What helped you the most in your interview preparation?
Do some soul searching on your eduction, experience, accomplishment and personal characteristics. I would learn as much about the company as possible. What products they offer that are market leaders? What distinguishes them from their competition? What challenges does the company and/or industry face in the future? Review your experience and strengths, and if possible, be able to illustrate the way you can assist them in meeting the aformentioned challenges. What can you do that makes you a standout candidte. Be prepared to state and demonstrate why you are an excellent candidate, and how your hiring may provide mutual advantages.
Lots of good advice above. I fully agree with the concept of 'like' being as important as 'qualified' in the decision process.
Two things to add to the recommendations of the others:
When HR calls to set up an interview in addition to the When and Where, make sure you find out Who. Then do a bit of research (Google, Linked In) on the person, or people, doing the interview. That will help you feel comfortable. And you want to ask the How. Many companies have a standard interview process and knowing which process will allow you to prepare accordingly, again, making you more comfortable.
Make sure your resume includes things that make you stand out. I've gotten more discussion, which provides more bonding with the interviewer, from the two or three lines of 'Other Activities' in my resume than anything else on the page. It makes you more personable and human. One interview process was 3 fifteen minute session with 3 different people. They had a set of question from their HR they had to work through, which covered about 10 minutes each. The last 5 minutes was more an open forum. With the hiring manager I spent 5 minutes talking karate, with they guy I was replacing, we talked genealogy for 5 minutes. And yes, I got the job!
Stephen - Before you go into the interview do a self-assessment of yourself and the environment in which you think you'd succeed. Do you like a highly structured environment with a specific job description in a corporate environment or would you do better in a smaller environment with greater flexibility? Do you work better on your own or in a team? Are you comfortable with repetitive tasks or do you crave variety in your work day? Learn as much as you can about the company and compare that to the ideal environment for you. Employers don't just want someone who can do the job. They want a good fit. They want someone who will thrive in their business environment. You need to know what you need to flourish before you walk in the door and communicate that to the interviewer. It's one thing to say, "I can do this job because I have the skills." It's far more convincing to say (and mean it) "This sounds like the type of office environment where I could do my best work," or "This is exactly the type of position I've been looking for and I think I'd be able to contribute a lot." Good luck.
People often prepare by articulating their skills, but often forget to come up with past examples of how those skills have actually been applied. Time management, problem solving, conflict resolution, teamwork, etc. - think about your actual experiences (even if not in the business world) and how they demonstrate the skills you have and apply. One other item is to really listen to the questions and make sure you answer them. Often people go into interviews and have a set script they force into answers. The information may be important to share but try to do it in the right context.
Thank you for your service. I think you have some great advice above. My advice is in two areas. 1. Once you have your targeted companies you are really interested in working for, go deeper on your research than you might consider. I would actually try to find some of the employees in LinkedIn within the area or department or through your research on the web and call them for a quick couple of research questions on the company and let them know you are interested in working there. You might gain a different perspective than just checking what they do or make on the web. 2. You might want to think of the interview as you are doing the interview of the company vs them of you. Lay out your accomplishments and leadership and what attracted you to the company and then and ask why someone like you might be a good fit. There are many different types of interviews and you should try to get a perspective of each one to better prepare. Don't think you don't have the skills if you did not do the exact job as many roles have components which cross over to any position. Leadership, communication, etc.
I review the job I am interested in and create "talking points" of past experiences and accomplishments that specifically addresses the key qualifications. I also research the company and make note of any significant events such as an acquisition, new product launch, etc., and work at least one item I've researched into the conversation. Finally, I use Linked In to get some background info on the people I am interviewing with. Thanks for your service Stephen!
I very much agree with Wayne's answer. The most important thing is to be yourself & be confident in what you know. Don't try to be someone you're not, it won't work out. Review your credentials with yourself, try to do some research on the company you're going to interview with so that you understand them as much as possible before meeting them. Personally, aside from role playing interviews, I went on a couple of interviews where I was 95% sure I didn't want the position they were offering just to get myself out there & see what kind of questions they would ask. Once I did go on a promising interview, I was a bit more comfortable and confident. Bottom line-be honest & be yourself.
The interview is a conversation; not an inquisition or a sales pitch.
Your objective in the interview is to MAKE A FRIEND.
It is not to WIN the interview as so many advisors and books preach.
It is not to sell yourself.
The goal is to make a friend; have a conversation.
I will hire you for two reasons.
1. First to help me do my job.
2.I like you.
Help me do my job is 20% of the hiring decision. I like you is 80%.
Your goal is to leave the room with another friend. You are not going to be able to make a friend of all interviewers so probably the job and company culture were not a good fit.
No one is perfectly prepared for any job.
So if I am going to spend time training you and tolerating your mistakes, I have to like you.
I hire people I like.
There are plenty of published resources about how to answer the tough questions.
Review your resume. Make sure you take extra copies of the resume to hand to anyone who may need one. Arrive 10 minutes early or 20 minutes early if you have to complete a job application on site.
Research the company. The more you know about who they are and what they do the better you can provide relatable examples of experience.
Do a search on LinkedIn and see if you know anyone who currently works there. If some of your connections work there then ask them some questions. Maybe they can offer a recommendation for you.
Don't be afraid to ask for the job at the end of the interview. Remember to restate why you are a good candidate, your level of interest in the position and when they may advise you of a decision or next step in the interview process.
The best way to prepare is to role play. Your facial expressions are really important. You may not realize what you are doing wrong. Have someone hit you with all the tough questions. Practice!
Thank you for your service!
Buy the book "how to read a person like a book." It talks about body language. A majority of face to face communication is non-verbal, so you want to both be aware of your non-verbal cues, and monitor theirs as well.
Have a friend interview you in a mock interview, and video record the session. Watch the recording, and you may see things about yourself that you were unaware of, because they occur subconsiously. Listed for those placeholders that we use to fill in the silence, like the words: "uh," "you know," and "like." It takes some work, but you can erase those from your speech. I just say nothing when those instances come up. Good luck!
Something else to think about: The civilian culture can be a LOT less formal than military culture. For example, answering "sir/ma'am" can seem respectful and appropriate given your training, but can feel stiff and awkward to someone who isn't used to that, and can even make them think that you're uncomfortable (stiff applicant = nervous applicant).
My advice: you want to be respectful (don't be cavalier with the joking around!) but use a tempo and tone in your voice that says you are someone they will like and want to be around during the workday. Think about what your conversational tone is like with your grandparents or your in-laws, not with your commanding officer.
Remember to give lots of examples when answering questions. It’s not enough to say, “I did that all the time in my last job.” You need to paint the interviewer a picture of how you went about completing the tasks they ask about. Tell them stories. People love stories! The STAR method described above is a good outline to follow.
Don’t be vague or tell them what you “would do” (everyone makes this mistake). Tell them what you “have done”. Past experience is a much better indicator of what you “will do” in the future.
Also, avoid saying “we” did this or that…, say “I” did this or that, instead. They aren’t interested in hiring your unit, team, or squadron. They are only interested in you, so focus on the specific actions you took.
Research the company as much as possible and develop a list of written questions so you don't forget to ask them during the interview. Employers are impressed by applicants who are so interested in their company they do lots of research. It shows that you don't want just a job but a career.
In my experience in recruiting and Human Resources, not only do we want qualified candidates but we also want someone who is going to fit in with the company culture. You could be the best fit on paper but once we meet in person if you don't seem like a good fit personality wise that could kill the whole process. Research the company and their mission statement and goals. Understand what the culture and atmosphere is like. Look up other employees at the company on LinkedIn for clues as to what type of employees the company hires.
I try and follow these simple rules:
1) Know the company, the position you applied for and their needs.
2) Know your resume. You do not have to know any more or less than what you have provided on your resume.
3) Be personable when appropriate and reserved at all other times.
4) Dress your best.
5) Remember you are also interviewing the company that is interviewing you.
Go get some index cards. Write the most common questions you have been asked on one side, write the answers on the other. Also come up with some success stories that you might want to tell in an interview and write those out. Then practice. You don't need to memorize the answers word for word, but if you think them through when you aren't under pressure you will come up with better answers - and you will be more prepared for those unexpected questions.
Find 1-2 people you trust, ideally with experience in the area you are interviewing, and ask them to do a practice interview with you. Unlike a real interview your practice interviewees can give you immediate feedback on how you did.
Read the book PCS to Corporate America. It's a great resource.
The interviews: have 4-5 examples of past experience which you can translate to any question. Most interviews are situational (tell me about a time when...). When you answer, use the STAR method: situation, task, action, result.
As an example- tell me about a time you had to work in a team to accomplish a goal?
S- when I was in the army, I was assigned to take over a team in Iraq. The team was not performing well
T- I was asked to increase the teams reporting as quickly as possible.
A- I took a week to assess the current operations, asked the team for input on how to make it better... This is the bulk of your answer
R- the team increases reporting by 150% in a 2 month period and I was able to promote my junior soldier.
Hope that helped. Good luck.
Listen first; respond directly to what the interviewer has asked. Maintain eye contact, but remember to smile. Relax . . . try to enjoy the experience.
Also, don't be discouraged having to go on multiple interviews: practice makes perfect. You do get better at it the more you interview.
Be confident in what you know. Be honest. Talk about what you know. If you have similar experience or can relate then talk about that.
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