How to Handle Objections in 5 Steps

Written by Jonathan

Objections are part and parcel of interviews. Why?

There are two main reasons. Firstly, interviewers want to see how you deal with a knock back and how you overcome it. Secondly, it’s because they have a genuine concern about your suitability for the role.

None of us like objections or knock backs.  If we’re not careful we take it all very personally. An interview is about us showcasing our best side, not anything negative.

But interviewers have objections. It’s happened to me and it’ll happen to you if you’ve not already experienced it.

5 Steps to Handling Objections

So what can you do to overcome them? Here are 5 steps to help you:

1. Anticipate objections

Many objections that interviewers will have can be anticipated in advance. These might include:

  • Lack of experience
  • Lack of a particular skill
  • Gaps in your CV
  • Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are
  • What you want from your career

Think about the likely objections that an interviewer is going to have. If you need help, tell a friend or family member about the role that you’re interviewing for and let them see your CV. Ask them what issues they think an interviewer may have. Step 4 will help you come up with the answers, but more on that in a moment.

2. Listen to the objection

We all have a tendency, when we are on the receiving end of an objection or knock back, to immediately jump in and respond. It’s our fight or flight response.

This is part of the body’s automatic response system. It perceives a threat (the objection) putting our nervous system on alert and releasing stress hormones, which results in our hearts beating faster and our breathing to become more rapid.

It’s important to breath deeply, stay calm and listen. Listen to what the interviewer is saying. Remain calm, whatever is being said.

3. Explore the objection

By listening and not triggering the fight emotion you are likely to be able to hear the objection more objectively. And listening more objectively means that you will respond in a less emotional way.

Listen to the objection and before responding, ask the interviewer for more information. Ask questions, such as:

  • Why do you think that?
  • What have you said or not said that makes them think like that?

Your challenge now is to decide – is it a real issue? If it isn’t explore more the reasoning behind it.

Even if it isn’t real you’re still going to need to respond, so move on to step 4.

4. Answer the objection

This is the key element. Firstly, take the heat out of the objection, acknowledging it.

Tell them you can see or understand where they are coming from and why it may appear that way. This will immediately make the interviewer feel more relaxed.

Now tell them that you’ll do your best to answer the objection. Think of 3 points that you can put across that answers the objection. Be concise and to the point. Use examples to reinforce the 3 points that you’ve thought of.

5. Check the answer

The final part is to ask the interviewer whether you’ve answered the objection. Most interviewees don’t. They tend to think they’ve answered it and move on, when in fact they’d be better asking ‘Have I answered the question/objection you had?’ If not, then go back to point 3 and explore again.

Objections are a test. They test whether you can deal with knock backs. They test/re-confirm what you’ve said. Don’t be afraid of them. Use them to your advantage to put yourself forward as someone who can deal with them effectively.

Next time you have an objection remember the 5 steps:

  • Anticipate
  • Listen
  • Explore
  • Answer
  • Check

My question is, how do you handle objections? I’d love to hear if there’s a particular way you approach them.


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