We all have run into objections whether we are selling an idea or a promoting a product. This is never truer than when we are marketing ourselves during a job search. The hiring manager often has specific ideas about what he or she is looking for and may have preconceived ideas about how a candidate’s background or experience meets their requirements. Below are six strategies for overcoming an interviewer’s objections:
STRATEGY #1 PREPARE IN ADVANCE. Prior to the interview consider what you know about the position. Based on what you know about the position, what questions do you expect the interviewer to ask? If you were hiring for the position, what questions would you ask? Take a minute now to identify those questions about which you are most concerned.
When preparing for an interview you cannot afford to take a Scarlett O’Hara approach to the interview and put off thinking about your answers until tomorrow. If you are concerned about sensitive questions about your background or experience now, think how much worse it will be during the interview when you respond with that “deer in the headlights” look.
There are hundreds of books on interviewing that can help you. Or for personal assistance seek out a career coach who can help you respond truthfully while eliminating or minimizing the employer’s concern. It is far more productive to prepare for the inevitable than to cling to the hope that the tough questions won’t come up during the conversation.
STRATEGY #2 IDENTIFY THE INTERVIEWER’S HIDDEN CONCERNS. Following are common situations that may arouse concern in an interviewer. You’ve been laid off twice in three years. You were injured on the job and out on disability for several months. You are changing careers. You are taking a step back in job responsibilities. You are applying for a job that pays less than you made previously. Each of these scenarios can be worrisome to an employer. Your job is to recognize that and take steps to reduce their concern or potential exposure.
Take an objective look at yourself from the employer’s perspective. What, if anything about your background may cause concern? Remember, if they perceive you to be a problem they certainly can’t see you as a solution.
STRATEGY #3 ADDRESS THEIR CONCERN(S). In some cases it makes sense to address a potential concern before an employer brings it up. Other times it makes sense to wait until the interviewer asks you about a troublesome situation. There are two ways to approach the issue – one is to address the concern indirectly, the other is to face it head on.
An indirect approach might apply if you are changing career direction. In that case, select success stories that demonstrate an unchanging area of expertise. Pick stories which demonstrate skills that are especially important in the job for which you are interviewing.
Sometimes you may need to address the employer’s concern directly. For example, “If you are concerned about my previous back injury let me assure you that I value my health and have learned a critical lesson about the importance of safety on the job.”
STRATEGY #4 TURN A REAL OR PERCEIVED WEAKNESS INTO A BENEFIT. If the fact that you don’t have certain experience or background is a cause for concern – look for a way that it can be viewed as a plus. One of my clients had a lot of marketing experience. She had done some great campaigns - developing TV commercials and other direct marketing programs for the cable industry. She wanted to switch industries but met with resistance because she didn’t have “industry” experience. Her challenge was to make the fact that she didn’t have “industry” experience a plus for the potential employer. She needed to demonstrate by everything she did what a great marketer she was.
The fact is she knew that not having industry experience might be a point of contention so she figured out how she would deal with it before the interview.
STRATEGY #5 OFFER STORIES DEMONSTRATING YOUR ABILITY TO SUCCEED. In addition to job related accomplishments develop stories that demonstrate your ability to beat the odds and snatch success from the jaws of defeat. Find an angle that emphasizes not only what you can do (skill) but what you are willing to do (motivation).
STRATEGY #6 ASK QUESTIONS THAT DEMONSTRATE YOUR INTEREST IN THE COMPANY. Do your homework! Every question you ask must show the interviewer that you’ve done your research. Learn what challenges they face, about their successes, and hot trends in the industry. Then ask questions that allow you to have a conversation with them about those challenges, successes, and trends. This opens the door for you to tell them how you can solve their problem. And believe me; every hiring manager has a problem, which is why they are interviewing you!
Apply these six strategies to get beyond the interviewer’s objections, to an offer that you can respond to with a resounding YES!