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Survey: Job Interview Trips Up More Candidates Than Any Other Step in Hiring Process

MENLO PARK, Calif., April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Navigating the job application process can be tricky, and no area has more opportunities to go off track than the interview, according to a new Accountemps survey. Forty-three percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled said the job interview is where candidates make the most mistakes, up 11 percentage points from a similar Accountemps survey conducted in 2010. Another 19 percent of executives felt applicants most frequently slip up when writing their resumes.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 2,100 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metro areas.

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





Interview follow-up


Cover letter


Phone interview/screen


Reference check


Don't know




View an infographic featuring the full research findings.

"Hiring mistakes are costly to businesses, and employers are increasingly wary of choosing someone who is a poor fit for a job," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies® (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "The job interview can provide the best insight into whether someone is a good match."

Messmer points out that because employers place great stock in the job interview, applicants should go to great lengths to prepare, including being ready for a variety of interview scenarios that may go beyond the traditional format.

Here are five increasingly common job interview scenarios, along with tips for handling them:

  1. Behavioral interviews. When asking behavioral-based questions ("Can you tell me about a time when you increased productivity at your last job?"), employers are looking for insight into your past work experiences that could relate to the open position. Be prepared to offer compelling anecdotes that illustrate how you delivered positive results or solved problems.
  2. Video interviews. Skype and other video chat services make it easy and cost effective for employers to meet with job candidates regardless of location. Conduct a tech check before the virtual meeting, dress as you would for an in-person job interview, make sure the background is free of clutter, and remember to look at your computer's camera -- not the screen.
  3. Multiple interviews. Employers may ask a candidate to go through multiple job interviews because they want every assurance they're making the best, most informed decision. View follow-up interviews as an opportunity to elaborate on your most pertinent skills and highlight your in-depth knowledge of the company.
  4. Panel interviews. Companies conduct panel interviews because it's an efficient way to get candidates through several job interviews in a timely fashion. These meetings can be intimidating; help yourself by making a connection with each interviewer. Make eye contact with everyone, use peoples' names when answering their questions, and request business cards so you can send each interviewer a customized thank-you note.
  5. Group interviews. While less common, some employers conduct group interviews with multiple candidates simultaneously to observe their interpersonal skills. Assert yourself respectfully by making sure your voice is heard, but never by interrupting others. Even though you're competing for a job, treat your fellow interviewees in a professional, diplomatic manner.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has 345 offices worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at

SOURCE Accountemps

For further information: Abby Welch, (650) 234-6289,