USAA Tips: Steps to a great job interview

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Interview preparation is demanding work. Working at your current job, searching out additional opportunities, networking, and following up with contacts is time-consuming and can leave little time for interview preparation. Follow these steps to help you have a great interview.

Dress for The Job You Want. Professional dress for a job interview is necessary and it helps present yourself as a dedicated and serious candidate. For both men and women, dress in a comfortable, conservative, modern, and professional manner. Comfort is vital in business wear. If you aren’t comfortable, if you are hot or cold, then you will not be your best answering the interview questions. The first part of a great interview answer is looking the part.

Research Your Interview Panel. If possible, use LinkedIn, Google, and other online search tools to learn about your interviewers ahead of time, so you understand if they have a military background, their prior work experience, any recent publications or speaking, and their professional interests. The second part of a great interview answer is knowing your audience and their interests.

Bring Your Materials. Have extra copies of your resume, a portfolio with 2 pens, business cards, and any preparation notes for last minute study. Also bring a bottle of water to the interview just in case of a cough or thirst. The use of a portfolio to sketch an answer to a question or to write down follow-up questions is professional and invaluable.

Format Your Interview Question Answers. The use of a standard response format for interview questions is to make yourself memorable as a candidate while in the interview. A standard response format makes it easier for the interview panel to understand your skills, how your previous experiences will make you successful, and other attributes that you bring to the company.

The STARS (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Skills) format to answer interview questions is one of the most common.

  • Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work.

  • Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.

  • Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.

  • Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken.

  • Skills: Skills you used to be successful – includes both hard (technical) skills and soft skills (leadership, teaching, etc.).

  • A final summary line to reinforce your success and results for the question.