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‘Over-qualified’ employees may benefit employers


New York: Ever faced job rejection due to “over-qualification”? But over-qualification — the condition of employees who believe that their qualifications exceed the requirements of their jobs — may actually be beneficial for the employers, says a new study.

The phenomenon has been widely considered harmful for organisations, which is why most companies tend to screen out such job applicants.

But, Jasmine Hu and Kaifeng Jiang from the University of Notre Dame found otherwise. Hu and her colleagues spent six months conducting interviews and studies of 11 information technology companies in China.

They discovered that “when individual employees feel that they are not the only ‘big fish in the pond’, and when over-qualification becomes a norm rather than exception within the group, they tend to have more favourable reactions toward their own over-qualification status and perform better”.

“Managers may benefit from understanding that as over-qualification becomes normalised in the workplace, it exerts a more positive influence over such behaviours as job performance and citizenship,” Hu said.

“Furthermore, organisations should celebrate employees’ qualifications when they are first brought on board and point out how these over-qualified employees are in good company by highlighting that they will be working with a highly qualified group,” she added.

Managers could also highlight the interpersonal compatibility within a group to promote the positive influence of over-qualification on employee attitudes and behaviours, according to Hu.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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