How to Prepare to Interview a Veteran
When most corporate recruiters and hiring managers interview a veteran, they treat the process as if the candidate were just like everyone else. On one level, this is good, because it ensures equality of opportunity and compliance with both human resources law and common sense.
Companies are losing out on the high value of quality veteran talent, however, when they do not take the proper veteran-specific steps to prepare, assess and follow up with military-experienced candidates. In every important way, veteran job candidates are like any other human, but unlocking their special and extraordinary capacity to contribute to a new organization requires effort and insight.
One model for successful veteran interviewing is defined by the acronym PAF: Prepare, Assess and Follow up. This article examines the first step: Prepare.
Understand why you are hiring veterans.
During the Prepare phase, the interviewer reviews the organization’s driving purpose in hiring veterans, checks his or her bias regarding veterans and seeks to understand the true success drivers for the position.
Most interviewers skip the first step, but it is critical to understand the underlying motivations for the organization’s veteran hiring initiative. Is there a sincere commitment to veteran abilities and experiences, or is there more of a political climate of insincere appearances? Some organizations feature a wide range of sometimes conflicting motivations, but the skilled interviewer will seek to understand the “why” and not just the “what” of the initiative. Only by understanding the organization’s purpose will the interviewer be able to interpret levels of tolerance for training and acculturation.
Check your bias
Related to this issue, the interviewer must check his or her bias regarding veterans as employees. In our politically correct times, any admission of preconceived notions about any group of people is interpreted as the worst possible sin. Yet it is impossible to exist in our media-saturated culture without developing some sorts of predetermined notions about any group whether accurate or not. Rather than suppress these thoughts, the interviewer should get in touch with these feelings and confront them with facts.
For example, it would be perfectly normal to feel that all former soldiers are control-freak fascists, because your sister-in-law was briefly married to one. Experience and reason, however, will teach you that such generalizations are both inaccurate and unfair. Only by listening to your inner voice and confronting it will you overcome your bias (which can be positive as well as negative) and make better decisions.
Research military experience
The interviewer need not understand every line in a military résumé, but the veteran candidate will appreciate some basic understanding of general terms and experiences. Some civilian interviewers don’t understand the difference between a submarine and a U.S. Marine.
Your organization can designate one or more internal veteran resources to serve as sounding boards. Most veterans can explain the general background of another veteran’s résumé or at least help the interviewer prepare a few good clarifying questions.
Open-ended questions followed by polite clarifying comments can help structure the portion of the interview about military experience. For example: “Please walk me through your military experience from your enlistment through your initial training and your ultimate assignment to a field unit. I am eager to understand why you did the things you did and what you learned from each experience.” If the candidate uses jargon you don’t follow, it is perfectly all right to ask for a clarification. For example:”I am sorry, I am not sure I understand what a Boatswain’s Mate does; can you explain?”
Understand the “real” job requirements
Finally, the interviewer must seek to have a deep, intuitive and clear understanding of the “real” job requirements. Most organizations publish multiple-page job descriptions that contain requirements for skills and certifications that have little to do with the task at hand.
Experienced hiring managers and recruiters compensate for this verbosity with a short-hand understanding of the true needed skills and attributes. For example: “The customer-service manager really needs to be good with people and motivating his team on a daily basis, even while being regularly berated by obnoxious customers.” When properly understood this way, it quickly becomes clear how an infantry squad leader who led patrols day after day in hostile territory while maintaining personal and team morale would likely excel in the job.
Armed with the preparation steps detailed above, an organization’s interviewer is ready to conduct the meeting and assess the qualifications of the veteran applicant in a way that is effective, accurate and most likely to result in the desired outcomes.
The next article in this series will tackle the “Three A’s” of Attitude, Achievement and Ambition when evaluating a veteran candidate.
Peter A. Gudmundsson is the president and CEO RecruitMilitary , a 16-year-old company that helps organizations excel by leveraging the talent of veterans. RecruitMilitary helps companies attract, appreciate and retain high-quality veteran employees and students. Most of Gudmundsson’s career has been dedicated to leadership in media, education, information and intellectual property intensive businesses. He has run a diverse range of companies and was president of Jobs.com and Primedia Workplace Learning. Earlier in his career, Gudmundsson also served as Vice President of Corporate Development for Primedia Inc., KKR’s media company, in New York. A former U.S. Marines field artillery and intelligence officer, Gudmundsson began his civilian career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School (MBA) and Brown University (B.A.).
Oct 24, 2016
A Practical Manual for Veterans Changing Careers In today's challenging job-market, the time-tested advice of What Color Is Your Parachute? is needed more than ever. Recent grads facing a tough economic landscape, workers laid off mid-career, and people searching for an inspiring work-life change all look to career guru Richard N. Bolles for support, encouragement, and advice on which job-hunt strategies work--and which don't. This revised and updated edition combines classic elements like the famed Flower Exercise with updated tips on social media and search tactics. The formulaic approach forces you to delve deeply into your skills and interests to help identify suitable job choices. It provides realistic guidance, coupled with the recognition that job hunting is still difficult, and requires perseverance and resilience to keep trying in the midst of rejection and disappointment. This book gives you an advantage in your job hunt by pointing out pitfalls and ways to strengthen your positioning to become more competitive in the job market. There are no easy steps in the job-hunting process, and the same is true for career-changers, but you can up your odds by following the time-tested advice in the book. For instance, Bolles emphasizes the importance of taking the initiative to pursue the company you are specifically interested in to increase your odds of having your resume seen versus long odds of using a random approach such as..
Oct 17, 2016
Today 30 veterans and transitioning military attended a PMP Employers Panel hosted by NVTSI and our partner HIREGI. The three companies in attendance were; Booze Allen Hamilton, County of San Diego and Lockheed Martin. Project Managers are in Demand. And in our project-driven world, more organizations are recognizing the value of having a skilled workforce to deliver successful projects and business outcomes. Some of these same organizations also acknowledge hiring military veterans with project management expertise as an essential strategy for maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Sep 29, 2016
(San Diego, Calif.) September 29, 2016 – National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI), popularly known as REBOOT, a San Diego-based nonprofit founded in 2010 to help veterans with their reintegration back into civilian life, will be expanding to Los Angeles this winter. “We are delighted to partner with the California Employment Training Panel, veteran training providers, and local employers to align workforce development with local employer needs, making the best use of our collective resources to serve our transitioning military personnel and veterans,” reports Maurice Wilson, NVTSI’s co-founder, President and Executive Director. OPERATION REBOOT is an employer-driven initiative to prepare and train local transitioning military personnel and veterans for gainful employment in L.A.’s priority job sectors. It’s a 2-step process that is carefully orchestrated. First, by focusing on and resolving key reintegration issues veterans face, OPERATION REBOOT prepares them for success in the civilian world. As 1,500 graduates of the REBOOT Workshop™ can attest, moving from the battlefront to the home front is a life change, on top of a job change. Second, given that only 17 percent of military occupations translate directly into civilian jobs, veterans need specific job skills training to facilitate their successful transition. By partnering with employers, OPERATION REBOOT helps to align workforce training to bolster local economic development and employer needs. “Working in close partnership with community stakeholders,” says Maurice Wilson, “our objective is to..
Mar 26, 2016
Making the transition from military service to a civilian career is a defining point in one’s life. For veterans interested in pursuing a career in the financial services industry, the great news is that many skills developed in the military are transferrable and very much in demand. This segment of our economy manages $63 trillion dollars annually and is a viable employment option for veterans. While it is not for everyone, for those who posses the acumen and drive, this can be a very lucrative occupation. At this event you will hear from veterans and industry experts about the ins and outs of the business so that you can make the decision to see if it is the right fit for you. A moderator will oversee (4) panel members who will have 5-7 minutes to talk about their experiences regarding the current business climate/opportunities in the financial services industry, and what they are doing regarding Veterans (internships, hires, etc). There will be a Q&A session afterwards.
Nov 23, 2015
This Veterans Day, we’re proud to honor the service members and military spouses who are driver-partners with Uber San Diego. On Tuesday, November 11th, riders can thank a member of the UberMILITARY community in person by selecting the vehicle option UberMILITARY and taking a ride with an uberX veteran or military spouse driver-partner. The UberMILITARY vehicle option will be live in the app from 8am-10pm PST. For every UberMILITARY ride, Uber will make a donation to Hiring Our Heroes, a non-profit organization that helps veterans and military spouses transition to civilian life. We actively seek out service members and military spouses to drive with Uber because they tend to be some of the best driver-partners on the platform. Based on a case study conducted right here in San Diego, we found that veterans maintain higher driver ratings on average than non-veteran partners and also complete the more trips per week. In short, veterans are all-stars and the community values them tremendously. There are over 300 service members and military spouses partnering with Uber in San Diego and moving riders around our city every day. We’d like to introduce you to a few of them – and we hope you’ll join us in saying “thank you.”