I’m a Veteran – Give me a Job

It’s Veterans Day, and while I’m enjoying a day off from my job I’ve been thinking about a dilema many of us veterans face. We’ve spent years learning skills and excelling in the military and when it’s time to move on to our next career it’s often discouraging and confusing when entering the civilian workforce for the first time. Our country owes a great deal of gratitude to all our veterans for their sacrifice and service – but that doesn’t mean anyone owes us a job when we get out!

In many cases we’ll have to start at the bottom (or at least a lower rung) of the ladder again when entering the civilian workforce. We may need to learn an entirely new set of skills and re-establish a reputation of excellence within our new organization.

The good news is that even though we may be starting out on a lower rung of the ladder, veterans often rise quicker and further up the ladder than our civilian counterparts due to the skills learned in military service.

There is one area in which most of us are initially deficient however, and this relates to interviewing skills. Many of us have never had to interview for a job since Uncle Sam has directed our careers since we got out of school. The job interview, for many, is uncharted water and can seem to be foreign and frightening. Don’t be discouraged; draw upon the years of experience you’ve gained in the military. Your sense of commitment, courage, integrity, and tenacity will all stand you in good stead as you prepare for your your job interview.

You should view the job interview just as you viewed any major operation or assignment in the military; planning, organization and execution all come into play – you know how to do this!

Just as you trained and exercised in the military, you can do the same in preperation for your job interview. Do your research (intel), develop your strategy (planning) and rehearse the process (exercise).

There are many great sources of information out there that will give you an edge, such as:

Corporate Gray

Veterans Administration 

So………….just because you’re a veteran, doesn’t mean that anyone owes you a job, but you do have a truly priceless advantage going forward – your military service!


photo: pixabay.com




Laugh it off

In a recent job interview, in which I was the candidate, I asked this question, “If I were to take a typical day in this job and divide it up into three segments; administration and planning; managing the processes; and customer interface, what percentages would you assign to each segment”?

The interviewer came back with this response, “75%, 75% and 75%”. At first I was taken aback by this response because I had asked this question specifically to help me understand the relative weight of the major tasks involved in the job. The response I received was probably meant to be funny or cleaver but it didn’t give me any useful information and caused me to question the sincerity (or knowledge) of the interviewer.

So what did I do?……………I laughed it off.

If you encounter a situation during the interview where the interviewer attempts to be funny, or sarcastic, or cynical, rather than giving you a straight answer, you have a choice to make. You can press the interviewer for an honest answer or laugh and move on. How you choose to handle the situation can determine the outcome of the entire interview.

Getting into a contentious situation in the interview is never good, so it’s always best to let it go and log the issue away for future consideration. If you are offered the job you will already have some insight into the personality of your new boss, and can deal with them accordingly. On the other hand, if you are not offered the job, you can console yourself with the knowledge that you probably wouldn’t have been happy working for that type of person anyway!

photo: pixabay.com


The Conference Call Interview

The conference call phone interview is basically a standard phone interview with several different people involved in the interview at remote locations. There are a couple of unique aspects to this type of interview, however, but it does offer the candidate the ability to interact from any place that’s convenient.

So how does it work? The candidate will be given a phone number and access number in order to join a conference call; usually already in progress. Once the candidate dials in and announces their presence the interview begins. From this point on the interview proceeds much like any other phone interview with various interviewers asking questions and responding to questions from the candidate.

If you are asked to participate in a conference call interview there are some things you can do in advance to support your position and put you in the best light possible. Here are some things you should do:
• Pick a quiet location where you can talk undisturbed and not have to worry about background noise or other interruptions.
• If you have a landline, use that to give you a clear solid signal.
• If you are using a cell phone, try to incorporate a headset with a microphone to give you the best audio possible as opposed to speaker mode, which can sometimes sound distant or muffled. This will also free up your hands for note-taking.
• Make a test call to a friend before the conference call to verify your audio levels.
• Pay close attention to the time so you can join the conference call precisely at the allotted time.

As in any interview, there are certain items that you want to have close at hand. These include:
• Copies of the job description and same resume you submitted for the position
• A notebook and two pens
• A glass of water or other beverage, in case you choke up or get “dry mouth” during the conversation
• A computer or tablet to access company web pages or other info you’ve previously prepared to help you during the interview. Try not to capture your notes on the computer during the interview, however, since the keyboard can make a distracting (and annoying) noise in the background.
• A written list of questions to ask the interviewers

If at all possible, try to find out who will be interviewing you and do your pre-interview intel on social media/LinkedIn to discover mutual connections and other valuable information that will help you make a personal connection with the interviewers.

Since the interviewers will not be able to see you, your charming smile and snappy outfit will be of no use. This makes it even more important to use your voice in a friendly and compelling manner. The more “personality” you can project, the better. Don’t be afraid to laugh a little also – especially if the interviewers say something funny!
Most importantly, don’t be intimidated or reluctant to participate in a conference call interview. Try to look at it as if you were having a discussion with several new friends you’ve just met!

So…………let your excitement and enthusiasm show through and you will make a favorable and lasting impression on everyone participating in the conference call interview!


photo: pixabay.com


Are you interview ready?

The average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  How about you?  Is a job change in your future? – probably so, if you believe in statistics!

The days of working for a single employer for our entire working life are pretty much over. Companies are constantly changing through process improvement, cost-cutting, acquisition and government regulation.  Even if we wanted to stay with the first company we joined after school or our time in the military, the odds are against it.  

This probability is not necessarily a bad thing.  Job transitions, while often stressful, can offer a chance to grow and improve our living conditions and lifestyle.  Job changes lead us to develop new skills and offer new opportunities and new experiences.  

With the expectation of periodically changing jobs (either through design or through circumstances outside our control) it’s a good idea to be interview ready.  So, how does one go about being ready for this eventuality?  If you are reading this post, you have already taken a bold step toward preparedness.  By reading about and studying the job interview process you will find the prospect of job change to be much less intimidating and stressful.

Develop a plan for becoming interview ready through the following:

  • Read everything you can find on job interviewing
  • Develop a robust personal and professional network
  • Practice with family and friends using the 50 most common interview questions compiled by Glassdoor.com
  • Compile a list of your major achievements, including statistics
  • Contact the people you want to have as references
  • Practice telling your story in a succinct and compelling way
  • Develop a list of questions you want to have ready to ask the interviewer

Thinking back to my time in the Boy Scouts, our motto of “Be Prepared”, is still the best advice for becoming interview ready!


photo: pixabay







What are you reading?

The internet is a rich source of valuable information relating to developing interview skills.  There are endless lists of the “best” or “most difficult” or “unexpected” interview questions.  There are numerous articles telling us what we should do (or not do) during the interview.  So, where does one start?  Taking the vast number of relevant articles out there and distilling them down to a meaningful and valuable list is much like making maple syrup; you begin with a lot of sap and boil it down to a wonderful sweet syrup (if you are from New England or Canada you know what I’m talking about)!

Developing and improving our interviewing skills is a never-ending process.

So…………………..what are you reading (books, articles, blogs, etc) that you feel would benefit others in their quest to improve their interviewing skills?  Hit the comment link and let us know.



photo: pixabay 


I wish I’d known this before the interview

There are many times in life where we learn something too late. If we’d known about it earlier it could have provided a totally different outcome in our lives.

Interviewing is one such event where we never have a crystal clear view of what will transpire, or what we will be asked of us.

Did I dress appropriately?
Did I prepare for the most common questions the interviewer is likely to ask?
Did I get the handshake just right?
Did I talk too much? Too little?

If you are like me, you love infographics for their concise and graphically pleasing depiction of information. Here’s one of my favorites relating to the interview. Stewart Cowan at Daily Inforgaphic put this one together and it gives us the ability to view a lot of information very quickly! Give it a look before your next interview so you won’t have to say “I wish I’d known this”.

…so what do you think?


How much does the nail cost?

I just read an article in Business Insider that listed a collection of interview questions from some of the world’s most notable and up-and-coming bosses.  The questions are very diverse from “what is your favorite quote?” to “what would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?”

While most of us will never be interviewed by the bosses in the article, we may be faced with an oddball question or two during the interview.  Sometimes an interviewer will try to surprise a candidate with a question out of left field just to see their reaction, or to test their creative or analytic capabilities.  If you are asked one of these types of questions just take a deep breath and answer to the best of your ability.  In many cases the answer may require some calculations or other geo-spatial computations.  This may be an opportunity to use the whiteboard to help you reason through the problem.  In many cases there may be no right or wrong answer and the interviewer is just seeking your point of view or insights into your personality.

There is no way you will have a quick answer to all the various questions that may be thrown at you, but by being ready for these types of questions in advance you can maintain your composure and press on.  By doing your homework, and a little digging around before the interview, you will have an answer to some of the more common “gotcha” questions and score some major points in your next interview.

So here’s the question: “If a hammer and nail cost $1.10, and the hammer costs $1.00 more than the nail, how much does the nail cost?”  

Hint – it’s not $.10 (you’ll just have to read the Business Insider article to find out the answer).


photo: pixabay


Are you a fit?

I know a woman who had a beautiful pair of shoes that she loved.  She prized this pair of shoes above many other pair she owned but there was only one problem…………….they didn’t fit.  The shoes did fit when she bought them (or she thought they did) but as time went on the shoes became more and more uncomfortable to the point that she could no longer wear them.

When you are interviewing for a position at a company or government organization, fit is critical.  No matter how much you want the job, or how perfect you think you’d be in the position, if the fit isn’t right it will not work out well in the end.

Before you get too far along in the job hunting and interview process, be sure you are really seeking the right type of position based on what you want to do and what your skills and passions will lend themselves to.  

When you go for an interview there are two dimensions to your job fit; how the job fits with you, and how you fit with the organization.  If only one of the two fits is right, there will be rough times ahead.  But if both fits are right, you are on your way to a rewarding and fulfilling job.

By asking specific and penetrating questions of the recruiter or HR professional prior to the interview, you may be able to determine if the job will be a fit for you.  Factors such as:

  • work location,
  • hours,
  • responsibilities,
  • scope of work,
  • travel requirements,
  • overtime or shift requirements,
  • length of contract or whether or not the position is contingent on winning a contract,

should all be considered.  If the answers to these questions about the position don’t fit with what you are looking for, it is unlikely the position will be a fit for you.

Knowing in advance that you wouldn’t be a good fit will allow you to focus your efforts on other opportunities and not waste your (or the hiring manager’s) time on something that is not right for you.

I had to decline an interview opportunity just last week because the position wasn’t a good fit for what I would like to pursue.  No hard feelings on either side, and we both went our separate ways.

So, don’t be like the woman who bought a pair of shoes that she thought would fit but turned out to be a painful experience!


photo: pixabay