How Do I Overcome Being Rejected As Being ‘Too Senior’ For A Role?

by Crant, John Thursday, June 03, 2010
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Q: How do I overcome being rejected as being ‘too senior’ for a role? - signed, A Wealth of Experience

The most interesting part for me, is that the HR person emailed you almost exactly what I talk about in my lecture series. Here’s a portion of the rejection for the audience of readers:

“...you are a little too high level for this position and it probably wouldn’t keep you interested for very long.

“The worry is that you would take something else within two years –whereas a more junior individual would see this as a great stepping stone to get to the next level over that same period of time.”

Of course, this response is generated by hiring managers most common fear:

Are you a ‘good hire’? (or not!)

A Good Hire:

Someone that will come into the role excited, with energy and passion, and stay in that role for about two years continuing to grow. At about the two year mark, a ‘good hire’ will then be ready to be promoted up to the next level position where they will continue to be excited and growing at the new level. If the company can keep you for a total of between 4–7 years, that’s a good hire!

It’s more about expenses and employment costs associated with turnover, so their concerns are real.

You need to convince them that:

(1.) It is really about THIS position (your desired role);
(2.) You will stay with them longer term; and
(3.) You have the energy, enthusiasm and passion that will make your contribution significant.


So, the first question for you:

Is this truly the right position for you?

If so, that’s a position that you desire, are willing to take, and one where you will be happy staying and contributing in this role for a while (–more than 2 years).

If you answered ‘no’ to the question...then this is a very difficult objection to overcome, since the concern may have a real foundation.

But, if you answered ‘yes’ to the question, then their response is just another objection like any other ––and that’s just an opportunity for us to convince them again that we are the right match. This also means convincing them that, in fact, this is what you really want, and are excited about, doing.

In that case, I might respond back this way in writing, and then call them today to leave a voicemail (or have a live conversation) where they can hear and judge the passion of your response firsthand.

The voicemail (or live conversation) is a very important selling tool that can help us to overcome objections like these. The goal is to help relieve their fear that you ‘wouldn’t be a good hire’ because you wouldn’t really be happy in this role.

I might say:

“Frankly, I’m not surprised by this question about the fit, as I do bring a wealth of experience that can be leveraged in this role for your company’s benefit.

This is, in fact, exactly the level of contribution and the type of role that I am most interested in and excited about. –Over the next two years, if that leads to new opportunities for me within the company –that’s terrific, but I would also be very content and thrilled to continue to contribute in this role for the team.

I have openings on my schedule Monday and Tuesday – what is the best time to meet and discuss my potential contribution to the team?

I’m very confident that I can allay any fears about answering the needs and staying in the role longer term.”

If a company or manager has ‘made up their minds’ on any objection that we encounter, it will be very difficult to counter that objection, but many in the hiring process throw these objections at us as a ‘test’ to see how we respond.

You have to be in the game, to win the game.

So, my advice is to (almost) never take ‘no’ as the final answer – just as another opportunity to persuade them that we are, in fact, the very best choice for the role.

Copyright © 2010 by John Crant