales Recruiting Agencies Help Companies Hire Great Employees


SalesForce Search is a Toronto sales recruiting company which specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.