Interviewing skills for veterans

Many veterans who transition to civilian life face the challenge of attending job interviews. This can be especially difficult for those struggling with mental health issues.

The good news is that there are several techniques you can use to help you interview successfully and get the job.

In-depth research

Do as much research as you can about the job, the organisation and the interview itself. Most job ads contain detailed job specifications. Compare their requirements to your experience to see if it's a good fit.

Many veterans develop skills in service that are extremely valuable on the job market. Read our guide about transferring your Service skills to the civilian job market.

Your CV is your chance of making a good impression before even sitting down for the interview. Make sure it is well written, accurate and it highlights your experience. Read our guide on how to write your CV.

You should also research the company. Visit their website and any other resources you can find about them. If possible, try to talk to people who worked or are working there. This will help you talk confidently about the organisation and will demonstrate that you have put in the effort.

Make sure you know exactly when and where the interview is going to take place, and that you know how to get there. If you're unsure about any of this, you should contact the organisation and ask for directions.

Personal preparation

Your answers should address your experience in the Armed Forces, and the skills you can bring to the table. The more you've practised questions, the more confident and free-flowing your speech will be during the interview. Our partners run employment workshops where you can practice interview questions and techniques.

We recommend you wear a smart casual outfit. This is standard for interviews and is accepted in any environment (unless your research clearly informs you otherwise). Do not put on excessive body spray or perfume and do not have lots of jewellery on.

Organisations such as Career Transition Partnership (CTP) (0203 162 4410) help veterans prepare for civilian life and the job market for up to two years after discharge.

RFEA The Employment Charity (0121 262 3058) provide help to veterans for the rest of their working life. They can offer further support with interview preparation.

Communication skills

Listening is a key communication skill. Listening carefully to what the interviewer has to say will help you answer more clearly. Focusing on what the interviewer is saying will help you pick up clues that you can use to your advantage later in the interview.

Make sure you avoid distractions such as mobile phones during the interview.

Build a dialogue with the interviewer. Your interviewer may be interviewing a number of people in a short period. This process is exhausting and requires concentration. Engage your interviewer and ask questions that can build a dialogue and help them relax as well.

Do not settle for just being 'interrogated', but actively engage with your interviewer in a way that highlights your sincerity, humbleness and your confidence.

Express confidence through non-verbal communication. Research has shown that first impressions are based on tone of voice and body language, rather than what is actually said. If your body posture, voice, and gestures express confidence and respect, interviewers will perceive you as a more confident, valuable candidate.

Get further help and support with employment at Veterans' Gateway.

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