6 Things Veterans Should Have Ready for a Job Interview

(Traci Boutwell/U.S. Army photo)

A job interview is the time to put your best foot forward to show the hiring manager that you're not just capable of filling the job; you're also someone who would be a good fit for the team.

Interview success starts with a clean professional appearance and attitude. There's a lot more you should bring to the interview than just a firm handshake and extra copies of your resume. Here are a few things you'll want to have ready as you go in for that big meeting.

1. A Concise Personal Statement

The first thing an interviewer is likely to ask is the simplest of talking prompts: "Tell me about yourself." This is not the time to dish about how great a dancer you are or wax prosaically about summers in Ohio. It's time to show the interviewer that you can communicate ideas clearly and concisely.

Instead, consider how the president or CEO of a company might respond. You want to give a very brief professional summary of your experience and goals. You can feel free to show some personality through your tone -- and you can do that throughout the interview .

2. A Positive Attitude

Speaking of personality, a good attitude is always highly desirable. Sure, you might be knowledgeable, but are you someone people would want to work with? There are a lot of qualified people for any job, so what makes you the right choice?

Based on your resume and cover letter, the interviewer thinks you are a qualified candidate for the job. Otherwise, you wouldn't have made it to the interview stage. Sometimes, being someone with the right attitude makes the difference between a job offer and "we'll call you."

3. Managed Expectations

Employers don't like turnover. When they hire a new employee, they are looking for someone whose career goals align with the company's objectives, because a well-aligned employee is going to invest their time and effort into their new role, along with every role thereafter.

It's important not to take a job without asking about the things that mean the most to you. Whether you care more about salary, benefits, vacation time, commute distances or upward mobility, you need to be honest with the employer and yourself.

4. Real Answers

Speaking of honesty, a recruiter, hiring manager or headhunter meets hundreds of people for every open position. Those who have been in a hiring role for a long time will develop a sixth sense for people and can sniff out a false answer or misrepresentation fairly quickly.

The age-old question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" might be a little difficult to answer on the spur of the moment, so it's important to prepare for the interview by reviewing some of those infamous "gotcha" questions recruiters are known for -- and to be honest in your answer.

5. Questions of Your Own

Whenever an interviewer or recruiting panel asks, "Do you have any questions for me/us?", the answer should always be yes. If you feel that asking about job benefits or salary might be a little too much for the first interview, that's fine. There are always other questions you can ask.

Read: How to Prepare Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

Take notes while you do research for the interview. Researching the company is always a good idea. If you know who you'll be meeting, research them, too. Ask about the company's mission; ask the interviewer why the company was a good fit for them. The important thing is to be engaged and invested in the company, and that all starts before you walk in the door.

6. Confidence

Exuding confidence when you're one candidate among potentially hundreds isn't always easy, but it's a necessity. You want to come into any job interview meeting the expectations of those who might be hiring you. And let's face it: Veterans are expected to be leaders. This expectation might even be the reason you got an interview over someone else just as qualified.

Put yourself in their shoes. The company ideally wants someone who is impressive, confident, bright and capable. They may have chosen a veteran for these qualities on top of the potential leadership ability.

So give the people what they want.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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