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Congratulations, your resume was noticed, read, and met the guidelines that the organization you applied to was looking for, which resulted in YOU getting an interview. Get your victory dance over with quickly, because you still have work to do!

What does the interview mean?  It means you’re one step closer to getting that job, so it’s time to start thinking ahead for the interview.

Interviews can be intimidating and nerve racking, if you are not prepared! So how do you handle interview nerves?  Remember that you are not alone. Just about everyone gets nervous before and during a job interview. Even people who have been interviewing for years and even for the folks conducting the interview.

Here are some tips that can help calm your nerves so you will excel and shine in the eyes of the interviewers – even if you’re still feeling some jitters, which is normal for us all.

Here are some tips that you can do ahead of time to set yourself up for success for you interview.

  1. Research the company/organization you applied too:
    • Learn as much as you possibly can about the company/organization’s history.
    • See if you can learn anything about their corporate culture from their social media accounts?
    • Have they been in the news for anything lately? If so and the news is positive, store that in the back of your mind and have that info ready to go in case a question is ask – What do you know about our company? If the news you researched is negative, do not bring it up during the interview unless you are asked.
    • Go to their website and review.
  2. Know what you are going to wear to the interview:
    • Figuring out what you will be wearing will take a major issue off your mind.
    • Take this time to be sure that your outfit is cleaned and pressed, shoes are shined, and you are well groomed.
    • Make sure you have brushed your teeth and breath is fresh, finger nails are clean.
    • If you wear a suit/business attire to a trades type occupation job, be sure to have in your vehicle a change of clothes, any required safety gear required for the job, in case you are asked to demonstrate your skills on a piece of equipment or using special tools.
    • Be sure your tattoos are covered, no facial piercings.
    • No cell phone, either turn it off, or leave it in your vehicle.
  3. RECON, RECON, RECON where you are going for your interview, PRIOR to your Interview:
    • Take the time to drive the route you will take prior to the day of your interview.
    • Keep in mind the time of your interview and Recon your route during that time frame. This will allow you to know what type of traffic you will encounter the day of your interview.
    • Take note of the parking situation, is there plenty, do I need to park off site, do I have to pay for parking?
    • Walk into the building where your interview is taking place to see if there is security to pass through, what floor is the interview on, where on that floor am I going?
    • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your interview time.
    • The day of you interview, remember your interview starts the moment you drive on the property. Be polite to people you encounter in the parking lot, in the building as you never know who you are talking to and the role they may play in the company.
  4. Your talking points and potential questions:
    • It is a good idea to review the job description and remind yourself of your experiences and skill sets that merge with what the company is looking for from you in this role.
    • Practice interviewing with someone else and see if you can move them into a conversation. Your ultimate goal when you are in an interview is to not only answer the questions that the interviewer asks, but also, to build rapport and potentially move the interview into a seamless conversation.  People hire people they like.
    • Contact the Department of Labor in your State for mock interview classes you can attend to practice, and the services are free to you.
    • You more than likely will be asked to tell something about yourself, be prepared to briefly tell them about you, who you are, what your skills are, your experience, etc. Remember, they want to get to know you, and want to be sure you’re a good fit for their company and culture.
    • Beware of you body language while in the waiting area before your interview.
    • Smile: Spend a few moments rehearsing your interview smile in the mirror each night before you go to bed. Work on your most confident, pleasant smile, and be ready to break it out for every person you meet the day of the interview (people in parking lot, receptionists, assistants, interviewers).
  5. Review the resume you submitted for this position:
    • Even though you reviewed your resume before you applied for the job, review it again prior to the interview.
    • Be prepared to answer questions pertaining to your skills sets and experience you listed on your resume, as well as educational background. (Hopefully everything on your resume is accurate and true)
    • Remember, you are the ambassador of yourself, your work as well as your personal achievements. Know what is on that resume.
  6. Your References:
    • Be sure that you ask your references if they are comfortable being your reference.
    • Don’t offer your references at the interview until you are asked for them.
    • Let you references know when you have an interview. Tell them about the job you have applied to and the key things you would like them to share about you if given the opportunity.
    • Remind your references to answer their phone professionally as there may be someone from the company calling them.

A few bonus tips:

  • Make a list of your successes, you may be asked to talk about these.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses (it will be asked).
  • Know a failure of yours and how you overcame that failure, this could be your weakness.
  • You need to know who you are, so you can tell them who you are.
  • Be careful of what you have posted on your own social media outlets.
  • Create some work history success stories and be ready to talk about them.

REMEMBER: The work you do prior to your interview, will certainly help you successfully handle their questions as well as help you relax enough to listen to what they say to you without all those nerves getting in the way. Practice and Preparation makes for a clear mind and allows you to focus better on getting that job!  Best of Luck!

About the author

Mark Cater is currently the director of talent acquisition for Military Talent Source. Mark retired as State Recruiting Sergeants Major (SGM) and served in the Army/Army National Guard for a total of 26 years. Prior to coming to MTS, Mark worked as a Veterans Representative for the Department of Labor and State Coordinator for the Military Family Program.

Read more about Mark

Military Talent Source matches veteran talent with career opportunity. We are a specialized recruitment process outsourcing firm that conducts military recruiting and veteran employment consulting as a full focus. Whether we are working with businesses or organizations to build veteran-friendly hiring solutions or out on the road meeting with separating veterans at transition sites around the country, we are constantly striving to help businesses recruit and retain veteran talent.

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