Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Friday, June 27, 2014
I echo Michele in expressing a heartfelt thank-you for your dedicated service to our country! Please know how much it is appreciated.
I think all of her advice is correct, and the best interviews I have ever conducted were with candidates who took the time to thoroughly reflect on the role, the company, and their own level of experience. So definitely carve out some time to dig into this, and practice talking the details over with maybe a friend, or family member. It’s key that you are able to articulate how your skills line up to the needs of the Hiring Team, and that you appear comfortable, genuine, and enthusiastic during next week’s conversation.
Exploring the company’s website is a great way to start, and I would maybe print out their info directly, and then take generous notes. You can also ask your recruiter or Hiring Manager if they recommend any reading material about the organization before the interview. It’s possible that they will be prepared to provide company fact sheets, links to certain parts of their website, relevant industry publications, etc.
Also, examine the job description closely. Try to brainstorm examples from your training or military career that directly tie back to the qualifications and overall needs of the position. For example, if the description cites that they want someone who can be agile and dependable during significant business changes, be prepared to discuss times when you had to lead a team with both flexibility and loyalty, or change your course of action at a moment’s notice under pressure, or maybe create (or adapt to) new orders when critically-important situations arose.
I think a huge part of being successful in any interview is knowing how to describe what you’ve seen and what you’ve done in a way that makes sense to the interviewer. As much as possible, endeavor to explain your military experience in civilian terms, and highlight any transferable skills. I’ve seen many candidates who are former-military with subject matter expertise and soft skills that potential employers absolutely admire, including a real sense of dedication, determination, and discipline.
A few other points which might help:
1) Definitely bring copies of your resume with you, perhaps in a padfolio.
2) Bring a short list of questions for the interviewer. You can search online for topics like, “Best questions to ask in an interview,” and find lots of examples which may relate to this role. Pick out the best ones for you to use.
3) Over-dress for the interview a little bit, instead of taking the risk that you could be dressed too casually. It’s always better to go a bit farther than the Hiring Team expects, and really showcase how serious you are about their opportunity.
4) Be prepared to talk about your shortcomings, and also your ambitions. If there are things you want to learn more about, or build more experience in, don’t be afraid to discuss this during the interview. Part of what happens in an interview is that they are assessing where you stand right now, and what you bring to the table immediately. But the other part is that they are trying to figure out if you may be a teachable fit, i.e. a good investment for the future. You want to be seen as capable right now, and also a confident choice for the long-term.
5) Arrive at the interview early, but not too early, and know who to ask for. Usually 10 minutes is standard. If you arrive earlier than that, wait in your vehicle instead of showing up well before they expect you. I’d also recommend a practice run to the interview site, so you understand exactly how to get there, where to park, and what door to go into.
6) Smile during the interview, and make good eye contact. Try not to appear stiff or uneasy. If you need to, take a second to think about your answers before replying. Overall, show them that you want to be there, and that you can do the job well..
Hope this helps!