Interviewing for Success
Your military experience has equipped you with highly sought-after characteristics that employers seek: discipline, integrity, managerial skills and the ability to work under pressure. It’s your job to make sure a prospective employer understands how you will apply those traits and experience to the position you are seeking. Here are some tips to help you plan for an interview and sell yourself to a potential employer:
Once you’ve landed an interview, it’s time to prepare so you can give your best first impression and get a job offer. Being well-prepared will give you confidence and let prospective employers know that you are the right “fit” for the position. Just before your interview, review your resume or application and the ad or listing for the position. If you have time, you may want to request a copy of the formal job description to give you a better understanding of the job. In addition, you should review the organization’s website, including their mission statement. Prepare a list of questions you may want to ask during the interview.
KNOW THE ORGANIZATION
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for your interview is to understand the organization and what they are seeking in a potential employee. Pay particular attention to the organization’s mission and values and the position’s core competencies.
LOOK YOUR BEST
You will never get a second chance to make a good first impression! Dress to impress, but not in military attire. Select clothing that is appropriate for a professional office environment, e.g., a conservative suit.
HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS
Highlight your military skills and experience. While it’s important not to provide too much detail, describing your specific certifications, training and specialized experience will give you an edge over other applicants. Describe situations in the military in which you achieved your end goal. Narrate one or two brief examples of how you put your skills into practice and how this kind of quick thinking will translate into your civilian job.
Demonstrate that you’re truly interested in the job you applied for and in the organization. Speak clearly and smile. Emphasize your dedication to the military and the time you spent serving your country.
TRANSLATE MILITARY LANGUAGE AND AVOID JARGON
Avoid using ranks, acronyms and other military jargon. Practice translating military language into civilian terms before the interview. Using their military occupational classification (MOC), veterans can identify civilian jobs that are similar to the jobs they did in the military. For example, if a military officer was a budget analyst or cost analyst in the service, he or she can use the MOC to translate those skills to those of a financial analyst in the civilian workforce. Also, be sure to match your military experience with the specific experience and skills the job requires. Discuss these thoroughly.
BE YOURSELF AND BE HONEST
Don’t put on an act for the interviewer. Being yourself may help you relax during the interview and eliminate unnecessary stress.