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Career Counselor
Job Interviews: Leave Goofy at the Door

September 2008 Most accounting and finance professionals know that the best way to stand out in an employment interview is to prepare, project enthusiasm and provide thoughtful answers. Gaining positive attention is one thing, but some interviewees attract attention for all the wrong reasons.

Accountemps recently asked 150 senior executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies about the most unusual pitches they've received from job seekers:

  • "One person brought his mother to the job interview and let her do all of the talking."
  • "One candidate said that we should hire him because he would be a great addition to our softball team."
  • "An individual told me he was allergic to unemployment."
  • "One job seeker said he should get the job because he had already applied three times and felt that it was now his turn."
  • "One candidate sang all of her responses to interview questions."

Instead of relying on goofy gimmicks, keep the following tips in mind when meeting with prospective employers:

Study up. Research the firm's website, annual report and marketing materials, and then highlight how your unique skills and experience could contribute to the organization's success. When answering questions, strive to weave in information that shows hiring managers you've done your homework and understand the organization's history, priorities, competitors and core business objectives.

Dress to impress. For better or worse, first impressions are largely based on appearances. Play it safe (and smart) by wearing business-appropriate attire. Even if you know that the office has a casual environment, err on the side of caution and dress a step above what you think is expected.

Keep your focus. Be succinct. For instance, when an employer says, "Tell me a little about yourself," respond with a concise 30-second sound bite describing your professional background and strongest skills. Interviewees sometimes hurt their cause by over-answering questions and meandering off track. And even though periods of silence can be uncomfortable, resist rambling while a hiring manger is formulating his or her next query.

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ACCOUNTEMPS is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. For more information about Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, visit

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