Performing at the Interview

Part 6

By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.

Part 6 of Veteran Employment Series

As I said in Part 5 of this series, the most intense component of an employment search is the interview. In that article, I mentioned ways to prepare for employment interviews that Veterans might be able to relate to, in an effort to ease the anxiety that many people have about interviews. But I didn’t venture into how to perform at the interviews themselves.

Each person has their own style and personality. So, unfortunately I can’t give the “One True Guide” to interviewing. But here are some tips that should generally be adhered to for interviews:

Showing up

When Veterans arrive at an interview, it is important to arrive a few minutes early. I suggest arriving 10-15 minutes prior to your interview. Any more than that, and you risk looking foolish and any less than that, you risk being late. Veteran interviewees should arrive showered, clean shaven, in clothes that are clean and neatly pressed. Suits are fine if they fit you properly, and are appropriate for the position that you are interviewing for. A too baggy, too tight or wrinkled suit could be detrimental to your interview. If you don’t have a suit that fits you properly, wear slacks, polished dress shoes, and a shirt and tie or neat collared shirt.

Do not arrive late, hung-over, smelling like booze or smoke, in  wrinkled or dirty clothes, wearing too much cologne/perfume, or dressed like you’re going to a club.

What to bring

Men and women should arrive with only one professional bag. This can be a briefcase, laptop case, professional looking satchel or a large purse. Veterans will need the bag to carry the following: at least three extra résumés, two printed copies of at least three references that are not related to you (provide: name, phone, address, relationship), a copy of your DD-214 (NOT the original), copies of any awards, medals/certifications that you received in the military, social security card, driver’s license/ID, any degrees, licenses, certifications or qualifications that will help you land this job, a professional notebook for taking notes and at least three pens. I recommend three pens because nothing makes you look more unprepared than not having something to write with, and being able to offer one to your interviewer, should the need arise, will make you look that much more desirable.

Veterans should also bring:

A smile­– Smiles exude confidence and can show that you are a friendly person. Remember, besides your qualifications, interviewers are looking at you to see if you are someone that they would want to work with. Be friendly and genuine, but at the same time, be respectful.

Good Manners­– Being polite, having good posture and saying please and thank you are included in this. But it also means no swearing and no trash talking your former employers.

What to say

As a general rule, just relax and answer the interviewer’s questions. If you prepared for the interview, you have researched the company and position. Answer questions truthfully, and try your best to be personable with the interviewer. Try your best to use the interviewer’s name when answering. You should always start the interview by calling the interviewer Mr. Ms, or Mrs. And their last name. Let them correct you to use their first name, if they choose.

Veterans who practice their interviews have the best chances and best rates of success. I recommend that all Veteran employment seekers visit their local Veteran centers and colleges to see when they offer interview workshops. I also recommend utilizing the employment tips available on