Relocating often as a military spouse has afforded me the opportunity to participate in a lot of job interviews. As well, I’ve been on several interview panels as the hiring manager.
In this article, I will offer some insight into how you can increase your chances of getting the job, by giving an awesome interview.
Do your research. This is at the top of my list of advice for people who want to interview well. As a hiring manager, I am more interested in hiring the person who took the time to learn about my agency, than I am the person who asks me who we are and what we do.
Study the agency’s organizational chart, mission, vision, core values, leadership biographies, etc. Do a background check on the position you’re interviewing for.
For example, is it a new position? And, if possible, get the name(s) of the interviewer(s) ahead of time and read their bios or LinkedIn profiles. It’s important to know who you’re talking to!
Prepare for Q&A.
If you have participated in previous interviews, then you have an idea of some of the questions you might be asked. Write out the interview questions you remember from times past, research other common interview questions, and then record your answers. This will help you with a basic outline of how you will respond to potential questions.
Don’t try to memorize your answers. You probably won’t remember them word-for-word, and that would increase your nervousness and anxiety during the interview. Plus, your answers would come across textbookish, and that’s a turnoff.
Study your resume.
This may sound a little silly, but when you have a long, diverse work history, it is difficult to remember all the minute details of every job you’ve ever had.
So read through your resume ahead of time, and even make notes on a hard copy where your experiences and achievements relate to the job for which you’re applying. This will help you in my next point.
Tie it all together.
When you’re answering questions in the interview, tie in the above points. It should sound natural. Don’t spout off every detail you know or it will look like you’re trying too hard.
Talk about what you’ve done, how you will do it in the position you’re interviewing for, and how that relates overall to the agency’s mission, etc. Again, it should be natural. Don’t go down a bunny trail of relating 10 things together, or you’ll end up off topic.
Look the part.
The interviewer needs to envision you in the position. So if you’re interviewing for an executive leadership position, wear a suit. Have tasteful make-up, combed hair, and an overall polished appearance. Heck, bring a briefcase to enhance the look.
Talk the part.
Know the language of the industry you’re interviewing for. Many different agencies use different words that essentially mean the same thing. Using their common language shows that you know the agency’s culture.
For example, if you’ve just retired from the military and are interviewing for a corporate job, don’t use a bunch of acronyms, or phrases like, “command and control,” “rudder,” or “vector check.” Because, if you do, it will appear that you can’t detach from the military, and will thus not be a good fit for that civilian agency.
At the end of an interview, applicants will generally be given an opportunity to ask questions. Even if you don’t have any, ask one (or two or three) anyway. This shows that you’re putting thought into the position and are taking it seriously. PLEASE, do not ask about benefits, salary, and vacation days at this point. Wait until you get an offer first.
Send a thank you note.
Within a day or two, send a thank you note. Hand-written is more personal than typed. In the note, you can identify a few key points about how you’re a good fit for the job. Just be brief and to the point. You can email the note at first, but then send a hard copy via snail mail. It’ll show you make the extra effort.
This is a lot of information, but it’s key when participating in an interview. If you’ve made it far enough along in the job application process to be selected for an interview, then you really want to be prepared for it.
This is your one shot to get in front of the hiring manager to prove yourself.
Make it count.