The ten quickest ways to ruin a military to civilian interview
by Brad Hadfield, Contributing Writer
Article Sponsored by: Air Force Civilian Service
The room seems to be closing in around you. Beads of sweat are forming just beneath your scalp. Your thoughts are running wild. Your clothes, alternately, feel too tight, too loose or as if they are choking you. All this, and the questioning - interrogation? - has yet to begin.
This sets the stage for an interview and, for separating military personnel, the scenario can be even more intimidating. It is not the inability to handle the pressure - your experience certainly disproves that - rather, chalk it up to how different it is from the world you have occupied for many years. This slightly casual yet highly uncomfortable atmosphere is simply unfamiliar ground.
Fortunately, military training provides the tools needed to adapt and this transition can become much more relaxed by following a few guidelines. “Even the most experienced interviewee can fall victim to some of the most obvious blunders,” says Mary Hoch, a business consultant in Sarasota, Fla. “It never hurts to review some basic rules of thumb before sitting down for a military to civilian interview.”
Often your big chance to show that you have been paying attention, that you are interested, and that you did your research, comes when you are asked, “Do you have any questions?”
Do not say no! If you do not have questions specific to the job at hand, here are some indispensable fallbacks:
There is one final do not - do not underestimate yourself! Be proud of your military service. Just as you should never disparage a previous employer, nor should you downplay or talk badly about your military experience - after all, you just left one of the noblest occupations in the United States. Many of the qualities you developed in the military are also important to employers - teamwork, resourcefulness, leadership, dedication, and honesty. You simply need to take these traits and apply them in a meaningful way to the position you seek.
“My military experience has always proven beneficial,” says Mark Eary, a former naval aviation specialist out of Pawtuxet, Md. He applied many of the traits he learned from his time in the Navy to get hired into the business of property management, and has since gone on to a successful career in real estate. “Even today, when I’m talking to clients, there can be an immediate camaraderie if they’ve served, too. I’ve closed a lot of deals this way, and I’ve made a lot of friends.”
Former military service members are well-groomed for civilian jobs; it is just a matter of avoiding the do nots and applying your experience. If you have doubts, think about Kelly Perdew, the former intelligence officer and winner of season two of “The Apprentice.” He was chosen by Donald Trump over thousands of others because he possessed the skills learned by all who serve in the military and avoided the dreaded “Interview Do Nots’.” Remember this, and the room that felt as if it was closing in around you will open up into a whole new world.
Brad Hadfield is a marketing executive and freelance writer in Sarasota, Fla.
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