Dealing with tough questions and objections is an essential part of job interviews. Here are four common ones that derail many candidates. Read on to find out what they are and how you can deal with them.
Objection #1: You’ve been fired from your last job
First of all, don’t blow the issue out of proportion, either to yourself or to the interviewer. Remember, this is fairly common these days. Employers know it too.
There are at least three ways you can handle this issue. If you left your previous employer on reasonably cordial terms, consider asking them to allow you to say you resigned from the job. Many employers will agree to this.
Another option is to state the facts in a concise, drama-free manner. Tactfully discuss what happened and acknowledge your role in it. You could mention a difference of opinion or personal style as a root cause. Often, candidates who take this approach find that the whole thing was no big deal to the new employer.
A third way out is to avoid mentioning the job from which you were fired. This may work if you held it for less than five or six months. I personally don’t advocate lying in your resume -- it is unethical and can backfire badly -- but you should be aware that this is an option some candidates use effectively.
Objection #2: You have bad references
Don’t assume that your previous employer will say only good things about you when someone calls up for a reference check. If you suspect that your boss may give bad feedback, find someone else to act as your reference. Possibilities include your boss’s boss or someone else who’s senior enough and has observed your work.
You could also use a client as a reference, particularly if you’re in sales or other jobs involving extensive customer interactions. Other possibilities include bankers or lawyers you deal with. While these are alternatives, the interviewer might wonder why you didn’t mention someone within the company as a reference.
Another option is to briefly explain that you didn’t always see eye to eye with your boss and so you would ask that someone else be approached for a reference check. Many employers appreciate this approach and are willing to go along with it.
Objection #3: You left your job to start a business -- and your venture failed
In many cases, this is a bigger problem in the candidate’s mind than in the interviewer’s. You might assume that the interviewer is casting aspersions on your managerial skills or business abilities.
Actually, his concern may be very different. He might be worried that you’ll get bored or restless in a corporate job and decide to strike out on your own again. Therefore, it’s best to ask questions to find out what the specific concern is. That way, you’ll be addressing the right concern.
When replying, focus on how you exercised initiative and demonstrated drive as well as tolerance for risk and ambiguity. Talk about whatever success you had and what you learned from the experience. Make it abundantly clear that you have satisfied your entrepreneurial urges and are more than willing to settle into a corporate job.
Objection #4: You seem overqualified for the job
There are two possible objections here. One, they might be saying that you may want more money than they’re ready to pay. Second, they might be implying you will get bored and leave for greener pastures soon.
Both these objections may come into play if you’re making a career change.
If money is the issue, explain why you don’t mind taking a pay-cut. Talk about how you’re making a career transition and are perfectly willing to accept lower pay. You might even back this up explaining how you have worked out a new personal budget that’ll allow you to be comfortable at the lower pay. Also talk about non-monetary factors that give you job satisfaction.
For the second objection, the best way out is to detail how you have done lots of research on your new career choice before committing to it. If some of the tasks in your previous jobs that were similar to what you’ll be doing in your new assignment, explain how you did those tasks without complaints. That should alleviate concerns the employer might have about your getting bored in the new job.
Anticipate objections and prepare short, to-the-point responses in advance. At the job interview, answer objections in a confident, calm manner, taking care to uncover the real objection first. Those are the keys to dealing with interview curve balls!
About the Author
Ann Wilson is a successful business author who writes extensively on jobs and careers. Her articles include best tips for job interviews, how to write effective thank you notes after interviews and many others offering cutting-edge advice on interviewing.