The military gave you habits that will be great in an interview. You’ll look your interviewer in the eye, speak authoritatively, and be confident knowing you earned the right to be proud of your service. But there are some traits you’ve acquired in your service that will work against you.
Unless you know that the interviewer is also a vet, take “Roger,” all acronyms and any curse words out of your vocabulary. Doing so will help convince the interviewer that you could be a part of their team.
The military taught you to be humble, and while it’s still a great attribute, an interview is the place for you to seize the spotlight. Blow your own horn. No one else will. Give an example of how you led a team, solved a problem or met a challenge.
Failing to Engage
If you were meeting with someone senior to you in the military, your job would be to shut up and listen. That’s no good here. Prove you can fit in by carrying on a conversation. Ask questions. Don’t sit there like a bump on a log.
Assuming Civilians Understand
Connect the dots for interviewers—don’t just say you were a noncommissioned officer (no acronyms!). Tell them what that means: that you were a manager of X individuals on a day-to-day basis.
Do not just wing this. It might seem easy compared to some of the things you’ve done, but the military adage (PG version) applies here: Prior preparation prevents poor performance.
Failing to Smile
Being expressionless and rigid won’t win you any points. In this setting, think of yourself as a civilian and not a service member.