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Gather Intel For Your Interview


Gather Intel For Your Interview

You’ve conquered the job search, and you’re ready to face the front line. Proper preparation is the key to triumph in the final, most intimidating battle – the interview.

Gather Intel For Your Interview


  1. The company determines if you are a good fit for their company in this role at this time.

  2. You determine if the company is a good fit for you at this time.

An interviewer has objectives. First, to confirm your skills and experiences are relevant to the role. And, more importantly, to assess if your character is consistent with the company culture.


  1. Confirm the candidate’s skills and experiences are relevant to the company’s needs.

  2. Assess if the candidate’s character is aligned with the company culture.


To achieve their first objective, the interviewer will usually ask questions about your skills and experiences directly related to the those presented in the job description: daily responsibilities, basic and preferred requirements. Sometimes they will ask about specific experiences you included in your resume.

To achieve their second objective, the interviewer will normally ask situational-based questions to better understand your thought process, to assess your problem-solving and communication skills, and how your values orient you when overcoming challenges to meet goals.

In many cases, your interview experience will resemble more of a conversation. In other words, you won’t
just receive a battery of questions. So be prepared for multi-part questions and follow-up questions or requests for clarification. Also, be prepared for and elicit a discussion with the interviewer.


  1. Get the job offer.

  2. Confirm this company and this role will lead you to your “Top 10.”

  3. Accurately reveal your character and the value you can create for the company.

To achieve your first objective, you should follow the tips and guidance in the next section below.

  • To achieve your second objective, you should prepare questions aligned with your “Top 10.” You may not have the opportunity to ask all prepared questions, so prioritize them. And, if you know who will interview you, then align them with the appropriate interviewer – the one who may be best prepared to answer.

To achieve your third objective, you need to come prepared. Know what the company’s expectations are for their employees and analyze how your contribution and performance will create value for the company. And, get comfortable answering situational-based questions so you conclude each answer with a description of what you learned from that experience and how you apply that lesson today.


  • Screening – Usually conducted by the recruiter with the intent of identifying the 3 to 5 candidates to be interviewed by the selection committee. They usually have general knowledge about the role.

  • Technical or skills test/assessment – Usually reserved for skilled-trades roles or specialist positions; often conducted by a technical professional and is designed to assess your skills.

  • In-person – Usually conducted by 3-4 separate interviewers who will provide input to the decision-maker: the hiring manager. These interviewers may have held this job previously or worked in a similar environment. They usually have specific and firsthand knowledge about the role.


  • Telephonic – Usually a shorter session and used principally for the screening.

  • Video Interview Tool (e.g. HireVue) – Often used as or to complement the screening interview.

  • Virtual – A remote experience leveraging video conference platforms where more than two people can be involved; this venue can support all interview types.

  • Face-to-Face – (also referred to as in-person interviews) Usually the final opportunity to earn the job offer. Often hosted at the actual work site and may include a tour.


There are both live and on-demand video programs:

  • A live interview will connect you with recruiters and hiring managers in real time. Interviews under this venue are like face-to-face interviews.

  • An on-demand video will let you record responses to pre-determined questions without the recruiter
    or hiring manager’s presence. Your recorded answers can be shared amongst the hiring or selection team. The procedure will resemble this sequence:

    • The recruiter will send you an email with an embedded link that contains the questions you must answer.

    • You will be given time to review the questions and prepare your answers.

    • When ready, you begin the video to answer each question independently, within a specified time.

    • You may review each answer before you return the file to the recruiter.

    • If you do not like your answer, you will often be afforded one opportunity to re-do your answer.

    • Once completed, you return your completed file to the recruiter.


Interview Pointers


Interpreters are not allowed to accompany you to your interview. So, the key to your success is to properly prepare. Practice speaking plainly, drop the military jargon and REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE.

Talk about “I.” This is about you and the value you can create; avoid emphasizing your team and its


Reveal your character. For situational-based questions, the interviewer is assessing your character from how you reveal it when describing your performance in a situation. Conclude with a positive takeaway.

Embrace past failure. Get comfortable discussing your professional weakness or past mistakes and failures. These can show humility and self-improvement.

Don’t be afraid of silence. Take a second to create an outline of your answer to avoid rambling responses and ensure you answer the question fully.

Do your share of the talking. Think of the interview as a conversation, creating give-and-take with the interviewer.

Prepare questions in advance. Ask questions to determine if this opportunity will fulfill your “Top 10” needs and learn if this company and this job are the right fit for you.

Don’t be first. Do not initiate discussion about salary or wages. But, be prepared to express your value in a salary or wage. There will be time to negotiate.

Know the company’s general business situation. What service or product do they provide and for whom?

Understand the company’s culture and values. Show how your qualifications and experience contribute and add value to their business needs, and how your character aligns with their culture.

Turn off your phone. Better yet, leave it in the car.


Come Prepared


Your recruiter or coordinator should provide necessary logistics information, including date, time and location, names and titles of those who will interview you, links or connection instructions for video-assisted venues as well as parking and entrance instructions for in-person opportunities. If you have a question or concern, it is best you get it clarified beforehand and save embarrassment.koch-industries-military-shoes.jpg

  • Come dressed for success.

  • Leverage all that you learned from your informational interviews; use the professional words and language used in your targeted career field(s) – speak plainly, drop the military jargon so you don’t need an interpreter.

  • Arrive on time, but not 30 minutes beforehand. Five or 10 minutes in advance is perfect.

  • Carry a portfolio or folder that includes the following items:

    • Blank paper on which you can write notes or outline your answer.

    • Put the word “I” on the top of each blank piece of paper to remind yourself that you have to

      talk about the difference you made; your team is not with you and they won’t get hired along

      with you either.

    • A list of 15 questions – This is where you achieve your objective for the interview:

      • Gather the remaining information about your “Top 10.”

      • The interaction is conversational, so some questions may be answered before you ask them.

      • You don’t want to respond with an empty stare when they ask, "So, what are your questions?”

    • A copy of the job description for your reference.

    • A list of the company’s employee values for your use and reminder.

    • A few copies of your resume – although everyone should have already studied it and have a copy.

    • A copy of your DD Form 214.

    • A list of your references including their contact information – phone number, email address, etc.

    • If required, a copy of your Disqualification Statement.

  • Research those who are scheduled to interview you.

    • Review their bio on the company’s web page.

    • Do a Google search on them.

    • Review their LinkedIn profile and maybe even their Facebook page.

    • Why?:

      • Identify their role and experiences so you can ask them appropriate questions.

      • To lessen the tension in the interview room by mentioning something you have in common.


Leave Happy


Thank everyone who was involved in the process, even the administrative assistant.

  • At the first opportunity, send a thank-you note to those who interviewed you.

  • Remember, this is a competition, so don’t overestimate your performance outcome.

  • Begin to prepare for your negotiation; review your desired outcomes.

As soon as you send those thank-you notes, commence searching for another job and even draft a new customized resume and apply while you wait to hear your interview results. This is a tough war; only one candidate will be hired. And, you don’t want to lose any momentum if you are not the one selected for this job.

Beware of Preconceptions



It was a strange, new thing. It is very, very different to know you’ve never held a corporate position before. I was aware that I had some marketable skills but had to translate that into something a company would understand.”

Operations manager, Georgia-Pacific (Harmon)

As a veteran interviewing for a civilian role, your skills could be misinterpreted based on your delivery and demeanor. The following are common perceptions and some tips to keep in mind:

The underlying issue for incorrect perceptions of military veterans is the cultural and communication gap that exists between the military community and the civilian population.

94% of the current American population never served in the military.

  • This means they do not understand the veteran, their language or their culture.

  • They cannot connect the dots between military skills and experiences and their relevance to business needs.

  • It leads to misunderstanding, miscommunication and tremendous barriers to the veteran attempting to transition or acclimate to their new operating environment once hired.

  • These misunderstandings of your character and language, most often made evident during the interview, present barriers to the military-to-civilian transition.


Critical and creative thinking skills: Veterans often demonstrate these sought-after skills, which also offer a strong baseline for entrepreneurship.

Compliance: Top companies look for candidates who can balance requirements versus risk and have the ability to hold themselves and others accountable.

Sense of urgency: This is a strength but do be careful. When overplayed, it can be perceived as too intense.

Compassion: Leaders and managers who exhibit compassionate leadership traits enable their team to reach self-fulfillment.



Keep in mind that though you have strong attributes, broad experiences and valuable skills, you may be lacking experience in one or more critical areas.


Flexibility: Relax. Stiff posture and short responses feed the stereotype that military veterans are not flexible.

Humility: Rather than stating that everything you do is a success, show your dedication to truth, a willingness to listen and learn as well as the ability to sincerely seek criticism.

Change: Be open to change. Military veterans are viewed as checklist-oriented, afraid of having their ideas challenged or challenging the ideas of others.

Emotion: The civilian world wants you to show passion for your work and in the pursuit of your goals.

Word choice: Eliminate military words and titles, also known as jargon. This helps avoid confusion and delivers your message or point more clearly.

Control: Exhibiting controlling leadership qualities feeds the perception that military veteran leaders are “drill sergeants” or possibly micro-managers.

Intensity: Military leaders and managers can be stereotyped as “blindly charging the hill.” Be open to challenge and listening to the ideas of others.