Three Things Hiring Managers Look for When Interviewing Military Veterans

Interviewing Military Veterans

You did it! You presented yourself well on paper and beat those applicant tracking systems with a killer military-to-civilian resume and cover letter that landed you an in-person interview. Now, it’s time for you to bring your dream career home. With less than 8% of the U.S. population being veterans, this unique demographic faces many difficulties as they prepare for civilian interviews with hiring managers in the private sector.

Although hiring is a process for any individual, whether military or civilian, recruiters and decision makers are aware that veteran recruiting is unlike walking through the employment steps with a civilian who has no military experience.

Today, Empire Resume will outline three aspects of interviewing that hiring managers seek when placing military veterans into the civilian workforce.

1. An Informed and Interested Candidate

According to Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites, 88% of decision makers say that an informed candidate is a quality candidate. Being someone who is informed is the number one trait many hiring managers look for when interviewing candidates. 

As we know, veterans make good employees. So how do you know if you’re a quality candidate so you can join the ranks of the best of the best employees?

Hiring managers surveyed by Glassdoor indicate that an informed candidate is:

  • Prepared for the interview;
  • Knowledgeable about the job role; and
  • Have the right expectations about pay and benefits.

Informed candidates do their research on the company by searching social media, and the company website. They also have no problem demonstrating the right experience to complete the missing piece of the puzzle for hiring managers.

Finally, informed candidates ask relevant questions about the company culture or structure to see how they will fit in.

As a veteran, you may not have been able to question certain decisions pertaining to operations while in service.

However, you are interviewing your potential employer as well to make sure they are a right fit for you. So, the interview is prime time for being curious.

Asking questions during your interview is how you show your interest in the role and, according to Frank Rivera, director of military and veteran affairs at New York Institute of Technology, communicate the potential benefit of your experience to the employer.

According to Rivera, these questions should include:

  • How many military affiliated personnel does your organization employ?
  • Does your organization have a clear and defined structure?
  • How do you see my military experience and education contributing to the company’s long and short-term goals?

During your interview, make sure you take time to focus on the company. Make it about them and show what you can bring to the table.

You want to make the hiring manager’s job simple and leave such an impression that he or she walks away knowing that you are the best person to fill the position.

2. Your Powerful Story

Interviewing Military Veterans

One of the many challenges veterans face during interviews is highlighting their own achievements.

Service members are trained to accomplish tasks and missions as a team. It’s normal for veterans to struggle with speaking about their role and how they made an impact while seeking civilian jobs after separating from military service.

Hiring managers want to hear your unique story. They’re most interested in what you’ve done and why you wanted to serve the country in the first place. This helps them build a bridge to understanding who you are and it also provides them with direct insight into your character.

To be sure that you’re prepared for your civilian interview, you want to quickly translate your answer to the “tell me about yourself” interview question into a relatable story and language so the hiring authority can easily make a connection with you.

3. Do You Fit In?

During the interview, it’s okay to show some personality. Of course, you should be in a calm state of mind, but your job interview shouldn’t be dull and boring.

Remember, it’s difficult for anyone, specifically a decision maker, to see who you are based off of a resume and cover letter.

The hiring manager wanted to meet you one on one, so use this time to build a rapport and establish a professional relationship, while letting your personality shine through.

But be mindful of your tone and body language. Nonverbal signals are just as important in the art of communication. You do not want to be perceived as cocky or even as a comedian. Be yourself, while maintaining professionalism.

At the end of the day, the hiring manager wants to know whether they like you, if can they work with you on a daily basis, and whether you’ll fit in with the rest of the team.

The Wrap Up: What Hiring Managers Look for In Interviews

Well, there you have it. Hiring managers are waiting to hear your story, they’re looking for you to be informed and interested, and want to make sure you are a good fit for the company.

While there’s more that can be said about what hiring managers look for, these three tips will make for a successful civilian interview.

If these have helped you in any way, come back here to let us know. We’d love to hear about your success and your new career.

To discover more about what hiring managers look for in interviews, review our career resources blog or contact the Empire Resume career professionals at 801-690-4085 or

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

Interviewing Military Veterans

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