How to ace a job interview if you’ve just left the Armed Forces

After spending hours meticulously perfecting your CV in order to get a call back, the thought of attending a big interview can be daunting. It can be stressful if you’ve just left the Armed Forces and haven’t attended a job interview in years, or maybe ever. No matter what industry you hope to get into, there are steps you can follow in order to get your dream job


You know what they say, fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. Being organised for an interview can give you the edge over other candidates and make you look motivated and keen for the job. It can also help with nerves and give you more confidence. Make sure you research the company and the job you are applying for before you go to the interview. Employers will be impressed if you have background knowledge of the organisation and know about its values.

Leanne Wood, defence and engagement manager for Network Rail, suggests: “Take a look at the website, Glassdoor and LinkedIn to find out more about the company. A good career choice needs you to invest some time in research, and you’ll feel more prepared and con dent during your interview.”

Researching recent projects it has carried out, and identifying its strengths and weaknesses can also be a useful tool when attending an interview. You could be questioned on past and present projects and asked to give your professional opinion. Feeling prepared for an interview means you will be going in knowing that you are ready for whatever questions are thrown at you.


Making a good first impression during an interview can often be the difference between getting a job offer or not. Getting your interview etiquette right can ensure this is the case. Always start by dressing professionally: jeans and trainers should never make an appearance in your interview attire. Try and arrive approximately fifteen minutes early to your interview and make sure your phone is switched off.

When the interview begins, always greet the interviewers with a firm handshake, a smile and good eye contact. Maintaining eye contact throughout the interview will show them that you are interested and engaged in their questions. Remember to smile and act relaxed. “Be confident,” says Leanne. “The panel are looking for the right person but you should also use the opportunity to make sure that the job is right for you. This will help you relax and turns the interview into a conversation which both you and the panel can get the most out of.”

When asked questions, always allow the interviewer to finish speaking before you begin to answer and try to relate your answer back to the question as much as possible to show that you are listening and taking initiative. Make sure your answers tell the interviewer what they want to know, but try not to ramble. Once an interview is over, thank the interviewers for their time and consideration whether you think it went well or not.

Leanne says: “Ask questions, show an interest and if you really are interested in the job at the end of the interview then let the panel know.” If you have a contact email, then send them a thank you note for giving you the opportunity and to let them know you look forward to hearing from them soon.


Having served in the Armed Forces, you’re equipped with the skills that every employer is looking for. When asked questions about what makes you suited for a job in an interview, make sure you link your answers back to these qualities and how you gained them. Communication skills, the ability to work in a team and under pressure, problem solving and commitment are just a few of the skills any ex-Forces personnel can showcase to a prospective employer.

Giving examples of when you have put these skills to use can also be helpful. The skills you learned during your time in the Armed Forces shouldn’t be the only ones that you put forward in an interview. “We want to see the authentic, genuine you,” says Leanne. “We know this is the best way of finding out more about what you can offer as a candidate.”

Personal qualities and skills you gained outside of the workplace can help, and you can mention your hobbies, too. For example, if you’re a keen football player, this will further showcase your ability to work effectively as part of a team, albeit in a different environment. Good luck!

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