In the third of our ‘How to’ series, we asked Sarah Peñaluna, Families Employment Advisor at Forces Employment Charity, for some tips on interviews…

It’s been ages since I’ve done an interview, how do I prepare?

Jumping back into interviews after a break can feel like a bit of a climb. Take a look at some strategies, especially crafted for military spouses and partners like yourself.

1. Positive self-affirmations can help shift your mindset towards a more positive and confident outlook. Before the interview, repeat statements that highlight your skills and experiences.

2. Take advantage of one-to-one support from an expert employment adviser specifically dedicated to supporting military families at Forces Employment Charity. We’re here to provide you with personalised interview support and techniques.

3. Recognise transferable skills you’ve developed as a military spouse, such as adaptability, teamwork, communication, resilience, leadership and problem-solving. Highlighting these skills will not only showcase your strengths but also boost your confidence in your ability to contribute to a workplace.

4. Researching the company is key, familiarising yourself with the company’s mission, values, products/services, and recent news. This knowledge will help you tailor your responses and demonstrate your genuine interest.

5. Knowing the key responsibilities and requirements of what the job demands is crucial. Be prepared to chat about how your skills and experiences align with the job description.

6. Anticipating the common questions that you could be asked in interview like “tell me about yourself,” “why should we hire you?” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” are important to perfect as you only get a short window of time to align how you’re best suited for the job.

7. Craft a brief and compelling introduction that summarises your background, key skills and what you’re seeking in a job. This is useful for the “tell me about yourself” question.

8. Familiarise yourself with any recent trends or developments in the industry. This shows that you are proactive and well-informed. You can do this with general research, networking and attending relevant events.

9. Preparing thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer demonstrates your genuine interest in the position.

10. Rehearse your answers, this helps build confidence. Practise answering common interview questions, focusing on behavioural questions. This will help you refine your responses and become more comfortable with the interview format.

Should I mention that I’m a military spouse/partner? How do I explain the gaps in my CV from all our military moves?

Sharing that you’re a military spouse actually highlights qualities like adaptability and resilience. If it feels right for your job search and helps explain those CV gaps from all those moves, don’t hesitate to bring up your role as a military spouse/partner.

The trick is to show your experiences as a superpower, not a setback. Loads of employers understand and value the unique skills that military spouses can bring. Tell your story in a positive way, connect it to what the job needs, and you’ll be addressing any worries about employment gaps tied to military moves. It’s about showing your dedication to growing professionally and making a real impact in the organisation.

Any top tips for answering interview questions, such as “where do you want to be in five years’ time?”

Let them know about your skills, tie your goals to what the company is all about, and show them how being a military spouse makes you a real asset. Let your ambition shine through, talk about how adaptable you are, and make it clear that you’re all about growing professionally. Your journey as a military spouse has given you a unique set of experiences that make you a standout candidate.

Some example answers are:


“As a military spouse, I’ve developed a unique set of skills such as adaptability, resilience, and the ability to thrive in diverse environments. In five years, I see myself leveraging these strengths to excel in a leadership role within this organisation. My experiences have taught me the value of teamwork, effective communication, and quick decision-making, qualities that I believe will contribute significantly to both my personal growth and the success of the company.”


“Over the next five years, I see myself as someone who has continued to evolve and adapt to new challenges. I am committed to ongoing learning and staying abreast of industry trends. Whether it’s through professional development courses, mentorship programmes, or staying engaged in relevant networks, I want to ensure that I am always bringing the latest insights and skills to any role I undertake. My goal is to be a continuous learner and a valuable asset to the organisation.”

I’ve heard about STAR stories – what are they?

STAR (situation, action, task, result) stories are a structured way of highlighting your past experiences, allowing you to showcase your skills and competencies.

S: Describe the Situation, providing background information, helping the interviewer understand the circumstances.
T: Explain the specific Task or challenge you were faced with in that situation. This sets the stage for what you needed to accomplish or overcome.
A: Detail the Actions you took to address the situation or task. What specific steps did you take? This is the core of your response and where you showcase your skills, qualities and decision-making.
R: Highlight the Results of your actions. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience.

I’ve been at home with the kids for so long, I can’t think of my strengths and weaknesses for a job!

It’s understandable to feel this way. Remember, your experiences as a military spouse and managing a household have equipped you with valuable skills, such as organsiation, time management, communication skills and resilience.

I’ve heard that body language can make all the difference…

Body language plays a crucial role in making a positive impression during an interview.

Start with a handshake that’s firm but friendly as it conveys confidence. Maintaining eye contact establishes attentiveness and engagement with your interviewer(s). Standing tall with good posture conveys a positive attitude. Smiling naturally shows an approachable demeanour and creates a positive atmosphere. Active listening by nodding at appropriate times can show you’re in tune and your interviewer will feel heard. Portray a confident entry and exit.

The Forces Employment Charity helps ex-forces personnel and their families through a range of practical support. It supports current partners as well as those that are separated, divorced or widowed through its Families Programme.


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