An interview is the pivotal point where you can change an opportunity into an offer. For transitioning veterans, it’s a new world. A job interview may seem similar to a promotion board, but the environment is very different. Here are a few tips to consider to succeed.

1. Show some personality.

This is critical for veterans. If you’ve made it to an interview, the recruiter has already decided that you have the skills for the position (or at least your resume indicates that you do). Interviews are largely about deciding if you’re a good personality fit for the position. Let yours shine – give a smile, be willing to talk about hobbies and interests outside of the office, and search for common interests between you and the recruiter. Avoid hot-button topics like religion and politics, but make yourself likable – if the recruiter would want to play a round of golf with you, they’d probably want to hire you.

2. Expect some ‘vet’ questions.

Some recruiters have a lot of military experience (whether they were in service themselves or have simply spent a lot of time in the defense industry). Others are clearly rookies. If you get asked what you consider to be a ‘dumb’ question, don’t let on your frustration show. And don’t expect a recruiter to know what it means that you were a squadron leader or survived a stint as an executive officer at the Pentagon – expect that they’ll ask questions about your work and be prepared to translate your military duties into civilian job terms.

3. Dress for the job.

If you’ve attended a military transition seminar they likely gave tips on buying a suit and professional dress. Today’s working environment is more business casual than ever, so rushing out to J.C. Penny or the Men’s Warehouse may not be necessary. You can attend an interview in slacks and a button-down or even a polo. Women can likely get buy with nice slacks and a shirt. A lot of this comes down to personal preference and the industry – I’m not going to tell you you can’t wear a suit if it makes you feel more confident (and who doesn’t like a sharp-dressed man or woman?) But if you’re not comfortable in a suit and tie (and after 20 years wearing pajamas to the office that may be the case), don’t wear one.

4. Know the mission.

You knew the mission of the military – know the mission of the company you’re interviewing with. Recruiters love it when you show an affinity for the company you’re interested in working for – it shows you’re a candidate they won’t just be able to hire, but who they can retain. Loyalty is a quality recruiters often expect from vets, but doing your homework on the company before the interview will show how you’re going to be a great fit for the company, not just the position. One of the most critical parts of the interview is the question you ask of the recruiter – here’s a list to consider.

If you’ve made it to the interview process you’re at a critical point. Let your personality shine and show off your skills – this is no time for military modesty. Get your swagger on and get ready for an offer.

Related: Military-to-Civilian Job Interview Tips




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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer