First impressions are vital when you’re looking for a new job in finance or accounting. So don’t be memorable for all the wrong reasons. In an OfficeTeam survey, over 600 senior managers recounted the most embarrassing mistakes they’ve heard about or witnessed during job interviews. Some examples are honest blunders, but others make you wonder “What were they thinking?” Either way, these job search mistakes cost the candidates the position.
Read on for some of the more amusing and cringe-worthy mistakes job seekers make. They’re followed by interview tips to help you avoid becoming a hiring manager’s anecdote.
Prevent appearance blunders.
Most job candidates know the basics when it comes to dressing for success. They wear conservative attire and take extra care with personal hygiene. But occasionally, they needed one last look in the mirror before leaving home or walking into the interview.
- “An applicant showed up in sweatpants.”
- “The person was wearing mismatched shoes.”
- “One candidate didn’t realize his zipper was down.”
- “One job seeker had lettuce in his teeth when he arrived.”
Watch what you say.
Some applicants may look great on paper and in person. But when they open their mouths, it’s a different story.
- “When a woman was asked to tell the interviewer a little about herself, she didn’t have anything to say.”
- “The candidate called the interviewer by the wrong name.”
- “Someone started swearing during the interview.”
- “One job applicant was caught lying on her resume during the meeting.”
Actions speak even louder.
The way you behave during an interview is just as important as what you say. Unfortunately, these applicants didn’t wow their hiring managers with their moves.
- “The applicant did a song-and-dance routine in hopes of getting the job.”
- “Someone brought his pet dog.”
- “A candidate fell asleep.”
- “The person was checking his cellphone and chewing gum during the interview.”
Accidents and faux pas do happen, but many of the most egregious mistakes candidates make are avoidable with some preparation and forethought. Here are some interview tips to make sure you leave a great impression.
1. Do your research. Learn everything you can about the company and the position before the interview so you’re ready to answer questions intelligently.
2. Practice. Ask a friend to help you with a mock interview.
3. Dress appropriately. Of course you should be wearing the proper interview attire. In addition, right before the interview, do a final once-over to make sure you won’t experience wardrobe malfunctions, and your teeth don’t carry evidence of your last meal.
4. Get there early. Research the directions in advance, and build in time for traffic jams or public transportation delays. But don’t walk in too far in advance. If you reach your destination more than five to ten minutes ahead of schedule, walk around the block to calm down and kill time.
5. Don’t lie or exaggerate. Your interviewers will probably find out. And even if the truth doesn’t emerge right away, it will come out eventually.
6. Watch your tone and body language. No matter how comfortable you feel, avoid slipping into informal language and bad posture. And never look at your phone during a job interview.
7. Be diplomatic. Don’t speak negatively about current or former employers. Nobody wants to hire someone who bad-mouths their coworkers.
8. Recover quickly from mistakes. Don’t dwell on that awkward moment when you spilled your coffee or bumbled a response. Regroup and move forward. Besides, knowing how to recover from a mistake can show interviewers your ability to think on your feet and make the best of a not-so-good situation.
9. End on a high note. At the end of the interview, it’s time to pose a few questions of your own, so be ready. Managers like candidates who are well informed and eager to know more. Also prepare a brief closing statement to underscore your enthusiasm for the job. This will be their last impression of you.
10. Show your appreciation. Thank the interviewers right after the interview. Then, within a few days, follow up with a note that reemphasizes your interest in the position and summarizes how you’re a good fit.
Meeting with potential employers is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the job search. While there are many unknowns, these simple, but important tips can improve your chances of landing that dream accounting or finance position.
This article is provided courtesy of Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources. Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm placing accounting and finance professionals on a temporary, full-time and project basis. For career and management advice, follow our blog at blog.roberthalf.com.