Successful Interview: 5 Step Guide

1. Company Research

Going into an interview without researching the company first is like attempting to drive a car with no tires. Hiring managers want to see candidates that take the initiative to become familiar with the company.

A great starting point is the company website. Companies know this is first place candidates visit when learning about a company. Research the site to learn the company’s history, culture, and mission. Take note of recent company milestones or news that could potentially relate to the position you are interviewing for.

After you’ve exhausted the information on the company website, try social media to find out more. Companies understand that social media is becoming a landing place for many job seekers. Most companies have direct links to their social accounts from their main company website, the most popular platforms are LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. You should also sign up for updates via the company’s Facebook page and Twitter accounts so you can stay in the loop about the latest company updates.

2. Practice Makes Perfect

Although you won’t know what questions you’ll be asked until you’re in the hot seat, you can prepare by practicing answers to common interview questions. Spend time in front of a mirror and play around with different styles of answering the same question.

Once you’ve spent time alone going through some questions, ask a friend or family member to sit down with you and go through some common questions. Try to do the mock interview in a formal setting like a home office to get a feel for what the actual interview will feel like. It would also be a good idea to write scripts for questions that may cause you discomfort. For example: Tell me about yourself? Why should I hire you? What is your greatest weakness? How do you manage conflict?

3. Converting Military Language to Corporate Language

Sir and Ma’am are required protocol in the military, but in the non-military world, those greetings can be considered too formal. Always take the lead of your interviewer, for example, if he sys “Hi, my name is Bob,” then you can call the person Bob. If the interviewer says, “Hi my name is Mrs. Smith,” then call the interviewer Mrs. Smith.

Unless you know for certain the company you are interviewing with uses military time, change your language to “corporate time”, and confirm an interview for 2pm instead of 1400 hours. Avoid using military ranks, acronyms, or other military jargon. It is better to learn to translate military language before the interview. For example, instead of saying words like “battalion”, quantify it as “a large organization with XXX personnel in XXX geographically separated areas” or what best fits or is appropriate. Term “Commanded” or “commander” can be changed to “Senior Military Leader”. Now, when describing your title, instead of saying “I was MOS 351M/Military Occupational Specialty,” qualify it as a career field and say, “My career field or area of expertise is Human Intelligence Collection Technician.”

4. Tell Your Story

Set yourself apart from other applicants, develop a career story that is unique to you. Read and reread the position’s job description and pick out pieces of your career story that align directly with the objectives of the position you are interviewing for. Allow yourself time prior to the interview to think about key moments in your career where you successfully completed a project, or moments when something in your career didn’t work out and you recovered. If possible, try to pick out examples that directly relate to the position you are interviewing for and be ready to explain how that experience relates to the open position.

5. Carry a Reference List

Prior to the interview, prepare a list of references including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, appropriate times to contact, and a short bullet indicating your association. This list should be carried with you to the interview so you can offer it to the recruiter or hiring manager, either when they ask for references or as it feels appropriate. It’s important to ask your references for permission to use their names and contact information prior to creating your list and sharing it during your interview process.

Bonus: Follow Up

If you manage to make it out of the hot seat, don’t forget the importance final step of the interviewing process. At the end of interview, after all questions have been answered related to the position have been answered, ask the interviewer about a timeline for the next steps. Within 24-48 hours, it’s a good idea to email a thank-you note to remind the recruiter and/or hiring manager of your skills and express once more your interest in the position. If the company gave you a timeline of a week and you still haven’t heard back, a polite email or phone call to check on the status is perfectly acceptable.

Aaron HartungSuccessful Interview: 5 Step Guide