From Career Tips, 2009 Volume 11, November 2009
In the October issue, I talked about how critical it is to uncover objections. (www.JHACareers.com/ProblemDontKnowAbout.htm) Now let's talk about how you go about doing that in the context of a job interview.
So, just how do you uncover objections?
Naturally, you should be subtly working on this throughout the interview, probing and carefully watching and listening to reactions. Now when you get to the end of the interview, you should be direct. Show the courage (and confidence) to look the hiring manager in the eye and ask about this.
Many candidates have been taught to ask a question like:
"What would prevent you from offering me the job?"
I don't like this question, because it takes a negative stance. It assumes there is some objection, and invites the interviewer to dwell on all the reasons you might not be the best candidate. At the same time that it surfaces problems, it may cause the interviewer to dig deeper to unearth them...not always the best tactic.
On the other hand, what if you asked along the lines of:
"What else could I tell you to convince you that I'm the candidate you would want to hire?"
Not only does this help identify any possible objections, it presents you as a confident, upbeat professional, modeling the sort of behavior that makes you a top notch employee. It invites the interviewer to focus on the positive attributes of your candidacy, and to listen to your case for what else might help 'sell' you.
At the same time, let's be realistic. Most times, there will be some issue, some unanswered question, some point not addressed as well as it might have been. If there weren't, shouldn't the hiring manager simply offer you the job right away? How often have you received a call with the offer that same day?
If there is an objection, you need to answer it right away as best you can. You can also follow up in your thank you letter with more evidence as to why that shouldn't be an issue. And after you answer it, you should go right back to discovery mode, trying to make sure there aren't other issues you need to resolve.
Many hiring managers will be cagey, not admitting directly to an objection. You need to pay close attention to both the answer you receive and how it's delivered. The body language, pauses, tone and inflections may reveal issues you should address, even when the words themselves don't indicate an objection.
For example, if the interviewer pauses, and says slowly, "Well, I can't think of anything specific right now," there's a pretty good chance that there is something you aren't being told that could hold you back from reaching the next round.
If you sense there is something that hasn't been explicitly expressed, call attention to it! For example, you might observe:
"I get the sense that you have some hesitation. Can I ask what that might be?"
The worst that happens is that the hiring manager continues to avoid the question, and you have no choice but to move on. The best is that the interviewer either now reveals the issue, or confirms that the hesitation was due to something unrelated (perhaps thinking about how best to sell you to his or her boss!). In either case, you demonstrated tenaciousness and perception, good skills to help sell you for almost any role!
Next time, I'll take this last point a bit further, talking about calling attention to behavior...