Interview Preparation – Tactics for Success – Reconnaissance

recon as interview preparationVeterans 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 to how to apply reconnaissance skills to ensure interview success.

When prepping for a mission, two important steps are reconnaissance and rehearsal. Those same steps apply when preparing for a successful interview. In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the role of rehearsal in interview preparation. But how does reconnaissance fit in?

The first thing that often comes to mind when thinking of interviews is the job seeker answering questions. This is an important part of the interview, and often takes much of the interview time. But more important to the success of the interview process are the questions you ask of the interviewer. Intelligent, relevant questions reveal you as a top candidate for the job.

But how can you come up with such questions on the fly? The answer is, you don't. Instead, you develop questions specific to each job at each company for which you interview. You develop these questions during the reconnaissance portion of interview preparation.

Performing reconnaissance on a company is far easier than doing so downrange. Companies have entire marketing departments whose sole mission is to tell people about the company. You should start with the company's website. The “about us” section will help you with basic background information about the company such as what lines of business it is in, where it operates, who the leaders are, and how long the company has been in business. Don't be foolish enough to ask a question that you should have learned from the “about” page. Do your reconnaissance before the interview.

The second stop should be the company's recent announcements. This will give you insight into what important events have happened lately. At some companies, this may take the form of press releases, at others it may be a blog, and for others a social media account. Become familiar with the current events at the company with a particular eye to those that seem related to the job you are pursuing.

The third step is back to the website where you should re-review the details of the job you are pursuing and review any material related to the section of the company where this job is. These might be product brochures, training materials, or any number of items. The more you can learn here the better.

Now that your head is filled with information about the company, what questions should you prepare? The first few should be easy. You should have gathered enough information about current events, products, etc. that you naturally wonder to what degree your job would involve working with these. These can be good questions, but sometimes they fall flat. You may ask “How will I be involved with the design and production of widgets?” This may lead to a long and useful discussion, or may result in “This job is not involved with widgets.” In which case you should have a backup question such as “can you tell me more about the product or service I will be involved with and why it is valuable to customers?” Other good questions include “what recent improvements have been made to the product or service and what have customer reactions been?” Or “what improvement is most frequently requested by the customers?”

If you are interviewing with a company that is intentionally hiring veterans such as the Veteran Friendly companies on MilitaryHire, a good question can be to ask stories of how other veterans have applied their military experience to be successful at the company. Answers to a question like this can tell you much about the company's veteran hiring culture.

Remember, “time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted.” You are now armed with the knowledge how to apply your reconnaissance skills to ensure success in the job interview process.

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