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Job Interviews

7 Interview Tips for Ex-Military Members

As you begin your search for a job after the military, you’ll have to begin interviewing with potential employers.

You’ll need to find ways to incorporate your previous military experience in a way that can apply to the corporate world. 

Here are seven tips to help have a successful interview and land a job after the military.

  • Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being prepared for an interview doesn’t mean you have to figure it out on your own. There are career services for veterans that can help with every part of the job hunt, from career assessments to resume writing.

Government or federal-related jobs are some of the most common career paths many veterans take after the military. Senior Executive Services (SES), for example, are high-ranking government positions that require an extensive interview process. There are companies that specialize in preparation for these types of interviews, they call it SES interview coaching. It can provide you with the preparation and confidence to successfully answer interview questions to land the position.

  • Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Going into an interview unprepared leaves your future up to luck. You want to prepare yourself with as much knowledge about the company you’re hoping to work for as possible.

Look through their website. Look at their social media accounts. Connect with individuals who work at the company on LinkedIn. Get familiar with their mission, values, services, and products.

It’s all about making a good first impression. A potential employer will see that you’re serious about the opportunity if you take the time to learn as much as you can about the company.

  • Dress Appropriately

This might sound simple, but dressing for the job you want can do wonders for the interview. It will give you greater confidence when you walk into the office.

Plus, it also shows a potential employer that you take this opportunity seriously. Avoid wearing jeans and a t-shirt and instead, aim for something more business casual. 

  • Translate Military Experience To Civilian Terminology

Everything you’ve done with your previous military background is incredibly pertinent to the jobs you’ll be applying for. But when you get into an interview, you may find yourself using words or phrases that may be common in the military field but not as relatable in the civilian world.

When it comes to your interview, think about ways you can translate your experience into the corporate world. For example, if you’re explaining your previous experience as a corporate officer, you may want to consider using language such as “management” or “leadership.”

A great way to do this is to read the job description thoroughly. Look for terminology they use when discussing the type of candidate they want to hire. Then, see how some of your previous experience could be translated into these terms.

  • Listen And Avoid Interrupting

The interview process can be nerve-wracking for many people. Your mind may wander as you’re thinking about what to say next. This is when it’s most important to practice active listening.

This is when you not only hear the words that the interviewer is saying, but understand the message they’re trying to get across. It’s a helpful way for you to stay present during the interview despite your nerves.

It also can help you avoid interrupting. This is one of the most common interview mistakes you can make. You need to have a level of respect for the interviewer.

  • Create A List Of Questions

At some point in the interview, they may want you to ask some questions about the company or the position. While you may be inclined to not ask anything further, it actually can be beneficial. It makes you an active participant in the conversation.

Remember, you’re not just interviewing for a job. It’s also a space for you to interview for the job to see if it’s a good fit for your needs.

Write down a list of questions you may want to ask in the interview. You can write these on a notecard or have them on a note on your phone.

  • Send A Follow Up Email

After the interview is complete, don’t just wait for them to get back to you. There may be a plethora of candidates they’re interviewing. If you want to set yourself apart, send a follow-up email.

This shows the hiring manager that you’re actively pursuing them and can set you apart from the other applicants.

A rule of thumb is to send the follow-up email within the first twenty-four hours of having the interview. Express gratitude for their time and restate your interest in the position.


Interviewing for a job after the military can seem daunting. But the most important thing you can do for any interview is to be prepared. Take time to practice potential interview questions.

Go through the job description more than once. Research what you can about the company. This will alleviate some of your nerves when going into the initial interview.

When in doubt, take a deep breath and be attentive with active listening.


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