Interviewing for a new position can be intimidating. A few pointers can make the difference between a relaxed fruitful interview and a terrifying experience that reduces your chances of becoming a “new employee”.

  • Bring only essential items to the interview (i.e.resume,references,portfolio,licenses,date book,etc.) Do not bring anything unrelated to the job into the interview.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early so you can relax and review what you want to say.
  • Be pleasant and friendly but businesslike to everyone you meet.
  • Shake hands firmly. Be yourself. Use natural gestures and movements.
  • Stress you qualifications without exaggeration. Emphasize experience and training related to the job opening.
  • If you know about the company’s products and services,you should refer to them as you answer questions. It is impressive if you have positive knowledge about the company. If the company is involved in any kind of problem (i.e. lawsuits,layoffs,etc.) do not bring it up.
  • When asked a question,it is okay to pause and think about your answer. Answer questions with more than a “yes” or “no”. On the other hand,do not ramble. A successful interview occurs if the interviewer talks fifty percent of the time.
  • Speak positively of past employers and avoid discussing personal,domestic or financial problems.
  • Know your salary range from your research. When asked “What are your ideas on salary?”,answer with a question of the interviewer. i.e. “What do you pay people with my skills and experience?”
  • Ask probing questions about the company plans,nature of the job,etc. Questions indicate interest and motivation. Questions are also helpful in getting the interviewer to talk.
  • Be prepared if the interviewer says,“You’re perfect for the job. When can you start?” Preparing for this question can prevent a snap decision. Most employers will allow you time to make this decision. Be prepared if they ask,“Can you start tomorrow?”
  • Thank the interviewer even if they indicate that you are not right for the job. Ask about other companies that might be hiring. Get a name of someone to see.
  • Send a brief thank you note immediately after the interview.
  • Call a few days after the interview to see if a hiring decision has been made.

Ask Questions during the Interview

What to know

During your job interview,you will be asked questions about your work experience,education,and goals. Your answers and the nonverbal messages you send determine the impression you make. However,interviewers also learn about you,and remember you,by the questions you ask. Interviewers respect candidates who think about their choices carefully,and they appreciate knowing you have done your homework.

During the interview,you will also be deciding if the company is a good place to work. Based on the answers to your questions,you will learn about the employer. Look for a match between the company and your goals,needs,and attitudes.

It is a good idea to write out five or six questions before the interview. Revise the questions for each interview based on your research. If a question is answered before you ask it,choose another question from your list.

Your questions should do two things they should get the information you want to know about the company. They should also reflect your knowledge of the company. Use the information you learned while doing research on the company to write your questions.

What to do

Following is a list of suggested questions. Many of these questions may be answered during your research of the company. Do not bother to ask something you already know. Add some questions of your own.

  1. I believe I have a clear picture of the job,but could you please give me a few more details?
  2. How would you describe a typical day in this position?
  3. What are the promotion possibilities?
  4. Where does the job fit into the organization?
  5. To whom would I report?
  6. What other positions would I interface with while performing my duties?
  7. How would you describe the work environment?
  8. Do your employees work individually or as a team?
  9. Where is the job located?
  10. What career opportunities exist in the company?
  11. What further education or training does the company consider important for my future progress?
  12. How are performance reviews done?
  13. What is the general management style with regard to customer service,products,or employees?
  14. Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?
  15. How would I be trained or introduced to the job?
  16. What are the department’s goals for the year?
  17. When will you make a decision?
  18. Does the company have a promote-from-within policy?
  19. What kind of work schedule does the company have?
  20. Does the company require employees to relocate,and if so,how is that done?
  21. Does the job require travel,and if so,how much?

The best questions show that you have done research about the company and,at the same time will inform you of the information you really want to know. The following are three examples of this type of question. Of course,you will tailor each question to the company information and the job opening.

  1. What opportunities are available if I work in the _______area?
  2. Your company literature indicates that the company actively encourages continuing education. What opportunities exist upon completing more education?
  3. In your Annual Report,the company president talked about a new fiber optics division. What are the research goals of the division and how would it relate to the division where I am applying?

Good questions use information the interviewer shared with you earlier in the interview. For example,if the interviewer mentioned that the company plans to develop new products,you might ask how these plans will affect the job you are seeking.

Some questions are not appropriate for the first interview. Salary and benefits are important,but same these questions until an offer has been made,unless the interviewer brings up the topic.

Finally,pay attention to the time left in the interview. Usually,the interviewer will invite you to ask questions during the last five to eight minutes of an hour interview. So,when you have an interview scheduled,write at least six questions you want to ask to help you get the information you need. Ask only the most important questions. If time is short,you might say: “I had hoped to ask you several questions,but as our time is short,let me ask the two questions that are most important to me.”

If you think there are questions the interviewer may have that could work against your opportunity for the position,you can address these questions yourself. Remember,issues are situation and dependent. Some employer concerns might be military spouse issues,commuting,relocation,military stereotypes,disabilities etc. you might say,  “I realize my home is 40 miles from the office,but I enjoy the time commuting,and that would not be a deterrent for me.” ‘I realize many people believe that someone with a military background might be rigid,but I pride myself on being innovative. I enjoy change.” or,“I realize that accepting this job would mean relocating to another state,but my family and I have already discussed it and agree it would be a great opportunity for us.” Another way to address these issues is by asking the interviewer if there are any questions that you have not answered to his/her satisfaction. DO NOT Address limitations that the interviewers are not already aware of or that will not interfere with your ability to do the job.

Go to to view our job openings and join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at If you have specific questions about issues affecting you, your benefits, your dependents etc., feel free to send them to me personally and I will try to help you. If you have questions about compensation and disability benefits or VA health care benefits, ask the First Sergeant at [email protected].