One of the biggest challenges in helping veterans transition to the civilian workforce is helping employers make the connection between military skills and private sector needs. August Nielsen, human resources director for Veterans United Home Loans, recently contributed an article to the Monster Resource Center that offered great advice for employers on how to interview a veteran. Here’s an excerpt.
Many members of the U.S. Armed Forces are returning home to a progressively competitive civilian job market. What’s worse is the fact that these men and women are having difficulty translating broad military experiences into gainful employment.
“Most of these men and women have never applied for a job before. They went straight from high school or college and they went into the military,” said former Marine Corps Captain and President of Hire Heroes USA, Brian Stann. “So for them to play the unemployment game and translate their skill-sets effectively, it is very difficult for them.”
Stann’s comments are directly on point. From M1A1 Abrams Tank Operators to Platoon Leaders, veterans are having difficulty translating their skills and are giving recruiters the added challenge of interpreting unfamiliar experience.
When interviewing veterans and service members, take the following interview tips into consideration and you’ll discover a strong crop of top candidates.
Uncover Qualities through Performance Based Interviews
Interviewing a veteran is no different than interviewing a civilian candidate. The Department of Veterans Affairs even recommends using performance based interviews for applicants directly out of the service. This type of interview has been widely used for the past 30 years and focuses on what a person has done, instead of what they would do.
As many recruiters know, the performance-based interview does have its flaws. Most notably is the fact that an applicant with great presentation skills can secure strong consideration by conveying what the interviewer wants to hear over what is true, meaning they may or may not possess the skills relevant to the position.
To avoid this, shift the focus from past behavior to verifiable experiences and achievements that matter most to the specific position. Basically, don’t look at achievements, but the path that led them there.
This may require some tailoring of normal interview questions to fit the applicant.
How to Tailor your Interview Questions to Veteran Experience
If you are interested in the veteran applicant’s ability to handle customer service, you will want to ask them interview questions that allow them to provide a complete answer:
Tell me about a situation where you realized a person needed help. How did you realize the person needed assistance and what did you do? What was the outcome of this situation?
Keep in mind that for many veterans, this could be their first job interview outside of the military. Thus asking them to provide a time they had to deal with an unruly customer may not yield an appropriate answer.
Remember that the rules of combat and military service often differ from civilian life. Your job is to determine if the candidate you’re interviewing can differentiate these situations.
Read the full article over at the Monster Resource Center, and learn how to ask questions that truly uncover values and qualities that can determine how well a veteran can mesh with your company’s culture.