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Two Keys for Successful Interviews: Translating and Connecting
Two important components of a successful interview are translation and connection. That is, translating your experiences with key ideas and phrases that a hiring manager can understand and connecting your background directly to the competencies of the position for which are you interviewing. Here are a few practical ideas that you can use in preparing for interviews that will positively affect your interview success.
Translating – I often observe JMOs attempting to translate their experiences by substituting one word or job title for another. A few examples are “Division Officer” for “Supervisor” or “Executive Officer” for “Project Manager” or “Company Commander” for “General Manager”. While in many cases, the two titles are highly relational, they are often not the same. Confusion arises when a JMO says one thing and a hiring manager hears something different. Instead of going for a direct word-for-word translation, consider more of a thought-for-thought translation. Go ahead and use words like Platoon Commander, Air Liaison Officer, or Damage Control Assistant; just make sure that you quickly define your primary responsibility as it relates to the position for which you are interviewing. This will clear up confusion between you and the hiring manager about the position you are explaining.
Connecting – In an interview, it’s easy to recite a memorized interview answer that you prepared before walking into the meeting. I sometimes see officers attempt this in an interview and it rarely, if ever, works. The key to connecting your background in an interview is to first understand the essence of the job for which you are interviewing (essence = what you will do and why you will do it). Then analyze the day-to-day responsibilities that you will be required to perform in the new role. Once you understand the essence and specific responsibilities, you can then tailor your accomplishments into interview answers that directly correlate to the role for which you are interviewing. Pro tip: Your most recent military experience may not be your most relevant experience.
For more interview tips and best practices, check out Chapters 4-6 of PCS to Corporate America (all proceeds of the sale of PCS to Corporate America are donated to the Admiral Nimitz Foundation).
Best of success,