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Overqualified? A conceptual model of managers’ perceptions of overqualification in selection decisions

Patricia G. Martinez (Management Department, College of Business Administration, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Mark L. Lengnick-Hall (Department of Management, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA)
Mukta Kulkarni (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Bangalore, India)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 26 August 2014




The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual model for conducting research on how human resource and hiring managers form impressions of overqualified individuals and how these impressions affect their treatment of overqualified individuals during selection decisions.


Given the central role of psychological processes within the proposed model, this conceptual paper builds on a social cognition approach.


The proposed model consists of seven primary factors that can help propel research that is dynamic and contextually driven: attributes of the overqualified individual; job attributes; observers’ cognitive overqualification schemas; observers’ attitudes; observers’ categorization processes; the organizational context; and individual factors, all of which influence the observers’ treatment of overqualified individuals.


Most research has focussed on individual-level outcomes of overqualification such as job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and physical and psychological health, while overlooking how organizational decision makers perceive overqualification and how this subsequently affects the likelihood of individuals being selected for an interview. Given the global growth in the number of overqualified workers, understanding antecedents and correlates of overqualification and how these affect organizational selection decisions is a pressing need. The proposed model outlines several factors that can help us better understand the phenomenon of overqualification.



G. Martinez, P., L. Lengnick-Hall, M. and Kulkarni, M. (2014), "Overqualified? A conceptual model of managers’ perceptions of overqualification in selection decisions", Personnel Review, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 957-974.



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