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You only get one chance to make a first impression, and that’s what interviews are all about. Present yourself as a professional person who is right for the job. Follow these do’s and don’ts to leave a great lasting impression on your interviewer.
DO use this as an opportunity to sell yourself. Decide how you’ll self-promote before the interview by preparing an elevator pitch—a two-minute rundown of your background, the type of job you’re looking for, and what you can bring to their company.DON’T memorize your elevator speech to the point where it sounds too rehearsed—it should be relaxed and natural.
DO your research. Learn the company’s mission statement, history and core values.DON’T just read the company’s website—expand your research to include a Google search to see if they’ve been in the news lately. You’ll want to be able to talk about the company and any goings-on fluently.
DO familiarize yourself with the responsibilities of the position you’re interviewing for by reading the job description thoroughly.DON’T undersell yourself. Explain how your skill set matches up with opportunities at the company and why you’d be a good fit there.
DO play up your military background and the skills you gained during service, such as leadership, teamwork and discipline. Prepare a few stories from your experience that are applicable to the job.DON’T give the impression that you’re stuck in the military mindset. Instead, explain how you can adapt your service training to a civilian workplace.
DO make a list of the most common questions asked during interviews, and tailor them to the job. Also, prepare a list of questions about the job and company to ask the interviewer.DON’T interrupt anyone who is speaking, and avoid rambling answers. Being polite and a good listener is key.
DO greet you interviewer with a firm handshake while maintaining eye contact.DON’T smoke before an interview and never chew gum during the meeting.
DO bring positive energy and show enthusiasm.DON’T project negativity. Try to put a positive spin on your answers to keep the tone upbeat.
DO dress professionally and appropriately. If you’re unclear what the company dress code is, ask when your interview arrangements are made. Make sure your clothing is pressed and clean, and pay attention to personal hygiene.DON’T wear revealing clothing or strong cologne or perfume.
DO bring extra copies of your resumes.DON’T take other materials unless they were requested by your interviewer in advance.
DO a test drive the day before your interview to see how long it takes to get there. Have directions, toll payments and everything sorted out before. On the day of your interview, give yourself extra time for traffic and parking, and aim to arrive at least 15 minutes early. Keep your car clean so that you pull up in a tidy vehicle—every impression counts!DON’T be late. But if something happens, call to explain why you’re delayed and when you expect to arrive.
DO take notes on your conversation and get contact information for everyone you meet during the interview. Ask when you can expect a decision about the next step so that you know when to follow up.DON’T bring up salary unless they address it first. Learn about their full benefits package before sharing your expectations, and give it as a range.
DO send an email or personalized, handwritten thank you note to everyone you met with during the interview within one to two days.DON’T forget to follow up with any additional information that you promised to provide during the interview.
Download Heroes Get Hired, a free ebook on using your military experience to impress interviewers and land a great job.
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