In my last post I gave an overview of how we will be breaking down the interview process to better help you prepare. All this preparation begins long before you walk into the interview.
Before you walk into the room, it’s imperative your head is in the right space and you’re able to enter the interview with the right attitude.
Michael Bolton is an example of what type of attitude to not have. Okay, so obviously we need to have a good attitude about the interview, but what does that mean?
Well the work starts before you even enter the room.
You certainly know what company you are interviewing with before you walk into the room. So your work starts there. Research the company. Find out what they do: what service they provide, what product they sell, what problem they solve. Are they public or private? Big or small? How long have they been around? Are there any interesting or controversial news stories about them? As you do your research, be sure to take down any questions you have that you’d like to ask in the interview. We’ll get to what types of questions to ask later, but the bottom line is, it’s important to have a few questions about the company to show your genuine curiosity.
Next, you probably know who you are interviewing with. Most of the time, the company recruiter/HR rep will give you a list of interviews and who you will be interviewing with. If they don’t, feel free to ask; if they know ahead of time, they’ll be happy to tell you. Sometimes you don’t know and that’s totally okay. However, if they do tell you, now it’s time to do some LinkedIn creeping. Don’t worry, this is not considered anywhere near as weird as Facebook creeping. In fact, if an interviewer notices you looked at their profile the day before your interview, it shows your interest and focus on preparation.
Now, there is a way to hide the fact that your viewing someone’s profile. We’ll cover that in a later series on leveraging LinkedIn, so you’ll have to wait on that. (Side note: you can easily google it or figure it out on your own, it’s not that complicated.)
Moving on – look up everyone you are interviewing with on LinkedIn. Sometimes people do not have a profile or it’s incomplete. That’s fine, just gather what information you can from their profiles. Look up what college they went to, where they have previously worked, how long they have worked at the current company, etc. Focus on anything you may have in common, as this can be a good way to connect with them in the interview. If they have been at the company for a long time, that makes for a great question to ask them why they have stuck around so long.
Doing this kind of research is more important than the research itself. It helps you build confidence in yourself before you begin the interview. And confidence is hard to fake, especially when the interviewer will be reading your body language. More often than not, they do a lot of interviews, and will be pretty good at figuring you out. So this isn’t an opportunity to feign confidence. Do your research in advance, and it will pay off later.
Maintaining confidence throughout the interview is key. As a veteran you are much more naturally likely to possess inner confidence – it’s certainly one of the traits the military instills in all of us. So it’s important to exude that confidence when interacting with a potential employer. Having said that, now is not the type to be in the same headspace as right before you’re about to go out on a convoy or mission. Do not be type-a, “alpha” (don’t even get me started on the “be alpha” bull shit), or any other type of over confidence. Be yourself. And if you’ve done your research and prepared properly, you’ll be more than confident enough. Confidence is important to the interviewer because they want to hire someone who can handle work independently at times and has the confidence to get the job done. Sometimes you won’t know the solution to a problem you are working on, but confident individuals know that while they may not have all the answers, they know they can work to figure them out.
If you come off as type-a, overbearing, etc. it will absolutely work against you. Companies in corporate America are not looking for people with that type of attitude. It’s totally fine to be gregarious, extroverted, and personable – if that’s how you naturally are. But do not be a type-a, overconfident asshole like so many people can be on active duty. If you’re a vet, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That type of personality or attitude will sink an interview very quickly.
Now that we’ve established what type of confidence is key, the next piece is to smile.
Copy The Rock’s smile…just don’t knock out the interviewer afterwards.
Smiling is contagious (that gif made you at least smirk, right?) and it makes you a more open and accepting person. Now don’t walk in their and smile like you did for your 3rd grade soccer photo. Make a natural smile like you do when it isn’t forced. This may sound silly but practice in the mirror the night before. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones with a creepy smile…definitely practice. It doesn’t have to be a huge smile either. Just a natural, open, and inviting smile. It will 100% set the right tone from the time you walk into the interview.
Now that your smiling up the place, you should naturally flow into being positive. Now is not the time to bitch about your old job or something you hated about the military. Now is the time to talk about how excited you are to meet with the interviewer and about the potential job and opportunity. I can’t overstate enough how important this factor is in your interview. Positivity is KEY.
You will likely be asked why you are getting out of the military. Remember to stay positive! We’ve all done our fair amount of bitching with our buddies. An interview is not the time to air your grievances with deployments, rankings, or the asshole CO you worked for. The best way to pivot your success on active duty to the civilian side is to talk about how you’re looking for more of a meritocracy based promotion system. You’re a results oriented person, and you want the opportunity to grow through delivering results. Focus on how your excited about what is next, not how you may have disliked what you didn’t like about the military.
Another note on this, do not talk about how you’re looking towards more time at home and less hours at the office – yes, you likely will work less hours (certainly more consistent); however, you don’t want to come off as someone who doesn’t work hard. Something like “a better work-life balance” is a better approach.
As you are interacting throughout the interview, here are two last pieces about maintaining a good attitude. First, you would think I wouldn’t have to say this but never ever fucking use cuss words during an interview. I do not care how many cuss words the interviewer has used (yes, it happens), that is absolutely not an invitation for you to do the same. You will gain nothing, but possibly lose everything by cussing. Keep. It. Clean.
Secondly, no sir’s or ma’am’s! As hard as it is, don’t do it. Always first names unless they specifically tell you otherwise. Remember, you’re trying to show them how you are ready to join their team, you don’t want them to think that you won’t be able to transition your mindset.
- Attitude starts with preparation
- Be Positive
- Don’t Cuss
- No Sir’s or Ma’am’s
You’ve got this!
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