Perfecting the First Impression: Five Tips for a Successful Interview


Leadership. Integrity. Responsibility. Dedication.

These are key attributes of veterans and service members. As a former service member, I know firsthand that transitioning from service into a civilian job can be challenging. That's why, as the head of Citi's Veteran Recruiting Initiative, I'm proud to collaborate with veteran service organizations and Citi recruiters to educate transitioning service members on critical information for securing a career.

One of the main areas job candidates seek support is on the interview. So, here are five lessons I have learned over the years that make a great interview:

  • Know the Role: Before the interview, study the job description of the position you applied for and know how your skills match the company's needs. When asked why you are the right fit for the position, be sure to illustrate how you can have a positive impact on the team by using terms that imply you are already part of the team, like "us," "we," and "ours." If you do this while displaying your excitement when speaking, it will help reinforce the interviewer's ability to picture you in the role you are interviewing for.
  • Be Punctual: Arriving on time is key to a positive first impression. If you are late to the interview, the interviewer may be inclined to think that tardiness to the job could be a reoccurring issue. Plan to arrive 5-15 minutes early to ensure you are able to relax from your commute before the interview takes place. When unsure of how to get to the interview location, it is beneficial to do a practice run ahead of time to ensure confidence in the route.
  • Sell Yourself through Your Introduction: Greet the interviewer by making eye contact and a firm handshake. Smile, thank them for meeting with you, and let them know that you are excited about the opportunity. Leverage your "Elevator Speech" at this time. Remember, the goal is to have the interviewer picture you in the role you are interviewing for.
  • Listen Carefully: Interviews are about engagement. The more you interact with your interviewer, the more information can be exchanged. The interviewer will usually say what exactly they are looking for in an employee. Use this information to guide how you and your skills can fill that role. Help the interviewer picture you in the role as part of the team. Be sincere when speaking in terms of the future and successes you hope to achieve.
  • Ask Questions: Always be sure to ask the interviewer if they would like clarification regarding anything discussed or if they needed any additional information. Ask about the dynamics of the job, team, or the work place. Ask the interviewer what the next steps are in the hiring process and when should you hear back regarding your candidacy for the role.

These small adjustments can take a first impression to the next level, increasing the likelihood of a second interview or job offer.

To learn more about Citi's efforts to support veterans and their families, visit:

About Bruno Pell, Citi Veteran Recruiting

Bruno served in the US Air Force for 22 years and retired from the Air Force in 2011. With over 18 years of talent acquisition experience in both the military and civilian communities, Bruno possesses a unique set of qualifications to lead our veteran engagement program. As the head of Citi's Veteran Recruiting Initiative, his primary focus is to assist transitioning military members, veterans and their families, with skills preparation and employment readiness as they embark on a new journey in finding civilian career opportunities. Bruno and his team engage with veterans and veteran service organizations by offering training seminars, career coaching, and employment networking partnerships. He is the primary point of contact for Citi's Veteran Recruiting Initiative nationally.

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