Survey: 64% of applicants are better on paper than in person

You can have the best credentials in the world, but when you show up to the interview, you’d better deliver.

New research from global staffing firm Robert Half shows that 64% of senior managers report that “it’s common for” a job candidate with a great resume to not deliver at the interview.

An independent research firm surveyed more than 300 American senior managers working for companies with a minimum of 20 employees.

How the interview process works for senior managers

The research found that the most popular reason companies give interviews is to confirm “relevant experience” (61%), and not having the right “technical abilities” is the most popular reason “new hires don’t work out” (51%).

Senior managers spend an average of 12 minutes on each resume — 35 and younger spend 18 minutes, ages 35-54 spend 13, and those 55 and older spend eight. They also interview an average of seven candidates for each job and get 40 applications per job posting.

Brett Good, senior district president at Robert Half, talked to Ladders about the research.

“This tells us that hiring managers are looking for the right fit by taking the time to review resumes,” Good said. “Resume red flags managers should look out for include vagueness in job descriptions, gaps or missing dates, inconsistencies and added adjectives. It’s also important for managers to do reference checks following the interview to get a clearer idea of a candidate’s work history.

“Because managers are taking the time to review resumes, this presents an opportunity for job seekers to impress managers through their job application materials,” Good told Ladders.

“Detail significant contributions you’ve made at your current and previous job and how they’ve positively impacted the department or company’s bottom line. Make sure to keep it concise and proofread carefully,” Good added.

But the ball is in the candidates’ court.

Here are three ways to help beat the interview odds:

1. Show — don’t tell — that you’re the perfect fit

Alison Doyle, a career expert, author and founder and CEO of, writes in The Balance that you should “show what you know” during job interviews.

“Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your career accomplishments, match them to what the company is looking for. Use examples from your research when answering questions, ‘I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.’ Take the time to make a match between your expertise and the company’s requirements, and to sell yourself to the interviewer,” she writes.

2. Don’t try to be perfect — do this instead

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, author of Great People Decisions and a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder International, told the Harvard Business Review about how to do this in an interview.

“No candidate will ever be perfect, and you will be no exception. … If your past achievements are not directly related to the job, but you’ve demonstrated a great ability to learn and adapt to new situations, you should very clearly articulate that,” he said.

3. Don’t show your true colors at the finish line

You’ve made it so far!

But once you leave the interview, you’re going to want to maintain the same level of professionalism. After all, your offer may depend on it.

So don’t do things like sending a thank you email without proofreading it first, fail to send one at all, or attempt to “friend” your recruiter on Facebook — if you still have an account, that is.

And one last thing: Don’t lash out if you don’t get the job.