Preparing For A Job Interview
Posted by Navy Diver

After you leave the military, if you choose not to go back to school or start your own business, you may decide to look for salaried work.  Invariably, the search for a salaried (or wage) position means scheduling a job interview. Preparing for a job interview is a full time job in its own right.  You should treat your preparation for an interview the same way as any military mission.  You should divide your interview into three distinct phases:

  • Preparation
  • Mission Execution
  • Follow-up

Interviewing is by no means an exact science.  You can be completely prepared, have a perfect interview and even be seriously considered for a job, and yet not succeed at the end.  Many times a job falls through for reasons out of anyone’s control, including budget cuts or corporate bankruptcy.  No matter what happens, the most important item to remember in all this is to take nothing personal.  If you get offered a job, congratulations.  If you do not get offered a job, move on, as there are a lot of opportunities out there.


Start by reviewing all publicly available information (especially websites) about the company or organization with which you are interviewing.

Then read the biographies of everyone with whom you will interview. Companies usually provide the names of all individuals scheduled to talk with you.  If you do not have the names, it is worthwhile asking the company’s hiring coordinator to provide the names.  Good biographical information can be found on major social networking sites and sometimes on company websites.

Research and understand everything you can about the job to which you are applying. Have so much knowledge that you can reassure the interviewer of your ability to perform the job.

Review your resume. Be able to answer questions on anything that is written on your resume.

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Mission Execution

On the day before your interview:

  • Gas up your car
  • Get your interview clothes ready
  • Charge your cellphone
  • Confirm location address (and map your directions to get there)
  • Review all your preparation notes
  • Print several extra copies of your resume (to hand to interviewers just in case) and place them in a briefcase along with a notepad, pen and your business cards

On the day of your interview:

  • Arrive early and check in
  • Once you arrive, turn off all your electronic equipment
  • Be prepared to discuss a wide variety of topics and questions with your interviewers
  • Take notes when necessary
  • Thank your interviewers and give each of them your business card


  • Send a brief thank you email to the recruiting team
  • If the company reimburses your interview expenses, send receipts
  • Keep looking for other employment opportunities – this process repeats itself until you find a job that satisfies your goals.

Possible Interview Questions

Prepare answers to the following questions.  Your interviewer will likely ask some of these questions.  The more you prepare, the greater chance of you succeeding at the job interview.  Remember, these questions are not all-inclusive, and the interviewer may ask you about topics not covered here.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  2. Why are you interested in this particular job?
  3. What are your weaknesses?
  4. What do you like to do in your spare time?
  5. What is your preferred work environment (i.e. part of a team or working individually)?
  6. How do you handle stressful situations or conflict?
  7. How do you stay organized?
  8. What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in life?
  9. Describe a time when you overcame a major obstacle and provide the steps you took to accomplish the task.
  10. Describe one major past success and one past failure.
  11. What separates you from other potential candidates for this job?
  12. Why are you leaving your current position?

These are pretty standard questions and preparing answers beforehand can help make your interview go more smoothly.  When you answer these questions and any that comes your way during the interview, try to avoid the trap of answering what you think the interviewer wants to hear.  Your goal is to land a job in an environment that will make you happy.  If your honest self won’t get you hired at this particular job, then you likely won’t be happy at work on a day-to-day basis anyway.

A Note on Bad Interviews

It is easy to forget that the person sitting across the desk is just a regular individual like everyone else.  Since they hold the keys to your potential future employment, they can often receive an unearned air of invincibility.  Sometimes that invites nonsense behavior from interviewers as well.

There was a time when I tolerated rude behavior from interviewers – whether it was them being unprepared, distracted, or just plain condescending.  My thought at the time was if I played it smooth, they may hire me regardless.  Do you know how many job offers I received from companies where I interviewed with rude people?


And now that I am a little older and grumpier, I also know that I would never want to work for those companies anyway.  So the days of my time being wasted by individuals with intolerable behavior are over.  It does not mean that I am rude to them back.  It simply means I will politely end the interview and walk out of the building.

So be professional in your interactions with interviewers, but there is no need to put them on a pedestal.

Happy job hunting and may you find a career that is rewarding.

SSGT NICHOLS: Serve Your Country.

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