Veterans would never go outside the wire without preparation but too many do just that when it comes to interviewing for a job. Here is how you can apply your military training to ensure success in the job interview process.
Reconnaissance and rehearsal are two important steps in preparing for a mission. Those same steps apply when preparing for a successful interview.
Rehearsal involves identifying common interview questions, developing your answer to those questions, and then practicing the delivery of those answers. Common questions include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Give an example of a significant accomplishment.
- Tell me about a weakness.
- Give an example of a time you failed.
- How do you work as a member of a team?
- How do you lead others?
- What do you do when a team member is under performing?
- How do you organize a complex assignment?
- Why are you leaving the military?
- Tell me how your experience has prepared you for this job.
- Tell me more about this item on your resume.
After identifying the questions for which you will to prepare, the next step is to develop your answers. This may seem painful, but you need to write those answers down. Don’t let fear of the empty page stop you. Start by just typing whatever answers come to mind. It is much easier to revise something you have written than it is to write it in the first place. Do this on a computer if you can to make editing easier.
After you have a written answer for a question, read it out loud. How does it sound? Does it sound stilted or natural? Does it flow? Make any adjustments you identify from reading it out loud. Read it aloud a few more times until it feels natural. You need to be able to deliver these answers under pressure. And while interviews are a far cry from combat, you may find yourself surprisingly nervous at your first few interviews.
At this point, you have a good start on one or more answers to your questions. Now you need to practice delivering these answers to someone else. This can be your spouse, a friend, or another transitioning veteran. Practice this both in person and over the phone. Many first interviews are over the phone. Don’t read your answers. You should know them by now. But don’t memorize them to the point where you sound like a robot. The answers need to flow naturally.
The final step in the interview is to start with the prepared questions, but then have your practice interviewer go off script. Have them ask for more details, challenge the wisdom of a course of action you took, and ask clarifying questions. Practice with a friendly interviewer and with one who is less friendly and more inclined to disbelieve you. As you practice with a more challenging interviewer, remember to keep your cool and stay professional. Sometimes interviewers will challenge your answers simply to gauge your reaction. Don’t let them get under your skin.
Interviews are tough, especially at first. But as a veteran, you have overcome far harder challenges. With a bit of preparation, you can be very successful at job interviews.
This article discussed rehearsals. Part 2 teaches you how to use reconnaissance for interview success.
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