Ed Hunter: Objection Handling

Recruitment’s an exercise in futility at the best of times. You’re likely to hear an objection almost by the hour.

“You shouldn’t be calling this number!”

“I don’t think you should date clients!”

“Being in this office breaks the terms of your restraining order!”

Yadda yadda yadda…

You hear so many objections you become immune to their power. You become acclimatised. Institutionalised.

So it’s always lovely to hear an objection that’s off the beaten track. One outside the playbook. A rarity. A shiny Merlin sticker from the world of excuses.

‘Cause as the old adage goes…

“In the business of rebuffing rebuttals, you need some razzle in your dazzle.” 

Know who said that?

I did.


So I could seamlessly link to this week’s article.

Which is…

Ed Hunter’s Objection Handling Guide; for Recruiters

Having this article saved in Bookmarks might just guide your meagre, everyday existence on the path to success.

It might even be as useful as your other self help books “Why Can’t I Stop Crying?” and “Incontinence & Me: Trial by Combat”

Step aside the Upside Down Recruitment Funnel. There’s a new piece of advice in town.

And this time… it’s personal.

(Disclaimer: Nothing from Ed Hunter is ever personal, it’s just a phrase I’ve always wanted to use)

1) “My Uncle died so I won’t be able to make the interview”

If there’s such a thing as an iron clad excuse, it’s this one.

Sure, faking family deaths for an alibi is pretty low.

But you know what’s lower? Calling someone out on it. You can’t say “I don’t believe you” to someone who MIGHT be grieving. It’s just not cricket.

What you can do is this…

Wait until the twilight hours and break into their house, quietly tip-toeing upstairs. When you’re half way up, change the name on your burner phone to ‘Death’. Then WhatsApp them saying ‘WAKE UP’.

As they stir, all dazed and confused, stand over them. Put a bed sheet over your head and moan “Gooooo tooo the interviiieeeew”

If their uncle has snuffed it, they’ll now be keen.

If he hasn’t died, say you’re from the future and he might, should they not attend.

Win. Win.

2) “My Car’s Broken Down”

An old classic this. And you might give up.

But not so fast.

Most recruiters ‘shop’ for new cars on the regular. You place a biggie and have a browse on Autotrader.

Then you realise the minuscule amount you’re actually paid. After tax, student loans, child support and bribery payments.

But it doesn’t stop you looking.

So take your search to the material world, and car breakdown excuses will be a thing of the past.

Strut into any car showroom with your fresh Lewin’s shirt, brown Oxfords and classic Raybans.

Hair on point? Mmm Nice!

Now watch, as scantily-clad Salesmen start straddling windscreens for your attention. Sexily gesticulating in a mile square radius. For the test drive, pick the most junior or anyone called Nigel and head for the client.

Pick up the candidate en route and watch that objection evaporate. And remember… breath mints and bottled water, whilst inexpensive, prove priceless in the centre console.

NB: If they don’t get a second interview, drop them home with a x1.7 surcharge. 

 3) “They’re overqualified”

I understand sometimes the candidate’s too senior. But most of the time, this cute little catchphrase is a cop out. Meaningless drivel, spoon fed to you, so you GO… AWAY…

If you ever get this objection, balance the odds in your favour. You’ll know it’s coming before they say it. Which gives you time to plan.

Now, if your candidate’s willing to cut off an ear, the interviewer’s gaze won’t reach the second page of their CV.

But if their courage dwindles, give them 3inch thick glasses to wear, making their perfect vision, 100% defunct. Both work but may take some convincing.

If they lack conviction, see whether a temporary ailment of Tourette’s does the trick.

Then they can be themselves without fear of recompense.

“Yes I’m f***ing Senior, you pr*ck, but I’m f***ing hungry to get back into work. Got it?”

“I like his gusto Ed. He’s hired.”

4) “They’re too expensive”

Money affects us all. And not having enough forces tough choices.

It happened to me earlier this year. I was in the park and my little nephew saw an Ice Cream van. Now, when he was younger I told him “When they play their whimsical music, unfortunately… it means they’ve run out.”

And this worked. For about three years.

Until my sister asked why he kept crying. Then I had to fess up and deal with accusations of emotional torture.

Anyway, this particular day I’d just bought myself a 99 and faced a choice. Get a flake, or fork out for my nephew’s ice cream too. As he’d conveniently left his wallet at home. Again.

That or break a fifty. Which, let’s be honest, just isn’t happening.

Obviously I couldn’t bear to see his sad, teary, little face and did the right thing.

Bought a flake and legged it.

He’ll forgive me when I buy him a dog for Christmas. Assuming he got home.

Hard to argue when money’s involved though. And your clients are just the same. So remind them about value whenever possible.

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” Know who wrote that?


Nobody does.

But tag your client in one inspirational meme an hour until they get the message.

If they don’t, just keep tagging and watch the rage build. Of course you do stop eventually. But only for a fee. And now… they owe you.

“Look, take on the candidate at 30% and I’ll see what I can do about that fixed price penalty charge. You’re welcome.”

5) “You’re not on the PSL”

This one’s a toughie.

It shuts down any chat. Any mis-guided attempt at rapport is quelled by simply whispering it.

It’s a Recruiter’s kryptonite.

You can put years into client relationships. Be Godparent to their first born. Walk their dogs at lunch. Go on family rambling trips to the Cotswolds. It goes up in smoke when a new HR Manager joins… with a grudge to bear.

“You’re not on our PSL” they snap smugly. As if they invented the very premise.

For a decent response to this, you need to think laterally. You’re not going to get on that PSL without a space opening up. So that’s where you start.

Search LinkedIn for the biggest stereotype you can find from Company A on the PSL.

Then call up from Love Island with exciting news about their entrance to the show.

Chances are, if you’ve picked a good stereotype, they definitely entered. Now watch how willing they are to pack their bags and piss off to the sun, on a stranger’s behest.

All you have to do is get an Uber (pool) to the airport and watch them fly into the sunset, while you swoop in for Tier 1 status.

All for the price of a one-way flight to Mallorca and a 3am mocktail in Wetherspoons.


More self-help material here.

Keep fighting the good fight.