Interview tips for veterans. So, you’ve found a company you would love to work at, your resume was on point, and they want to bring you in for an interview. Getting nervous? Your last interview may have been at MEPS when you joined the military, and it included a duck walk. This one won’t (probably). Here are some tips to nail the interview and secure that job.
This doesn’t necessarily mean wear a suit. This is one of the areas where researching the company will help. From my experience, and from research I’ve done on interviewing, the rule to follow here is one step above what is worn daily in the office. If the company wears jeans and t-shirts, it would look a bit odd if you show up in a full suit. Slacks and a button down would be appropriate in this scenario. If you are going to interview for a manufacturing or skilled trade position, I would suggest the same attire. This will show your professionalism, but you won’t show up looking like you’re about to try to sell them a copier. *quote* Now, for the majority of roles a suit (with a tie or without) is going to be your best bet. Remember, your first impression is important. Make sure the suit fits and you aren’t wearing anything wild with shirt or tie color (it’s a job interview, not your high school prom).
Do not use military jargon or acronyms
Just like your resume, you want to avoid jargon and acronyms at all costs. The person doing your interview is not going to know what you are talking about, and you don’t want them to be confused. Understand the appropriate civilian terms for the different roles you have had as well as how your rank translates to the civilian sector. Sometimes, you might get lucky and be interviewed by a veteran that knows what you’re talking about. That’s great, but make sure the interview doesn’t get derailed by war stories and that you’re still conveying what you bring to the company. It should go without saying, but don’t use profanity.
Highlight why you are the best fit for the role
Sometimes, bragging about yourself is hard to do. It’s somewhat uncomfortable to list your accomplishments and talk about how awesome you are. Well, the interview room is the place where this is most appropriate. Talk about scenarios that you encountered in the military that apply to the role you are interviewing for. *quote* Having a hard time coming up with good examples? Reach out to mentors you had in the military to talk through some examples from your career that can be easily transferrable to success in the civilian sector.
Emphasize your commitment and loyalty
Almost everyone knows that a good amount of success in the military is showing up at the right time, in the right place, in the right uniform. Employers love that mentality. Express to them how the military gave you the commitment to the job at hand, and the loyalty to do everything you can to make sure the person on the left and right are successful. Some employers only knowledge about the military is what they saw on NCIS. Highlighting how the military prepared you to be a great employee in their organization is going to impress them, and make them more likely to want to hire you.
Just like you did mock boards to prepare for promotions, you need to do practice interviews. There are organizations out there ready to help you practice interviews, like Candorful or Operation Job Ready Vets. Utilize every resource you have. This could be the interview that secures your next position for the next 10-20 years, you want to be as ready as possible, leaving nothing to chance.
Lastly, be confident! The employer already has seen something they like in you from your resume, so understand your value and walk in there ready to own that interview. You’re almost to the finish line, it’s just time to finish the race. We wish you the best of luck in your upcoming interviews and know you’re going to crush it!