Demonstrating you leadership during an interview.
I am doing several mock interviews with candidates preparing for the Cameron-Brooks April 2009 Conference. I am finding some are doing a very good job of connecting their military experience to key competencies and functional experience to the questions I am asking. Some need significant improvement. This post addresses the importance of delivering specific answers that demonstrate competencies and functional experience.
A competency is a consistently demonstrated trait or behavior. Some examples of competencies are idea leadership, cross-functional leadership, project management, problem solving, creativity and initiative. Functional experience is the expertise you have developed in the military that directly relates to the positions for which you are interviewing. Some examples of functional experience are maintenance, project management, operational leadership, logistics, risk management, safety, etc. Companies expect you to be able to pick the right time to talk about competencies and the right time to bring out relatable functional experience.
Some candidates in my mock interviews over the past two weeks had problems with this. For example, I would ask them a question focused on project management and instead they discussed a team leadership accomplishment highlighting coaching and the training of subordinates. An accomplishment cannot be related in a vacuum, but rather needs to be spelled out to directly relate to the question.
A second problem I observed was that some candidates explained accomplishments and competencies well, but failed to highlight relevant functional experience. For example, I asked a few to connect to maintenance, a candidate highlighted competencies (like technical skills and team leadership), but failed to highlight functional maintenance experience from jobs in the military. In all cases, the key to interviewing is to use competencies and functional experience that are specific to the interview at hand.
This is a difficult concept to master unless you practice before you interview. First, take time to write out answers, then put them in bullet format, then practice alone in a tape recorder and finally find someone who will listen to you and provide genuine feedback. Realistic preparation is the best way to get ready for interviewing, especially in this current market.