Why Underqualified Candidates Are Getting Hired

These are hard times and secure employment is becoming harder to come by for many today. However, employers are also finding it hard to pay for qualified individuals. Not every company has the luxury of filling vacancies with the best eligible candidates. During these hard times, it is no surprise that many employers also opt to put even significantly “underqualified” people on their payroll just to keep their finances in the black.

That said, there are positive outcomes for those who choose to tread this path. David K. Williams, CEO of the company Fishbowl and a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine, says that many companies, particularly those in their initial stages, are not in the position to provide substantial pay rates even for just one “superstar” employee.

Williams states that most companies, not all, “are better off in discovering their own superstars.” He adds that employers play a crucial role to their development by “making and creating a healthy holding environment that allows and encourages them to grow.”

Williams, however, said that hiring underqualified people does not involve just accepting any applicant that comes through their doors. Finding the right applicant means indentifying the core traits he looks for in a candidate, which he describes as the 7 Non-Negotiables: Respect, Belief, Loyalty, Commitment, Trust, Courage and Gratitude or the 7 NNs. Williams wrote the tenets of the 7 NNS with current Fishbowl president Mary Michelle Scott.

A candidate who displays such traits is worthy of serious consideration, even if his or her qualifications do not match the job description of the position he or she is applying for. Williams gauges potential employees using such an approach, asking them how would they handle tough situations and then look for signs which can be found in body language, eye contact, how articulate they are and how good at listening they are.

Williams also believe that employees who come from different professional experiences or are still fresh have lower chances of bringing in bad habits to the workplace. Most of them are probably learning a lot of things for the first time, meaning their capacity for growth will be huge. This is a big advantage for the company as they no longer have the need to “un-train” them. Instead, they are adding more to the existing skill sets of their employees.

Simply put, Williams says that he would rather look for someone who is hungry and eager to learn and willing to embrace challenges. The Fishbowl CEO is also proud to say that only two out of their 18 software product developers have a solid background in software programming. The rest come from wholly different fields of expertise like plumbing, inventory monitoring, and customer support.

“When someone is this eager and excited to excel, and is given the environment to thrive in, miracles transpire,” Williams said.

Will this approach work for other companies? Williams does not provide a concrete answer, but instead hopes that his view on hiring underqualified candidates will make other employers consider the possibilities. All they need to do is recognize the individuals’ potential and then provide them with an environment where they can grow and excel.


  1. jeoff says:

    I have always believed that this is a smart business decision. You want to hire someone you can train be what you need in the company, rather than what they think you need. Highly qualified people are often set in their ways. Not to mention the pay difference!

  2. ron says:

    This is true! My brother works as a computer programmer and has trouble getting hired because he has a degree, but only really needed a diploma. I think most companies think they’d have to pay him too much, or he won’t stick around.

  3. Patricia Green says:

    The people getting hired might be qualified for the job, but because they are straight out of school they don’t expect much as far as pay goes. They are getting hired at far less then a qualified and experienced person would. So it isn’t under qualified it’s under experienced.

  4. George Strong says:

    Variations of my story are being lived, one by one, by legions of college graduates confronting a tight job market. And one by one, generational attitudes are being formed about work, security and even family, particularly among people younger than 25.

  5. Insight says:

    Thanks for the useful info.

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