How Military Veterans Have Successful Job Interviews

How Military Veterans Have Successful Job InterviewsSponsored Content Courtesy of USAA

Planning for an effective military to civilian transition is one of the most vital things to do for an effective career, family, and financial transition.  Interviewing for a job can be a nerve wracking experience, if you are unprepared.  When prepared, interviews are the opportunity for you to show all that you have to offer a company and your potential colleagues.

Follow these tips to prepare for and have a successful interview.

  1. Practice Interviewing At Home & Record Yourself. Some of the best interview preparation that you can do is to use your phone to record your answers.  When you play back the recording, take notes to ensure that your responses are clear, you have a confident tone, and your body language is open, relaxed, and confident.  Recording and improving your interview responses is one of the best ways to improve interview skills.
  1. Dress for The Job You Want. Plan to attend an interview in professional and conservative business attire – a jacket, tie, dress shoes, and dress slacks.  Both men and women should wear professional and conservative business attire.  It is tempting to wear your uniform, but a professional employer wants to be able to see you in their organization, not as a soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen.  Ensure that the fit of your clothes is comfortable and you can breathe and move well.  Impeccable personal dress is a way to standout.
  1. Arrive Early, Hydrated, and Fed. Be at the interview location no more than 10 minutes before your scheduled time.  Arriving too early can make is awkward for the interviewers if they are interviewing separate candidates.  Ensure that you eat, hydrate with water, and have some (not too much) caffeine.  Then go to the bathroom 15 minutes before your interview starts.
  1. Know Where You Are Going & Where To Park. In the day of Waze and Google Maps it is much easier to get to where you need to be.  The best situation is to drive to your interview, learn where you need to park, and learn any special procedures to enter the building.  If you can’t do this ahead of time, then leave 30 minutes early to allow extra time to find everything.  Finally, use the WAZE app to route you around any accidents or construction.
  1. Have a Portfolio. Have extra copies of your resume, personal cards, a note pad, and several pens.  If you feel a work portfolio or work samples are essential, then bring copies, but hand them out after the interview is concluded.
  1. Be Prepared to Interview When Ever You Are At a Company or Career Fair. Be ready and able to have a 30-60-minute interview with a company.  If you make a great first impression, the company may want to interview right on the spot.
  1. Use The STARS Format To Answer Interview Questions.
  • Situation, Task, Action, Result, Skills (STARS)
  • Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work.
  • Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.
  • Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.
  • Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken.
  • Skills: Skills you used to be successful – includes both hard (technical) skills and soft skills (leadership, teaching, etc.).
  • Create 6-10 sentence answers to frequent questions on leadership, improvements, cost savings, and how you learned a new skill.
  1. Have Ten Common Interview Questions Memorized in Advance. Having ten great answers to standard interview questions is a terrific way to have an outstanding interview even if you are nervous.  The ten standard interview answers will reinforce other skill sets listed on your resume.  Remember, use the STARS format to create answers for all these questions.
  1. How does your background make you the ideal candidate for this position?
  2. Provide an example of how you lead a team to success on a project?
  3. Provide an example of how you taught a group a new skill? How did you measure the outcome?
  4. Describe an instance where your first project plan was not successful? What did you do to change the outcome?
  5. Give a detailed description of how you created an innovation and how did you convince others it was a promising idea? Why was it innovative?
  6. Describe an instance where you saved money or reduced cost for an organization. How did you go about implementing the change?
  7. How have you dealt with an unhappy customer? What did you do to make that customer happy and retain their business?
  8. Illustrate an instance where you had to deliver unwelcome news to your boss. How did you do it, what was the outcome, and what did you learn?
  9. Provide an example of how your military training will make you successful in this position. How do your military skills help make you an ideal candidate?
  10. What are three things that you would tell a candidate interested in this company about our products? How do our products make us superior to our competitors?

Having a powerful base of pre-prepared answers using the STARS format is the way to interview success.  Have a great interview!

Share some of your tips and interview preparation techniques.

Resources to Support an Effective Military to Civilian Transition:

  1. 5 Keys to a Smoother Military Transition – Great Advice to Succeed By @USAA –
  2. After Service: 3 Routes to a Civilian Career – Solid Military to Civilian Transition Advice By @USAA –
  3. Create a Military Transition Fund to Have a Successful Military to Civilian Transition –
  4. USAA Employment Tools to Help Translate Military Skills to Civilian Jobs – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) –
  5. USAA INSIGHT: 3 Ways to Ease Your Shift from Military Service to Civilian Life From @USAA –
  6. USAA Leaving the Military Guide – Advice & Support for a Smooth Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) –
  7. USAA Military Separation Assessment Tool for Financial Planning – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) –
  8. USAA Military Separation Checklist Tool for Planning Your Military to Civilian Transition – USAA Members Only (Free to Join) –
  9. USAA News – Member’s Easy Military Transition? He Credits Education and Planning –


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