Landing a Job Offer: How to Overcome Objections During an Interview


Anyone who knows even a little about sales understands that the key to success is in overcoming objections and then closing the sale. You can do the same in the job interview – and this technique will take you one step closer to the job offer. In sales, it’s a proven theory that if you can overcome all your prospect’s objections, he or she will have little choice but to agree to your offer. The logic holds that if you can overcome all the objections of the hiring manager, you’ll be more likely to move on to the next step in the process.

This is the Overcoming Objections stage of the interview. As the interview winds down, the interviewer may reveal objections to hiring you, but that’s increasingly rare because employers are terrified to volunteer any information that might get them sued.

What do you do if no objections are raised? It might not mean that none exist, so it’s best to probe to uncover any – because it’s much better to get them out in the open and address them than to let them sit, clouding your future. You can ask the interviewer outright, “Now that you know more about me, can you see any issues that would stand in the way of my success in this position?” or “Is there any reason you wouldn’t consider inviting me back for second interview?” Here’s where the interviewer will probably voice any objections.

Be ready by anticipating and countering objections the employer might raise.

Overcoming objectives can be done in a number of ways, but the keys are to:

  • acknowledge the interviewer’s objection
  • understand the true cause of the objection
  • respond with enough information to defuse the objection

It’s best to anticipate these potential objections before the job interview so you can practice your responses.

Common Objections Raised by Employers in Job Interviews

“I’m concerned you have too much experience [or are overqualified] for this position.”

This comment is the most loaded of objections because it can mean one of several things – and it is your job to discover which one is meant. The good news is that if you got the interview, your qualifications make you an attractive candidate. Most often, this comment conceals a concern about your age, attitude or motivation. Obviously, the interviewer cannot ask your age, but someone with a lot of experience is often older, and the employer may have some concerns about fit, especially if the rest of the department is younger. Older workers also sometimes put out a vibe that because of their vast experience they know it all – and are seen as having an attitude problem. Finally, if you have years in the same type of position, some interviewers will question your drive and motivation to move ahead (incorrectly assuming that everyone wants to do so).

“I’m not sure we can pay you the salary you are seeking.”

Related to the over-experience comment is the salary issue. Employers are always concerned about salary – and hiring employees that best fit their budgets – so the employer may be interested in you, but has a nagging question about affording you. In this case, it’s important to defuse the objection without giving away too much information so that you still have leverage if you do get the job offer.

“I’m not sure you would fit into the team.”

It’s hard to imagine these days a job-seeker lacking experience working in teams, but if for some reason you do not have much experience in teamwork, you must demonstrate that you understand the importance of teams in the workplace and how you can be a team player. Demonstrating your knowledge of the organizational culture will also be a plus in this situation. Address the concern by describing a successful team experience, ideally one in which you took steps to fit into the team.

“I’m concerned about the number of jobs you’ve held in such a short period of time.”

Some interviewers will raise the job-hopper question, so be able to explain the logic of your job history and the skills gained from a variety of positions. Even though employers are not as loyal to their employees as in the past, they still expect employees to be loyal to them.

“We really like you but are just not sure where you fit.”

The good news about this objection is that you have won half the battle because the employer likes you and wants to hire you, but is simply unsure of how to best utilize your skills. The key to your response has to be having the confidence in yourself and the knowledge about the employer to explain clearly why you are a fit for the position you are interviewing for.

“Were you fired from your last job?”

Unless the employer has inside information about you – or you are currently unemployed while job-hunting – this should not be a common objection. However, if you have been downsized or fired, anticipate this objection. It’s common to be defensive about the subject since no one likes being fired – even if you were let go simply because your job was eliminated – so put that behind you when responding to this objection. Find a way to showcase how the termination experience has given you new insight.

In attempting to overcome objections remember to not dwell on the objection, but instead, once you are sure you understand it, turn it around to overcome it. If the interviewer has uncovered a weakness, find a way to turn it into a strength.

Always remember that the interview really is a conversation between two parties who are both trying to showcase their best points. Your goal is to leave the interview knowing you did your best to sell your unique mix of skills and accomplishments while overcoming any objections raised by the interviewer.

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