Are you passing over this valuable group of potential employees?

During this recession, many managers have been reluctant to hire applicants who’d previously held positions more prestigious than the one being filled. But recent research suggests those folks may be a good fit for your IT department.

The thinking goes that so-called “overqualified” employees get bored and disgruntled easily, demand too high a salary and quit at the first sign of a better opportunity.

But a study conducted by Dr. Anthony Nyberg of the University of South Carolina says the conventional wisdom may not be correct.

After looking at data on the behavior of 5,000 U.S. employees over a 25-year period, the researchers concluded that in less-demanding jobs, the employees with higher cognitive abilities were actually less likely than others to leave voluntarily.

And those overqualified employees can give companies a lot of talent and experience at a decent cost. That doesn’t mean every one of those applicants will make a good fit, though. Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether to hire an experienced person for your IT department:

  1. “What would it take to keep you here?” — Many times, concerns about retention can be cleared up just by asking the candidate how the problem can be solved.
  2. “What makes a job exciting to you?” — Another top worry is that candidates used to higher positions will be bored at a job with less prestige. In the interview, managers should find out what keeps the applicant interested in a job, and see if the answer fits the position.
  3. “Tell me about a time you and your boss disagreed on how to get something done?” – Sometimes, the more experience people have, the more they’re used to doing things their own way — which can cause problems once the person lands in a new environment. That’s why interviews should see how a candidate reacts to disagreement and change.
  4. “How much of this type of work did you do in your previous job(s)?” — Sometimes, an overqualified applicant is a former manager trying to step down to a production-level job. That can be a problem if the person hasn’t done any hands-on work for several years.
  5. “What are your long-term goals?” — The goal of most overqualified candidates is to get back to a job at a level similar to the one they left. Others are simply tired of management and want to stay at a lower level. It helps to find out the candidate’s expectations for advancement and consider whether the company can offer a compatible path.