Interviewing for Military Jobs: Top 12 Interview Tips

At some point in your military career, you will have to do a formal interview to get the job you want.  Typically, this interview is conducted with the supervisor and one or two other personnel.  Depending upon the “importance” of the job, their might even be five to ten people on the panel.

Learning how to do an interview the right way is a quick way to separate yourself from your peers.

What I want to do in the paragraphs below is teach you how to do an interview the right way.  I am going to share some of my best tips on the before, during and after parts of the interview.  Let’s get started.

Before the Interview

# 1 Learn Everything You Can About the Unit

Your first objective is to learn what you can about the unit history.  Spend some time online and find out the mission of the unit, the motto, what campaigns they have served in, and the unit crest.  Find out about the current leadership team, the Medal of Honor recipients from the unit and any other pertinent information you can think of.

# 2 Learn Everything You Can About the Job

Find out everything you can about the duty position you are applying for.  Get a copy of the job description and duties.  Find out who you would work for and who would work for you, if you were selected for the position.  Make a list of the skills needed to be successful in the job.

# 3 Learn Everything You Can About the Person/People Interviewing You

If possible, find out everything you can about the people doing the interview.  Get a copy of their bio (if possible) ahead of time.  Find out what experiences they have in the Army.  Find out about their personalities and leadership styles.  Look for things you have in common with them.

# 4 Make a List of How Your Skills and Experience Make You Qualified for the Job

Probably the most important thing you can do to be successful in the interview is to spend some time and determine how your skills and experience make you qualified for the job you are interviewing for.  Take out a piece of paper and write down all of the important skills/qualities you would need to be successful in the new job and then compare that with your previous experience and skills.  This will be your key selling point during the interview.

# 5 Make Sure Your Uniform is squared Away

This one should be common sense, but have your buddy or spouse check out your uniform ahead of time.  Do an inspection the night before and then one final time before you put on your uniform the day of the interview.

# 6 Show Up 10-15 Minutes Early

You want to arrive to the interview early, but not too early.  Try to show up ten to fifteen minutes ahead of time.  If you get their earlier than that (which I suggest you do) sit in your vehicle and wait.

# 7 Make Sure Your Breath is Fresh

Have a mint or some breath spray right before you walk into the interview.  The last thing you want is stinky breath that scares away the interviewers.

During the Interview

# 8 Be Calm, Cool and Collected

You want to have good posture during the interview.  It’s okay to be nervous, just don’t let the interviewers know you are nervous.  You don’t want to be arrogant, but you want to come across as confident, calm and poised.  If you did all of your before the interview planning like you should have, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.

# 9 Make Eye Contact with Interviewer(s)

When you answer a question, make sure you make eye contact with them.  Look people into the eye when you talk to them.

# 10 Address People by Name and Rank

Make sure that you address everyone by name and rank, even if you are the same rank.  This is a sign of professionalism.

After the Interview

# 11 Close Out the Meeting with a Summary of Why They Should Hire You

One of the most important parts of the interview is the end.  You want to close out the interview with a short statement about why you are the best candidate for the job.  Summarize your qualifications and your desire to get the job.  Let them know why they should hire you.

# 12 Send a Thank You Note

Once the interview is over, make sure you send out a HAND WRITTEN thank you not to each person that interviewed you.  Very few people do this and it is a quick way to separate yourself from everyone else.

Final Thoughts

Interviewing is an art form.  It takes practice and preparation to conduct a successful interview.  By following the 12 steps mentioned above you should be well on your way to getting the jobs that you want.

What are your thoughts?  What are your best interview tips for military personnel?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “Interviewing for Military Jobs: Top 12 Interview Tips”

  1. The importance of the job interview breath mint, and other proper hygiene, cannot be overemphasized. It is pretty much a rule of that nobody who shows up to the interview with poor hygiene gets hired, because if someone isn’t going to clean up for the interview, they aren’t going to clean up for the job. It also helps to ask questions during the interview, to show that you are curious and interested.

  2. There are several things in this great post I want to touch.

    Make sure your uniform is squared away. Trust me, the interviewers will be looking at this closely. If a soldier cannot keep his/her uniform in top shape, how will they do the job properly? I also agree with the fresh breath idea. This has made and broke some applicants.

    Eye contact is also a super important detail. If someone doesn’t hold eye contact with me, I wonder if they are lying or hiding something.

    Knowing as much as possible about the unit, the job, and the interviewer is also very wise. The more ammo you walk into the interview with, the better odds you will win.

      1. You know another thing, after re-reading this great blog post, the part that really sticks with me too is showing up early. I am in total agreement. You do not want to be too early, but 10-15 minutes gives the impression that you are a timely person. In a world where people are normally late, having people that show up early is a breath of fresh air.

  3. Theresa Williams

    So many great tips. People underestimate knowing the background and history of the unit– this is a great way to invest yourself into the unit (and job) and let that shine through in the interview, even if you never display that knowledge! Also very important is sending a handwritten thank you note. In this age of digital and online presence, this is almost totally forgotten. We are still physical beings living in a physical world! Nowadays, there is nothing more impressive than a handwritten thank you.

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