Hidden objections – the real reason you didn’t get that job

A friend asked me recently about an obstacle they were coming up against in their search for a new role,...

Andy Bristow
Andy Bristow
4 min read Reading Time
3 March 2018 Date Created

A friend asked me recently about an obstacle they were coming up against in their search for a new role, the same thing was cropping up time and again and they were at a loss as how to handle it as it wasn’t something they could particularly do anything about – their location.  When I started out in IT recruitment back in 2002 it was common for people to commute around the region for work, thinking little of the travel between Ipswich, Colchester, Cambridge and Norwich (by road or rail)

However, from around 2007 as salary growth slowed whilst travel costs increased and the roads seemed to be getting busier many in the IT sector realised they could simply find something closer to home.   7 years on and it is unusual to find IT specialists commuting any real distance other than the route into Liverpool Street and if they do 45 minutes travel time seems to be the typical threshold.

You may conclude that the only person who should determine what you are and aren’t prepared to do travel wise is you.  Maybe so, but the reality is different.  It’s different because when someone tells you directly, or simply implies that your location could be an issue there are a lot of things going on under the bonnet and in the recruitment industry this is known as a hidden objection.  As the name suggests, hidden objections are problems that you need to overcome made more challenging by the fact that they aren’t communicated clearly and it’s up to you to identify and deal with them.

If an interviewer is asking about your location/travel time to work there are most likely 2 possible things going through their mind 1) Will you get fed up of the commute and jump ship as soon as something closer to home crops up 2) Will this person be available to me when the business needs them?   Your interviewer may or may not be upfront about these thoughts but if you sense that this could be an issue you need to deal with it, and if you are unsure, ask them outright.

So what is the best way to deal with it? This comes down to personal preference and style but you need to understand where they are coming from and their concerns and acknowledge them before dealing with them.  For example the first objection is borne of insecurity– is this job/company good enough to motivate you to travel? Can we pay enough that it’s worth your while? In this instance I would reassure the potential employer of their specific attractive qualities, why you applied for the role and why this would be your preference over similar opportunities that might have a shorter travel time.  Discuss your longer term ambitions and how the increased chance of realising them with this business more than cancels out any extra time you may be travelling and you view that time spent travelling as part of an investment in yourself.  On the second point, I would ask about past experience of people travelling, do they have successful, long serving employees who commute for a similar distance or are you an outlier? Is there a lot of overtime in the role? This may be a good opportunity to discover some more information about the role and if it’s really for you.

Interviews are a minefield of potential objections, hidden or otherwise, often the main differentiator between the person selected and the others is who has dealt with those objections the most thoroughly.  It pays to have a think before your next interview about what objections could crop up and how you would deal with them,  and always be perceptive to what is remaining unsaid.