Monday, January 3, 2011

Transitioning Out of the Military: 5 Steps to Success

Step 4 – Prepare for Your Job Interviews

You successfully translated your military skills into a resume. Now it is time to prepare for the job interview phase. You may be facing your first-ever job interview, or at least the first in many years. Regardless, going into an interview unprepared is a recipe for failure. Following are critical steps for preparation.

Prepare your talking points. The job search process is an exercise in marketing yourself. Before you go into an interview, research the company, read the job posting, and determine how you can benefit the organization. The benefits you will offer become your talking points in the interview. No matter what question is asked, you always want to talk about how you, and your skills, can enhance the company. Determine how you can benefit the organization (i.e. improved productivity, enhanced quality) and offer solid examples of your military accomplishments that demonstrate these skills.

Give yourself credit. In the military, you are taught to act as part of a team. Often ex-military members have trouble talking about themselves because they are hesitant to “brag” or they feel as though they “just did their job.” You must define the benefits you brought to the team. It is not bragging if you are simply stating the facts of how you can help an organization. Most civilians do not know what military life is like. For this reason, they may think your accomplishments are implausible. Your goal in the interview is to ensure they understand your skills.

Practice, practice, practice. Practice the wording, tone, and general responses to the most commonly asked questions such as “Tell me about yourself?”, “What are your strengths/weaknesses?”, and “Why should I hire you?” Your responses should be brief – not more than 2 minutes – while providing as much relevant detail as possible. Write down and memorize PAR (Problem/Action/Result) stories that demonstrate five to ten of your most valuable skills.

Show your personality. Remember that the interview is an opportunity for the company to determine whether or not you are a good “fit” for the position. Don’t forget to smile, don’t take yourself too seriously, ease up on the formality of “sir” and “ma’am”, and do not wear military attire to the interview.

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