How to impress your interviewers and land the job

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To impress an interviewer, you must distinguish yourself from other candidates and be prepared to ‘sell’ your qualifications to the interviewer. In my sixteen years’ experience with coaching military members,many have told me, “Melissa, I’m not comfortable with selling myself.” Or, “I don’t like to boast about myself.” My response to them is “modesty goes out the window.” (See my article on being modest in an interview on this site). You don’t have to necessarily brag-there’s a fine line between selling your value and bragging.

How can you do this?

Candidates’ experience and credentials, as detailed in the resume, are most often the frequently used criteria for determining which job
candidates are deserving of a personal interview. Ultimately though, the hiring decision is going to be heavily based upon the candidate’s
performance in the interview and his/her value to the organization.

Present a polished professional image

Remember that professional companies are looking to hire professional individuals. Dress conservatively in a well-fitting suit and keep
jewellery, makeup, and fragrances to a minimum. For men, empty your pockets of change (playing with change is a common turn-off about male
candidates). Female candidates should show some modesty by not exposing cleavage of low-cut blouses.

Spend some time to research the organization prior to the interview

Doing outside research on your own time to prepare for the interview demonstrates your commitment to hard work and your sincere interest in
the organization. Study the company’s products and services, industry, target market, annual sales, structure, mission statement and any other
key information. Go one step further and gather competitive intelligence (see my article on this site).

Managers will be impressed by your research.

Prepare specific examples of how your skills and experience make you a strong fit for the organization’s needs. One technique is to develop STAR stories.

STAR stories stand for:

-a situation you encountered in your military career that is relevant to the job for which you are interviewing

-a task you accomplished

-the action you took to resolve a majob problem

-the result and positive outcome of the problem or situation that you experienced

Practise answering tough, directed questions about your experience and be prepared to draw parallels between your experience and the needs
of the organization. For example, if the position requires strong analytical skills, you should have example of a story that clearly
demonstrates your strong analytical skills. Have you faced any challenges that forced you to think quickly on your feet? How did you
evaluate alternatives when you had to justify a decision on a project?

Prepare and ask intelligent questions about the company and position Your research on the organization will also come in handy when it
comes time to formulate a series of intelligent questions you want answered. Since the interviewing process is an evaluation tool for both
the individual and the organization, it is in your best interest to gather as much information about the potential opportunity as possible.
Asking well thought-out questions shows that you are serious about the opportunity at hand and indicates the level of your knowledge about the
company to the interviewer.

Pay attention to your body language. Different studies show that 87-90% of our communication is non-verbal.

You want to exude self-confidence and poise during an interview. 

Maintain eye contact, smile pleasantly, and keep your body attentive but relaxed throughout the meeting. Avoid fidgeting, clearing your throat,
and breaking eye contacts-these are all signs of an anxious person.

Conclude the meeting by thanking the interviewer for his/her time and shaking his hand.

End the interview on a strong positive note by thanking and acknowledging the time the interviewer spent meeting with you. It’s
important that interviewer knows that you value his time.

Write a quick “Thank You” message to the individual(s) who interviewed you. (SHOCKING fact: only less than 5 % of job seekers write a thank you letter after an interview!)

It only takes a few minutes to pen a “Thank You” note to an interviewer; this gesture speaks volumes about your professionalism and the importance you place on good customer service. If you treat the interviewer with gratitude and respect, you are likely to treat your co-workers and customers equally well. This concept is what as known as “behavioural interviewing.” In other words, interviewers will often look at your previous professional behaviour to assess your future performance in the job.

Need a credentialed coach to help you prepare for interviews and develop powerful hiring strategies? Email me at or book a career strategy session on this site.

Melissa C. Martin 

Bilingual military to civilian career coach


Linkedin group: military to civilian employment

Follow me on Twitter @melissacmartin

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