Transitioning out of the military and into the private sector is the subject of a great deal of study and analysis for good reason. Many tend to think having military service on your resume will help you get a job, but in my experience, longstanding misconceptions about the military often conspire against you when walking into an interview. For those who are familiar with what service entails, the military portion of your resume is just another part of your work history to consider — but for many, personal perceptions about the military, based on pop-culture rather than reality, can bias an interviewer.
In some ways, this bias is the element of the transition process that goes widely unaddressed — in part because no one in their right mind would admit to having negative biases toward those who have served (that would be PR suicide) and, to be honest, there are so many persistent issues we see time and time again among departing service members on the job hunt that it seems almost counter-intuitive to dedicate time and effort to understanding the nuances of perception. When your resume still has misspelled words in the heading and uses military specific vernacular throughout, you won’t even have a chance to worry about bias in an interview — you’re not going to get the interview to begin with.
In the past, I’ve discussed how to land yourself an interview, so let’s assume you’re among the well-prepared veterans that either put a great deal of effort into perfecting your resume or outsourced it to a resume professional (a great option for those who can afford it). You got a callback and scheduled an interview — now what do you do?
There are literally thousands of websites out there dedicated to telling you how to “nail” your interview — some better than others — but the basic tenants of the process are so well covered throughout that I’ll spare you lectures about dressing appropriately (which varies based on position and environment), answering the cliché interview questions (“describe your biggest weakness”), or being on time (if you can’t do that, the interview is moot because I’m not going to hire you). Instead, we’re going to address a few veteran-specific interview recommendations that aren’t as readily covered on the sites dedicated to helping you find work.