The Peril of Parade Rest during a Job Interview
As a transitioning service member, many of your military attributes such as work ethic, leadership and punctuality are in high demand by civilian corporations. You are a desirable candidate. However, you do not want to be perceived as “too military” by the interviewer.
By way of example, military customs and courtesies show respect and reflect self-discipline. You spent months learning how to stand properly for the military. Soldiers are taught at initial training that when they are speaking to or being addressed by a noncommissioned officer, they will stand at parade rest until ordered otherwise. This is great habit for a young soldier, but it can be hard to break once leaving the service. However, there is no place for this stance in the civilian job interview.
The problem is, attention and parade will not only be misunderstood but might also scare a civilian interview panel. You may be the most qualified person they interview and get screened out because you are perceived as “too military”. While thinking that you are rendering an appropriate level of courtesy, you may be frustrating your job prospect. You interviewer(s) may not just be confused, they could be alarmed.
Old habits are hard to break, so let’s run down a few Do’s and Don’ts for your first civilian interview. First, let’s talk about the Don’ts.
- Any discussion about “Top”, “Chest Candy”, “29 Palms” or the “Big Sandbox” would be out of place. Save the jargon for a beer with your military and veteran buddies, as they will not be understood at the interview.
- Similarly, do not use nomenclature or unit names. These will not be understood.
- Depending on the part of the country in which you are living and interviewing, repeatedly addressing the interviewer or members of the panel as “sir” or “ma’am” could be cause for concern.
- Leave your uniform at home; any part of it. Believe it or not, Corfam low quarters have been popping up at interviews all over the country. Stop in and get yourself an entire civilian suit, to include shoes, socks and a dress belt.
- Don’t be rigid! Again, you do not want to come off as “too military”.
- Don’t get too comfortable! No matter what you see or how comfortable you get, remember this is an interview and you are being watched very closely.
- Of course, no cursing! Don’t do it. It is too risky as someone will not appreciate it.
So, what should you do? Here are a couple of things to keep in mind!
- If you are just getting out, meet up with other veterans that have transitioned and talk about the interview process.
- Before the interview, try to gain as much intelligence about the company as you can. Reach out to your social network and find out what the culture is like.
- If you know who will be conducting the interview, try to gain some insight on them and the position.
- Have some specific examples of previous work and leadership experiences that were particularly challenging and how you overcame the problem. Translate them to civilian terminology. You will be asked behavioral or situational interview questions and you need to be ready.
- Thoroughly answer questions, demonstrating your personal and professional growth, without throwing anyone under the bus.
- Make sure you have some questions for the interview panel. We don’t often ask a lot of questions in the military, but this is the time and place to show that you have researched the company and are interested in the job and the team you are joining.
- Be yourself and don’t be afraid to toot your horn!
In summary, bring your highly desirable military attributes to the interview, but don’t be perceived as overly military!
Wishing you a lucrative transition.