Recently, I spoke with a hiring manager. He wanted to make sure a person he thought was overqualified for a position stayed in the job for two years. (!!) He was asking candidates to commit to his job for two years in the interview process.
If an organization can commit to a candidate for two years, it might be okay to ask a candidate to commit to a job for two years. But I don’t know of any organization that commits to anyone for any length of time, never mind two years. Why would a hiring manager ask a candidate to commit when an organization can’t?
It’s still a hiring manager’s market, but not for long.
I realize you’re concerned about people leaving, especially if you think they are overqualified. So, acknowledge that fear. And consider what you can do about it. Here are some options. Say, “You look like you might be overqualified for this position. Do you really want this position?” Wait for the answer. “Why?” Now, you can have a conversation about why.
- Sometimes people just don’t want to be managers anymore. I know a bunch of previous development managers and writer managers now developers and writers who didn’t want to be managers anymore. It’s that simple.
- Sometimes people can’t find a more senior role in their previous are of domain space expertise. When the telecom area imploded, there were a ton of experts looking for jobs who didn’t change domains. They took successively less-expert roles in telecom. They were overqualified for telecom.
- Sometimes people have an overinflated view of what they can do. You’ll learn whether or not that is the case when they start working for you. In this case, you may be happy you did not insist on a two-year commitment!
A two-year commitment is too much like indentured servantship. It’s unnecessary. To me, it’s wrong. If you really want someone to commit to a person, make it an attractive job, one where the job grows and a candidate can grow with the job. An employee will commit to a job where there is real growth.
But don’t ask someone to commit to a job where there is no sign of growth for some random time period, especially because you are concerned your organization may not let you hire a replacement. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt are bad reasons to ask a candidate for a commitment.