Remember standing in formation with freshly clipped hair and a just-issued uniform; and you were next in line to be scrutinized by a screaming drill instructor whose number one goal was to make you flinch? For transitioning vets, sometimes a job interview can feel the same way.
Start with the good news: Scoring an interview means you’re among a select few candidates seriously being considered for the position. Having made it through an initial applicant screening, consider a first interview less like a first date with someone you met at a bar, and more like a first date with someone you met on eHarmony. Ideally you already meet the basic requirements, so this is a chance for both you, and the employer, to see if you’re ready to move the relationship forward.
First impressions are still key, so follow these tips:
Be positive. Counter any stereotypes of veterans being aggressive and difficult to manage by staying upbeat, even if the questioning gets difficult. This is most critical if you’re being considered for an entry-level or non-management position. Employers tend to know veterans have great leadership skills and team-building capabilities. What they may wonder is how you’ll fit into their office culture and organization structure.
Only correct the interviewer if your comments help the interviewer to better understand your skills or to clarify a fact that could cost you the job. Don’t worry if they don’t know the difference between a squad and a platoon.
Prepare. I’m talking about more than just repeating, “don’t screw up, don’t screw up, don’t screw up…” to yourself while you sit in the lobby. Before you show up for the interview, learn as much about the employer, the person interviewing you, and the position, as possible. Then you’ll be armed with the knowledge to be confident, assertive, and to prove without a doubt that you’re the right man or the right woman for the job.