Are they ‘too smart’ for the job? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Are they ‘too smart’ for the job? Maybe that’s not such a bad thing

Assumption: A job applicant who’s way smarter than she needs to be is going to get bored fast and leave.

Fact: An intellectually overqualified applicant is actually less likely to quit in a hurry, leaving you in the lurch.

That’s the conclusion drawn by the authors of a new study of 5,000 U.S. workers. The data, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was analyzed by researchers from St. Ambrose University and the universities of South Carolina and Connecticut. The study found that in jobs with low cognitive demands – like garbage collectors or car washers – smart people are less likely than average to quit.

The researchers said brainy candidates have many reasons for seeking a simple job: lifestyle or health choice, affinity for a company’s values or plain old need of a paycheck.

Action steps for hiring managers: Don’t automatically reject overqualified job candidates. Instead, probe to understand the applicant’s rationale.

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