How can you tell whether a veteran is really ready for the interview? You built a good resume. You did your networking. The right job opened up, and you were invited for an interview. You look ready. I bet you even look spiffy; veterans usually achieve spiffiness quite nicely.
So why are you sweating the interview so hard now? If you are a veteran or a military spouse, I will bet that you did not do much interview prep. As Military.com's transition master coach, I've taught thousands of veterans and military spouses the ins and outs of job hunting. The one thing we all have in common is that we do not spend much time preparing for an interview. We wing it.
And Why Not Wing the Interview?
Preparing for an interview feels like a waste of time for a lot of veterans and spouses in military transition. You already know the subject -- your career experience -- better than anyone. The answers to practice interview questions seem so obvious. Besides, you are a smart person. You can wing it, and no one will ever know.
But they do know. That is why you just Googled "last-minute interview prep." There is some part of you that suspects hiring managers can tell whether you are properly prepared. So what can you do at the last minute so you look more polished? Here are things you can do right now and one to add later.
1. Accept That the Interview Is a Competition.
Interviews are not a meet-and-greet. Interviews are meant to do a certain kind of work. They are designed to help a hiring manager decide which of four or five virtual strangers are the right choice for the job. Take it as seriously as any other competition and spend the next hour doing the work of getting ready.
2. Recognize the Interview Is Not About You.
The interview will feel personal. The recruiter or hiring manager will ask you a lot of questions about your work style, your experience, your skills. The best competitors realize that the interview is not actually about them. The interview is about the hiring manager who has a problem to be solved by hiring a new employee. In every answer you give, stand out from the competition by showing how you have solved problems in the past and how you can solve the hiring manager's problems in the future.
3. Print the Job Listing.
If there is a job listing for this job, print it out. Highlight each of the job skills requested in the job listing. Jot down your experiences with this skill in the margins. Research shows that the things we write with our hands we remember much better than the things we read or type.
4. Review Your Resume Out Loud.
Pretend that the hiring manager is going to be wicked busy and only has time to ask you one question. The question is: Can you walk me through your resume and show me exactly how you are qualified for this job? Take a deep breath and remember the skills you identified in the previous step. Then read out loud each line of your resume that matches up with the job listing.
5. Read About the One Word That Will Ruin Your Resume.
"We" is the one word that will ruin your resume. Scan my tips on how to avoid the word bomb and answer in a way that will make you eminently hireable.
6. Google Wisely.
If you have not done extensive research on the company, skip the company website. Instead, Google the name of the company, plus "news." Then Google the name of the company, plus "veteran." Those two things often will give you plenty to talk about.
7. Speed-Stalk the Interviewer.
If you know the name of the interviewer, look them up on LinkedIn and scan their background. It helps you to pronounce their name right, remember it when you need to and see whether you have anything in common.
8. Resolve Never to Be This Unprepared Again.
Sometimes an interview comes upon you suddenly in the military. You are incredibly busy at the command, and the date sneaks up on you. Or you get asked whether you can meet with another hiring manager later that day. You could also be at pasta night at your kid's school when you suddenly realize that you are being interviewed. By doing a little work now, you can make sure you are always prepared, no matter when you interview.
9. Sign Up for Our Free Master Class for Interview Skills
If you have an interview coming up -- or you hope to get an interview soon -- sign up for our free master class, "How to Nail Your Interview and Get the Job Offer." We are doing the class live on Thursday, March 24, at 4 p.m. EST. If you can't make the class, sign up now and you will get the exclusive link to the class in your email the following week. You will learn:
- The interview sin all veterans make (at first)
- The most important interview questions in the history of the world.
- Easy templates to answer interview questions in a way the hiring manager will love.
- The follow-up step that will make you unforgettable.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Learn More About the Veteran Employment Project
To get more tips on how to make a successful military transition, sign up for one of our FREE Military Transition Master Classes today. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.