Job interview mistakes

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One-third of applicants aren’t fit for the jobs they’re seeking

Turns out a lot of people are overly confident in applying for jobs they just aren’t qualified for. This turns into one bad job interview after the next.

With generic resumes and cover letters, and potential employees heading into interviews blind, it’s no wonder that CFOs say more than half of applicants haven’t prepared for the job they’re applying for, according to a survey from staffing firm Accountemps.

A full third of candidates don’t customize their application materials to the job they are applying for, and 24 percent of applicants include spelling and grammar mistakes. It’s like they don’t even want to get hired.

“Employers are looking for job candidates who provide the ‘wow factor’ and can immediately demonstrate the value they bring,” says Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. “Sending a generic resume or showing up for the interview unprepared tells the hiring manager that the applicant has little interest in being hired.”

If you aren’t prepared for the job, the company, or even the interview, how are hiring managers supposed to take you seriously?

If you do get lucky enough to get to the interview, CFOs will know when you’re not prepared. Twenty-seven percent of candidates have little or no knowledge of the company, while 22 percent aren’t prepared to talk about skills or experience.

CFOs can tell when you’re avoiding the questions they desperately want the answers to. In application materials, 21 percent of candidates focus on the job duties they believe they’re qualified for, rather than the accomplishments from their career. Another 21 percent also focus on information that has nothing to do with the job at hand.

unqualified candidates

How to prepare for a new job

Accountemps say that you’re making more job mistakes than you think, but we’re here to help. Watch out for…

1. Adding irrelevant information to application materials — Remember that experience speaks for itself! Showcase how much your work has paid off in your positions over the years. Talk about your accomplishments and stay away from reiterating job duties they already know about.

2. Skipping proofreading — Read. Read again. Read a third time, and if you aren’t sure, ask a friend to read it over twice. Even one or two typos can mean your resume or cover letter gets tossed out, even if you are the most qualified candidate.

3. Failing to prepare — No two jobs are exactly the same, so why wouldn’t you prepare for them differently? Find out about the company: who started it, who runs it, their mission statement, and other facts. It’ll help in the interview to show that you know who you’re talking to, and then you can connect the company’s needs to your stellar accomplishments.

4. Lying — Whether it’s now or another time in the future, managers will always catch you in a lie. Be honest and stay away from fabricating your experience.

5. Your online presence — Go through your social media channels and remove any posts that could be perceived as inappropriate. Take an audit of what you’ve got, check your privacy settings, and think, “would I want my mother to see this?” when looking over posts. If the answer is “no,” it’s not fit for a hiring manager to see, either.

6. Being blindsided by salary talk — Money will probably come up — don’t you want it to? You need to be prepared. Learn about competitive rates for your job in your field and what skills that you have that make you stand out. Learn to negotiate.

7. Sticking to technology — The internet is not the only place to find work! Go to mixers, networking events, industry get-togethers, and other places where you can connect with people in your line of work. A lot of hires come from someone who knows someone.

8. You are not alone — If you’re having trouble finding a job that fits you, reach out to hiring firms or staffing agencies to help you get on the right track.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Career and Business

get hired, infographic, job interview

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