How to Deal with Objections

Michele Warg
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By no means will every presentation call you make be met with a few simple questions and then an invitation to interview. Sometimes the silence will be broken with an objection. This usually comes in the form of a statement, not a question: "Send me a resume," or "I don't have time to see you," or "You are earning too much," or "You'll have to talk to personnel," or "I don't need anyone like you right now." These seem like brush-off lines, but they can be turned into interviews, and when that isn't possible, they can almost always be parlayed into leads elsewhere.

Notice that all the following suggested response models end with a question, one that helps you learn more about the reason for the objection, perhaps to overcome it and lead the conversation toward a meeting.
In dealing with objections, nothing is gained by confrontation, while much can be gained by an appreciation of the other's viewpoint. Consequently, most objections you hear are best handled by first demonstrating your understanding of the other's viewpoint. Start your responses with phrases like "I understand," or "I can appreciate your position," or "I see your point," or "Of course." Follow up with statements like "However," or ''Also consider," or a similar line that allows the opportunity for rebuttal and to gather further information.

It's not necessary to memorize these responses verbatim, only to understand the underlying concept and then put together responses in words that are natural to your character and style of speech.

Objection: "Why don't you send me a resume?"

The employer may be genuinely interested in seeing your resume as a first step in the interview cycle, or it may be a polite way of getting you off the phone. You should identify the real reason without causing antagonism, and at the same time open up the conversation. A good reply would be, "Of course, Mr. Grant. Would you give me your exact title and your e-mail address? Thank you. So that I can be sure that my qualifications fit your needs, what skills are you looking for in this position?" or "What specific job title and opening should I refer to when I send it?"

Notice the steps:


  • Agreement with the prospective employer
  • A demonstration of understanding
  • A question to further the conversation (in this instance to confirm that an opening actually exists)

Answering in this fashion will open up the conversation. Mr. Grant will relay the aspects of the job that are important to him, and you can use the additional information to move the conversation forward again or to draw attention to relevant skills in:


  • Your executive briefing or cover letter
  • A customized resume
  • Your face-to-face meeting

Following Mr. Grant's response, you can recap the match between his needs and your skills:
"Assuming my resume matches your needs, as I think we are both confident that it will, could we pencil in a date and time for an interview next week? I am available next Thursday and Friday; which would be preferable to you?"
A penciled-in date and time for an interview very rarely gets canceled, because they don't actually get "penciled in"-- in this electronic age, they immediately take up a time slot in the schedule.

Objection: "I don't have time to see you."

If the employer is too busy to see you, it indicates that he or she has work pressures, and by recognizing that, you can show yourself as the one to alleviate some of those pressures through your problem-solving skills. You should avoid confrontation, however; it is important that you demonstrate empathy for the person with whom you are speaking. Agree, empathize, and ask a question that moves the conversation forward:
"I understand how busy you must be; it sounds like a competent, dedicated, and efficient professional [whatever your title is] could be of some assistance. Perhaps I could call you back at a better time to discuss how I might make a contribution in easing the pressure at peak times. When are you least busy, in the morning or afternoon?"

The company representative will either make time to talk now or will arrange a better time for the two of you to talk further.


You could also try, "Since you are so busy, what is the best time of day for you? First thing in the morning, or is the afternoon a quieter time?" Or you could suggest, "If you would like to see my resume you could study my background at your leisure. What's your e-mail address? Thanks, what would be a good time of day to follow up on this?"

Objection: "You are earning too much."

Don't give up immediately; follow the process through: "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that -- what is the range for that position?" Depending on the degree of salary discrepancy, you might reiterate your interest.

If the job really doesn't pay enough -- and there will be openings for which you are earning too much -- you've gotten "close, but no cigar!"

Objection: "We only promote from within."

Your response could be, "[smiling] Your development of employees is a major reason I want to get in! I am bright, conscientious, and motivated. When you do hire from the outside, and it must happen on occasion, what do you look for?" or "How do I get into consideration for such opportunities?"
The response finishes with a question designed to carry the conversation forward and to give you a new opportunity to sell yourself Notice that the response logically presupposes that the company does hire from the outside, as all companies obviously do, despite your being told otherwise.

Objection: "You'll have to talk to Human Resources."

In this case, you reply, "Of course, Mr. Grant. Whom should I speak to in HR, and what specific position should I mention?"


You cover a good deal of ground with that response. You establish whether there is a job there or whether you are being fobbed off on HR to waste their time and your own. Also, you move the conversation forward again while modifying it to your advantage. Develop a specific job-related question to ask while the employer is answering the first question. It can open a fruitful line for you to pursue. If you receive a nonspecific reply, probe a little deeper. A simple phrase like, "That's interesting. Please tell me more," or "Why's that?" will usually do the trick.


Or you can ask, "When I speak to HR, will it be about a specific job you have, or is it to see whether I might fill a position elsewhere in the company?"

Armed with the resulting information, you can talk to HR about your conversation with Mr. Grant. Remember to get the name of a specific person in HR with whom to speak, and quote this prior contact by name in any e-mail or verbal contact.

"Good morning, Ms. Johnson. Cary Grant, over in marketing, suggested we should speak to arrange an interview for the open sales associate requisition. "

This way you show HR that you are not a time waster, because you have already spoken to the person for whom the requisition is open.
Don't look at the HR department as a roadblock. It may contain a host of opportunities for you. In many companies different departments could use your talents, and HR is probably the only department that knows all the openings. With larger companies you might be able to arrange interviews for two or three different positions!

Objection: "I really wanted someone with a degree."

You should have learned the proper response to "Do you have a degree?" But in case you were abducted by aliens a few pages ago, you could respond by saying, "Mr. Smith, I appreciate your viewpoint. It was necessary that I start earning a living early in life. If we meet, I am certain you would recognize the value of my additional practical experience." If you have been smart enough to enroll in a course or two in order to pursue that always-important degree, you should add, "I am currently enrolled in courses to complete my degree, which should demonstrate my professional commitment, and perhaps that makes a difference?" In a world of ongoing education it usually will.

You might then ask what the company policy is for support and encouragement of employees continuing their education. Your response will end with, "If we were to meet, I am certain you would recognize the value of my practical experience, in addition to my ongoing professional commitment. I am going to be interviewing at the end of next week, and I know you will find the time to meet well spent. Is there a day and time that would be best for you?"

Objection: "I don't need anyone like you now."

Short of suggesting that the employer fire someone to make room for you (which, believe it or not, has been done successfully on a few occasions), the chances of getting an interview with this company are slim. With the right questions, however, your contact will give you a personal introduction to someone else who could use your talents.


Author Bio
Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide 2012, is one of the foremost experts in the world of job search and career management. The author of Knock 'em Dead Resumes, Knock 'em Dead Cover Letters, Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, and numerous other books, he has helped millions of people turn their careers and their lives around. For more job-hunting resources and advice, visit


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