In essence, an interview is where employers want to establish that you ‘Can Do’, ‘Will Do’, and ‘Will Fit’. It takes one set of skills to do a job well, and a completely different set to talk about yourself under pressure in a way that convinces other people to select you for it. Confidence is key here and in order to convince an interviewer of your fit for the job, you need to be able to convince yourself. Which is why preparation is key!
If you’ve reached the interview stage, you should now be confident in the knowledge, skills and experience you have to offer a prospective employer. Whether this is the first interview you have had since you left the military or the 10th, you are still going to want to get it right and first thing to note is that preparation really is key!
The following activities and resources will help you best prepare for any upcoming interview, use it as a guide to complete this checklist. Make sure to check off every task before stepping into each interview.
Do your homework
Identify how your skills relate to the job description
Prepare answers to some common and hard interview questions
Rehearse the answers with friends
Plan what questions you are going to ask
Read our guide on 10 Interview tips to make sure you get hired
Plan what you are going to wear
Plan how you are going to get there (if offline) or download the relevant software/ understand how the interview will take place (if online)
Print off 2 copies of your CV, a copy of your references and your education/ qualification certificates and a copy of the job description and highlight key points and take photo identification.
PREPARING FOR A JOB INTERVIEW
So you’ve got an interview. Now what? Expect to spend several hours getting ready for each interview if you are to perform effectively. It’s taken you a lot of work to get you to that point, so don’t skimp at the critical stage. If you are genuinely well prepared for an interview you should be able to feel more confident - and potentially even enjoy it.
Firstly, it is important to know about an employer’s recruitment process, which does vary widely. Most commonly, once a job has been advertised and the deadline has closed, employers will create a short-list and successful candidates will be invited for interview and/ or assessment.
Ensure you know as much about the interview as possible: what format (panel; one to one, competency-based); who will be conducting it (research them via LinkedIn) and expected duration.
STEP 1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Make sure you understand the breadth of what the company does and what the job you are being interviewed for, requires from you. You must be fully prepared to answer any questions about the company and the job role. Nobody is expecting you to be an expert, but you must show the employer that you have done your research. We also recommend researching the interviewer/s so you know who you are talking to.
Find out our top things to research before stepping foot in an interview here.
STEP 2. IDENTIFY HOW YOUR SKILLS, QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE TRANSLATE TO THE ROLE
Make sure you have analysed the job description and the job’s requirements so you understand how your own skills and experience make the right candidate for the role. This will most likely be one of the questions an interviewer will ask - so make sure you know the answer!
If you completed our Choosing your career after the military workbook then revert back to practical exercise 1 where you identified your skills.
It is also worth taking the time to read through our article: 4 Most Sought-after Qualities That Make Veterans Outstanding Job Candidates to help you identify which of your skills are most transferable to the civilian workplace.
Working out the relevance of your military skills for a civilian job and then translating them into the language of a civilian employer can be one of the most challenging parts of your journey into civilian employment. We have found a number of veterans who believe that they don’t have the right skills and experience for a certain industry - when in fact, they are a perfect fit. The non-technical skills - the ‘soft skills’ - are seen by many employers to be a real strength of ex-military people and are just as important as technical skills or ‘hard’ skills.
In competency interviews you’ll be asked questions such as ‘Tell us about a time when…” or “Describe how you…”. So make sure you prepare some examples of how your skills & experience match those of the job.
Do some honest self-analysis and have a think about what hard and soft skills you have under your belt. Try to avoid a standardised list of skills ex-military are known for; identify those skills that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few pointers:
Try to use civilian rather than military language.
Try to avoid ‘bog standard’ military skills, such as communications and teamwork unless you have exceptional skills and can back them up.
List in order of relevance.
Your skills don’t always come from your jobs - you may have developed skills from additional courses you’ve done or activities that you do in your spare time, such as leading or participating in sports teams.
Look back over your work, studies or leisure activities and think about the skills you used to complete tasks.
Ask your colleagues and check your appraisals to see what attributes they see as your strongest.
Undergo a psychometric test. My World Of Work has a great tool to help you work out what your skills are, and where they can take you.
STEP 3. PREPARE AND REHEARSE
You must be prepared to answer, with confidence, a range of questions on yourself, the role, your skills and your career ambitions. Employers will be looking for evidence of your skills and how you have used them previously, so you will need to have a few examples up your sleeve. Competency-based interviews are a common way of assessing your professional abilities so make sure you’ve read up about them and know how to answer competency-based interview questions. Make sure you also download and fill in our interview workbook - it will walk you through the interview process and how to answer the the hardest interview questions.
Once you’ve prepared your answers it’s time to practice! When it comes to interviewing rehearsing is essential. It will make you feel calmer and it will also help you to hone your answers so that you come across as more confident. Try using our video interview practice tool to sharpen your answers before the big event.
STEP 4: BRAINSTORM SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK
At the end of an interview, an employer will ask if you have any questions. This is a great chance for you to show the employer you have done your homework - and prove you really want the job.
Be prepared for a two way conversation - don’t forget to think about the things you want to know about the company and the job. You can ask these questions to find out if this is the right company and right job for you.
Stuck trying to come up with questions? Get inspired with a shortlist of some of our favourite questions to ask at the end of an interview
STEP 5. GET ORGANISED FOR THE INTERVIEW
An interview will be the first time an employer is meeting you so it is important to dress the part, look clean and be tidily groomed. We advise you wear business attire - and make sure your overall appearance is professional.
Research which method of transport will be the most reliable for getting to the interview location - if possible recce the location beforehand and make sure you arrive at least ten minutes before your interview slot.
Switch your phone off and if possible, leave it in your car or coat pocket.
Ensure you take the required documentation. As a minimum it is advisable to take photo identification, a copy of your references and your education/qualification certificates.
Always take two copies of your CV. The interviewer should have it already but if they don't have it to hand, it looks great when you're able to hand them a copy and have one to reference yourself. Also print off a copy of the job description and highlight key points, make sure it is visible to the interviewer so they can see that you've done your research and highlighted the skills you have.
So you’re fully prepared - now it is time to showcase why you are the best candidate for the job. There’s a few really simple yet important things to remember when walking into that interview so be sure to read through our 10 Interview Tips to Make Sure You Get Hired.
Have you checked off everything on the list? Download our ultimate interview guide and workbook to take you through the process of preparing for a job interview.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
You won’t be successful at every interview but you can learn from them to improve for the next time.
Think about what went well & what didn’t. Where do you need help?
Most companies are more than happy to provide feedback on interviews so don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer when they let you know if you’ve been successful.
THE JOB OFFER
Up to the point an offer of employment is extended by a company, the balance of power is with them. They can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to you at any stage of the process – but the more time they spend on you, the more that balance begins to shift in your direction. Once the offer is made, the power shift is complete – now it’s your chance to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. So the first point to appreciate is that you are no longer a candidate – they want you, which gives you a degree of leverage. But don’t abuse that power! Be sure to run through our checklist before accepting a job offer to get help with making this crucial decision.
Then there’s the salary. Many people find conversations about salary extremely awkward but it is important to get it right. Remember, it is a routine conversation for HR people and they expect you to negotiate: so don’t be shy! To help you best prepare for the discussion, our careers consultants have produced a top tips guide full of advice on how to successfully negotiate your salary.