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Problem You Don't Know

You Can't Solve A Problem You Don't Know About!

From Career Tips, 2009 Volume 10, October 2009


I'm constantly amazed at the number of job candidates who, when asked how an interview went, respond


"I don't know ... I think it went well."


The next question is obvious. "What did you do to uncover any objections they might have?" And I already know that the answer is "Not enough."


You can't take a passive approach to this and succeed. It is your job to uncover any possible objections to your candidacy, and then to answer them! After all, the only objection you can never answer is the one you don't know about.


Many candidates are afraid to bring up issues with an interviewer. They fear that inviting a discussion about objections will:

  • Surface objections that didn't exist,
  • Emphasize ones that weren't that serious,
  • Put them on the defensive, so that they won't be able to field the objections well, and
  • Tank their candidacy.


It is highly unlikely that you would ever surface an objection that didn't already exist on some level. And I can guarantee you that an unexpressed objection doesn't go away. If anything, it tends to grow and become more critical over time. As the hiring manager interviews other candidates, his or her senses are now tuned to watch for the weakness perceived in you, and this creates repetition that tends to magnify your issue with each new interview.


If you don't know about some perceived problem, you miss the opportunity to provide the answers to help you recover from it. And it may be a simple misunderstanding - perhaps the interviewer missed the significance of one of your answers, or never thought to probe deeply enough into an area of potential concern, or just misinterpreted what you were trying to say. If you knew that, it might be very easy to clear up the misunderstanding.


For example, suppose the job I'm offering involves extensive negotiation with external vendors. You've given me what you thought were powerful examples of your negotiation skills, but I'm hung up on the fact that they were all internal negotiations - ones I consider "friendly", and therefore easier. You walk away thinking that you nailed it, while I'm still wondering if you can do the job.


If you had uncovered the disconnect, then you could have given me an additional example of external negotiation that would have sealed the deal!


Even if it is a real weakness in your candidacy, and you don't succeed in changing the hiring manager's mind, you haven't done yourself any harm. You've given it your best shot, and have gone out swinging instead of being called out on easy strikes. And even then, you have one last shot - the thank you letter, in which you can try to make your best case to overcome an objection THAT YOU NOW KNOW ABOUT!


Keep in mind that the core of any truly influential conversation (job interview, prospect meeting, sales proposal, discussion of career goals with your boss, etc.) is to dig deep into challenges. Objections are just one example of challenges to explore.


Next issue I will delve into how to go about uncovering objections.


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