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HIRING MANAGER TO APPLICANT: ‘WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS?’

Accountemps Survey Finds Job Seekers Make Most Mistakes During Interview

MENLO PARK, CA, Sept. 23, 2010 -- The employment interview is a time to shine, but it's also when nerves can get the best of job seekers, a new Accountemps survey suggests. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled said candidates are more likely to slip up during the interview than at any other time in the application process. Another 28 percent of executives felt job applicants make the most mistakes when writing their resumes.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, "In which of the following job application areas do you feel candidates make the most mistakes?" Their responses:

Interview 32%
Resume 28%
Reference checks 10%
Interview follow-up 9%
Cover letter 8%
Screening call 7%
Other 1%
None 2%
Don't know / no answer     3%
100%

"Employers expect job applicants will have a few pre-interview jitters," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting for Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "The secret is to use this energy to project enthusiasm for the position rather than letting your nerves undermine your confidence."

Messmer pointed out that preparation is the best way for job seekers to ensure they make a good impression on the hiring manager. "One of the most common mistakes applicants make during the interview process is failing to demonstrate knowledge of the company and the position, two simple things to research in advance," he said.  

Accountemps offers five tips to help you recover if you do make a mistake during a job interview:

  1. Let it go. By dwelling on it, you draw more attention to your mistake. Instead, focus on putting your best foot forward during the remainder of the meeting.  
  2. Pause. Collect yourself and remember that everyone makes mistakes. Your ability to recover may just impress the employer.
  3. Listen. The types of questions the interviewer asks can give you insight into what he or she is looking for in the ideal candidate. Pay attention to these clues so that you can demonstrate that you are that person.
  4. Don't jump to conclusions. You may think a mistake just cost you the job, but the hiring manager may not feel the same way. You are likely the harshest critic of your own performance.
  5. Follow up. Send a thank-you note to the hiring manager after the interview. Aside from being a nice gesture, it's another opportunity to clarify your responses and make your case to be hired.
     

Accountemps has more than 350 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com. Follow Accountemps for workplace news at twitter.com/accountemps.


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