It’s never a good idea to take a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to a job interview, but for those transitioning from military to civilian careers, it’s even more important to be prepared. Here are some simple ways to ensure that you nail your next civilian job interview.
Do Your Homework
Just as you’d prepare for your next military assignment, you should prepare for every job interview. This means thoroughly researching the company or organization before the big day.
“Know who they are and what their products and services are,” says Laura DeCarlo, president of Career Directors International and author of Interviewing: The Gold Standard. Review the company or organization’s website and conduct an Internet search to find out what other people are saying about them.
Be On Time
There’s a saying that if you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time, and if you’re on time, you’re already late. In the military, punctuality shows respect, and it’s the same in the civilian workforce.
Act The Part
While you may be used to standing at attention and saluting when a superior enters the room, being too formal in a civilian setting can be off-putting to some people who aren’t used to it. It’s a good idea to play it a little cooler in an interview. Though you certainly want to look polished and professional, wearing a suit isn’t always the right answer. DeCarlo suggests driving by the building where you’ll be interviewing to see how employees dress on a typical work day.
You may have led thousands of soldiers on a mission or been responsible for multi-million dollar budgets in the military, but if you can’t communicate that clearly in a job interview, it won’t matter. Many potential employers in the civilian world won’t be able to connect the dots between your experience and their needs if you don’t spell it out for them.
Ask Good Questions
In addition to being ready to answer questions during an interview, it’s just as important to prepare questions of your own. While you may have some general questions about the department’s upcoming goals or how various divisions collaborate, this is an ideal time to make sure you provided all the information your interviewer needs.
Remember To Say Thank You
Chances are your interviewer will meet with several candidates for your target job. By sending a personalized thank-you letter, you stand out from the crowd. “Use the letter as more than a thank you—use it to reiterate your strengths,” encourages DeCarlo. “This gives you a major edge.”
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