An unfortunately truth of military life, that most of us know all too well, is that you will likely have to move at some point. Honestly you will likely have to move at several points in your spouse’s military career, depending on how long they stay in. This means you will also likely have to face the fun of job searching more than once in your life. While job searching in itself can be quite challenging, an often overlooked, but extremely important part of the dreaded job search is the job interview. Once you have secured an interview, (congrats!), you are now faced with a myriad of questions. What should you wear? What should you say? Even more importantly, what should you not do? Over the last two years I had to interview several people for a position open at my firm and while we had some wonderful candidates, we also had some interviewees that did some questionable things, ultimately costing them job offer. The great news is you can benefit from their mistakes, because here’s a list of Do’s and Don’ts for your next interview, based off my experiences on both sides of the interview desk:
1. DO arrive slightly early. As they say, the early bird gets the worm and about 15 minutes prior to the interview is “on time”.
2. DON’T arrive too early or too late. If you get there an hour before your interview, the person interviewing you will likely not have time to see you so you will be waiting for quite some time and they will feel guilty for making you wait. Conversely, if you get there an hour after your interview was supposed to start, it says that you don’t value the potential job and you’ve already flunked out of the interview.
3. DO dress for success. As they say, first impressions are important and the first thing the person interviewing you is going to notice is your clothing. Shallow? Maybe, but also true. You don’t need to go all out on a three piece suit or designer clothes, but do dress in an outfit that you would likely wear to work if you got the job. Don’t forget to make sure your clothes are ironed and that you look polished as well.
4. DON’T dress to make a statement. By which I mean, don’t dress to make the wrong statement. I once had a male interviewee show up wearing a short, tight skirt and tights to an interview at a conservative law office. While I applaud his individuality, the fact is that I would not wear a short, tight skirt to an interview, so neither should he. An interview is a time to dress to show how well you would fit in at the company you are interviewing at, not a time to make a bold fashion statement.
5. DO let your personality shine through. Interviewers love hearing about candidate’s hobbies and interests outside of work because it helps them get a feel for who you are as an individual. Do you love to volunteer in your free time or are you an avid reader? Feel free to share that!
6. DON’T get too off track. While it’s great to share some of your interests, don’t get too off track by going on about your personal life. Remember what you are interviewing for and find ways to bring the conversation back to the position.
7. DO talk yourself up. Good news, you’re being interviewed because the company already thinks you’re qualified! Impress them further by telling them about your accomplishments and why you would be a great fit for the position.
8. DON’T overdo it. My company once interviewed someone who went on and on for almost thirty minutes telling us why she wanted the job, but the thing is she never gave us a chance to talk so by the end of the interview we felt that we never got a chance to connect with her. Which brings me to my next point.
9. DO let them ask questions. Remember they are interviewing you and be prepared for them to have a list of questions to ask you and keep your answers short, sweet and on point.
10. DON’T come without a couple questions to ask them as well. Every interview that I’ve been in, as a candidate or as the one interviewing, has ended the interview with the dreaded question “Do you have any questions for us?” Be prepared for this question ahead of time. If you don’t have any specific questions for the interviewer, try looking at the company’s website ahead of time and find a question you can ask about the company that also shows you researched the company. (Bonus points!)
11. DO stay positive! Even if your first interview doesn’t result in a job offer, do remember that you will find a job! The job search can be a long process but stay positive that you will find the right job someday soon and remember this list of interview Do’s and Don’ts to help you in your next interview in the meantime.