By: Suzan Ricker Susan Ricker
Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
Although it’s exciting to make progress in your job search and be asked in for an interview, it can also be stressful. However, by practicing your answers to the standard interview questions, you can calm your nerves and present your best self, no matter your background experience. This is just as true for civilian job seekers as it is for former service members. If your background includes military experience, how can you share that in your answers, especially if your interviewer doesn’t have a military background?
Here are some potential interview questions, along with advice for preparing your answers.
Tell me about yourself.
This is a typical first interview question, but it’s a chance to bring up your military experience on your own terms. Why did you choose to go into the military? How did your service change you or help you grow? Share your experience, including any leadership roles you held. Discuss why you chose the military, why you’re interested in this position now and how it relates to your career plans. Close your answer on a positive note, so the interviewer can smoothly transition to your work experience.
What did you do in the military?
If your interviewer doesn’t have military experience, you’ll need to explain your role while being mindful that any military jargon may not be understood. Speak about the different positions you had, as well as how you worked with your team. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate to discuss, ask yourself: Is this relevant to the position I’m applying for, will it make the interviewer choose me over other candidates, and why might the interviewer care about this information?
How has your military experience prepared you for this role?
Although you may have briefly covered this in your introduction, now is the time to directly relate your military experience to the position you’re applying for. Share leadership examples, explain the work ethic you developed, and mention any comrades or mentors who have been a direct influence on you. Explain training you received or skills you developed in the military — if they are relevant to the position.
What’s an example of a time a project failed or didn’t go the way you wanted it to?
While this and “What’s your biggest weakness?” are often some of the least favorite interview questions, military veterans have the opportunity to give a great answer. Share a weakness or a short example of a failure, but follow it up with the positive outcome or experience you had because you were part of a strong team. You can turn this answer into a demonstration of how your qualities would make you a strong addition to the employer’s team. Also, take this opportunity to talk about your problem-solving abilities, the importance of communication and knowing when to ask for help.
Many employers are seeking workers who are disciplined and who can work with or lead a team, so your military experience can be a huge asset. Know your advantages and come prepared.