Posted on Tuesday, 4th October 2016 by

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The personal interview is an important step in the job hunting process, one that could lead to a job offer or result in a rejection. It really is a make or break situation. With guidance and preparation you will ace the interview and become a happy new recruit when you hear the hiring manager say, “You’re hired!”


Every successful outcome presupposes preparation. Interviewing is no exception. It is not merely an event that takes place on a moment’s notice. Thoughtful preparation includes a thorough review of the job in question and the company, which will enable you to convey to the interviewer that you really want that specific job with that specific company. There is nothing that will kill an opportunity quicker than having the hiring manager conclude that you want just any job as long as it provides a paycheck. Companies hire candidates who show a passion for a specific job with that particular company.

While learning about the company, remember that it exists to make money or for the federal government to provided services. With companies, when they make more  money its business grows and more workers are hired. Learning about the employer’s finances is key or for federal government what services are provided. You can find this information on company or federal agency websites, in its annual report, and thorough a variety of online reports. Items you need to learn are: annual revenues for the past three to five years; the increase or decrease in the quarterly revenue for this particular quarter; and the increase or decrease in the price of the company’s stock if it is publicly traded. In addition, learn the number of company employees and the number of main competitors for the company’s products or services. For the federal sector determine the number employed, the largest employers, and the location of their facilities in your area. You can find this government information online. Having this information will help you through the interview process.

Proper Attire for an Interview

What to wear for an interview is something that troubles every female and male job candidate, military veterans and non-veterans, experienced workers or entry level workers. In fact, just today, I was prepping a candidate for a National Sales Director position and he asked what he should wear for an upcoming personal interview. This was an experienced worker in mid-career who had held several managerial positions. He had learned that the company was populated primarily with millennial-aged employees and that the culture was casual. I directed him to wear nothing less than upscale business-casual attire, which includes creased dress trousers, a blazer, a conservative shirt and tie, and leather shoes. If this had been an established conservative company I would have suggested a business suit.

You will never go wrong wearing business attire to an interview. This rule applies to both men and women. However, women have to put more thought into the process because there are more clothing choices for them. If in doubt about what to wear, google. “Attire for a personal job interview” and you will find all the information and pictures you will need to dress appropriately.  For more on attire, please review Chapter 27 of my book, Operation Job Search; A Guide for Military Veterans Transitioning to Civilian Careers. Female applicants can find helpful information on page 333 under the heading: Fail-Safe Dress for Female Veterans; Listen to Linda.

Using Civilian-Speak during Interviews

You may have heard this many times over, even in your TAP classes, but it is worth mentioning again. Speak using civilian language and avoid using military or local acronyms.  Research this beforehand and translate your military occupation specialty (MOS) if you are a veteran into civilian language. If you use military-speak, the majority of company interviewers will not understand because they lack military experience.

Controlling the Interview. Interrogation or Conversation?

Many interviews deteriorate into a Q-A session because the candidate believes the interviewer is holding all the aces. That is an erroneous assumption. The company is interviewing you because it needs workers to be productive, and you are interviewing because you need their job to make money to become self-sufficient.  Both the candidate and the interviewer are holding the aces.  Both have a critical need that needs to be resolved.

After the introductory pleasantries, most interviewers will throw this question at you. “Could you tell me something about yourself?” Answer that question in business terms, not personal terms. The interviewer is really not interested in knowing where you attended elementary school, where you took basic training or whether you like a cappuccino better than a latte. Your answer should go something like this. “I’m the kind of person who takes complete responsibility for my life. My career plan includes working in a position like the one stated in your job description and with a company in the transportation industry, like yours. By the way, I’m impressed with your job title and rank and would appreciate your telling me how you worked your way into your present position. Could you tell me something about your background and experience?”

What this response does is level the playing field. It lets the interviewer know that this will be a conversation, not an interrogation. Follow up by handing the interviewer a list of questions you have about the job and the company. Handle it this way. “I’ve prepared a list of questions for you indicating my interest in the job and company. My first question is: What do you consider the most important attribute for this job?”

Once the interviewer realizes that you have a plan and are not intimidated by the formal interview setting, you will be able to converse as equals. Above all, remember that the company is interviewing you because it has a critical need; to find a worker to fill an important job.

When the interview comes to an end, do not just say “thank you” and leave the premises. Ask for the job saying, “I’ve really enjoyed learning about the job, the company, and your personal background and experience. I would like to move forward to the next step in your process, which I hope will be a job offer. Can we schedule a follow up meeting to discuss compensation and a starting date?”


The broadly defined transportation industry includes employers involved in moving people and things from one place to another. Included in this industry are companies like FedEx, UPS, General Motors, Delta Airlines, Uber and United Van Lines. The industry employs millions of workers in the USA and abroad and offers many attractive, necessary and well-paying jobs. Contrary to the popular stereotype that transportation jobs are limited to driving a truck or piloting an airplane, this industry offers everything from hands-on jobs to IT management to President. It offers a variety of jobs for every worker. For example, truck driver jobs with Walmart command a starting salary of approximately $80,000 plus comprehensive benefits.

The interesting thing about transportation is that is ranks up there with the three basic survival industries; food, shelter and clothing. Every day the majority of workers need and use something from the transportation industry. Stop for a minute and ask yourself how you got to work today or how you plan to reach a company for an interview. Yes, the transportation industry will be one of the basic needs for as long as we live. So who are some of the best players in this industry? We have three favorites. Fed Ex, Southwest Airlines, and Union Pacific Railroad, all military friendly companies.


Federal Express Corporation, now referred to as FedEx, has become a household word. It is divided into three separate divisions each serving a specific need: FedEx Ground, FedEx Express and FedEx Freight. It is the world’ largest delivery service and 2016 revenue will be over $50 billion.  It is based in Memphis and has offices around the globe. It is a military friendly company and is noted for initiatives relating to diversity and inclusion in its workforce. FedEx was founded in 1971 by Fred Smith an Army veteran. When he separated and was looking for a job, he decided that someone needed to move packages from one place to another more quickly than the US Postal Service. He started an overnight delivery service in Memphis and the rest is history.

FedEx has something for everyone regardless of MOS or level of education. Check out the website now as I just did. I found jobs in different cities for dockworkers, technicians, drivers, arrival and departures clerks, and senior operations managers.  Remember to review the career pages dealing with military veterans.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest continues to be one of the most profitable airline companies. It is noted for its customer friendly service and a unique company culture. Employees like working there and customers like traveling Southwest, an unbeatable combination for sustained growth. The company is based in Dallas but has offices throughout the country and provides every imaginable type of job for workers at every level, entry through senior. Southwest is noted for its charitable giving and community outreach. When I checked the website, I found a wide array of jobs in airport operations and call centers, and for flight attendants, aircraft maintenance technicians, and pilots.

Union Pacific Railroad

Railroad companies are often overlooked by workers seeking long term careers in the transportation industry. One of the best is Union Pacific Railroad, which employs over 43,000 workers and generates annual revenue in excess of $20 billion. At Union Pacific you will find job opportunities that go well beyond those with high visibility like train conductors and ticket sellers. Behind the scene, Union Pacific employs workers in sales, marketing, technology, maintenance, engineering and human resources just to mention a few. UP offers special training for transitioning veterans and over 20% of its workers are military veterans. In addition, it has donated over $200,000 to Wounded Warriors over the past two years. Its recruiters sponsor job fairs and are in contact with all military transition and education offices.  Union Pacific is hard to beat when you are looking for a military friendly employer.

Association of American Railroads (AAR)


Interviewing is an important part of the job hunting process. There is much to learn beyond our abbreviated discussion and I suggest that you review Chapters 27-31 in my book OPERATION JOB SEARCH, listed below. In addition we suggest that you read all of Part Four, The Interview Process, in the The Book of U.S Government Jobs by Dennis Damp.

In our November article we will discuss continuing education at bricks and mortar schools and online schools. Our INDUSTRY SPOLIGHT will focus on the robust security industry.


  • Control the interview.  Do not let it become a Q-A session.
  • You and the company need each other to be successful.
  • Present a written list of questions and concerns to the interviewer.
  • Use civilian language during the interview and avoid military acronyms.
  • Always wear business attire for personal interviews.


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The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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