10 Interview Tips for Veterans

One of the critical factors in your successful job search will be how well you are able to demonstrate your competence by anticipating questions and rehearsing the key points you want to make. The questions listed below are intended to provide you a sample of common questions that prospective employers may ask you during the course of a job interview.

"Tell me about yourself."

Short, concise, chronological answer focused on major decisions and major accomplishments. Focus on two or three major areas of your life (i.e.: education and military) Should take between two and four minutes to answer. Focus accomplishments on the job opening whenever possible.

"What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?"

Respond with strengths that correspond with qualities the employer is looking for. Use a part of the job opening that you lack experience in and use that as a weakness (i.e.: “I haven’t used this type of system but I am a quick study.”) Take a weakness from long ago and explain how you overcame it. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by bearing your soul to the interviewer. Have a couple examples of each in case the question asks for a list of strengths/weaknesses.

"What do you do when you disagree with a superior?"

Input is encouraged when it helps lead to efficient mission accomplishment. Input must be presented in a professional manner. Never criticize a superior in open forum. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Make an appointment with your superior if you feel strongly enough about it so you can discuss it one-on-one.

"In what way has your job prepared you for greater challenge?"

The interviewer is looking for examples of your professional development to determine future growth potential. Give an example from a past work experience that demonstrates how you improved your listening skills, your ability to make tough decisions, your ability to work within established procedures, your ability to lead people and manage assets.

"What interests you about this job?"

Always do research about the company ahead of time to have a general idea about their bottom line. Make a list of specific skills you have acquired in previous jobs that qualify you for the current opening. Your answer should highlight the personality traits that correspond with the job opening.

"Do you have any questions?"

Good indication that you have one last chance to make a favorable impression. This is not the time to discuss salary, benefits, bonuses, etc. Show interest in the company and the position by asking questions like:

“What are the most important skills & attributes for a successful career in this company?”
“Why is this position vacant?”
“Why did you join the company & what is it about the company that keeps you with them?”
“What type of training is required for the position and how extensive is it?”
“Who do I report to and when will I get the opportunity to meet that person?”
“How does the company conduct performance evaluations and how often?”

"Why did you leave your last job?"

Always have an acceptable reason as to why you left your previous employment. Some examples of acceptable reasons include; Wanted greater advancement opportunities, wanted to be with a larger, smaller, better company, wanted greater challenges, etc. Remember not to be critical of your last job: State your reasons in a positive light.

"What is your greatest accomplishment?"

Answer with results produced rather than duties given. This information should be in your resume. Keep your answer job related and don’t exaggerate.

"What did you like/dislike about your last job?"

Criticism of your previous employer is a warning flag that you could be a problem employee and no one intentionally hires a problem employee. Talk about the positive things you learned in your last job that make you a great candidate for hire.

"Where do you expect to be in five years?"

Don’t respond to this question with overconfidence that borders on arrogance (“In your job.”) Best course of action is to emphasize your desire to continue developing the quality and scope of your work in a professional environment in order to improve the company’s profitability.

There are many more questions that an interviewer can ask you. The key is to be prepared by knowing yourself. Answer questions confidently and intelligently by highlighting the work experience you have gained and the value system you possess. Relate your strengths to the specific job opportunity. The better you prepare, the more likely you will be to give the impression that you are the polished professional they want to hire.

Finally, one of the most important facets of any job interview is the way you “close” the interview. Before the interview is over, ensure that you emphasize your interest in the job opportunity and in the company. Tell the interviewer again why you are a perfect match for the position. Ask for a business card and any other company information available and ask the interviewer when you may contact them for a follow-up interview. Above all, prepare and maintain a positive attitude throughout!!

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'"
Dr. Martin Luther King

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