Does Your Interview Process Unknowingly Exclude Veterans?
Incorporating DE&I (diversity, equality, & inclusion) into every aspect of your hiring process includes veteran and military hires.
Even if your organization already recognizes the value of hiring veterans or transitioning service members and has the desire to bring them into your workforce, being intentional about your hiring processes can make all the difference.
Imagine you’ve sourced qualified veteran job seekers who are working their way through your hiring process, and several are ready to interview.
Melissa Dobbins, DE&I advocate and founder/CEO of Career.Place, an online anonymous screening platform, suggests incorporating these points for maximum inclusivity:
Provide the Dress Code
Tell your military candidates what to expect, including what to wear and what to bring. In many cases, a veteran transitioning from military service may never have interviewed for a job before. Many employers may not realize that the promotion system in the military doesn’t necessarily require an interview. An email with instructions to make sure candidates show up on the right foot can go a long way toward lowering anxiety.
Don’t Confuse Interview Inexperience with Job Inexperience
Candidates with a military background can have a habit of underselling their accomplishments. This is partly due to military culture prioritizing humility and teamwork. Be willing to ask follow-up questions during the interview to get a better idea of the candidate's actual skills and accomplishments. You will often hear veterans say, “We did this,” or “The team did that.” Instead of directly claim responsibility for success, even amongst the senior ranks, many prior service members will defer to their team. It doesn’t mean a veteran won’t take the initiative once they are hired.
Don’t Assume Using “Sir” or “Ma’am” = “Too Formal”
While some veterans make the change easily, but to others, calling a supervisor by their first name doesn't come naturally. Again, this is part of providing a road map. Understand that this cultural sensibility begins in basic training and lasts throughout a career, with “sir” and “ma’am” used as conventions of respect. It’s been a requirement for veterans’ professional communication the entire time they’ve been in service.
Respect When A Candidate Cannot Share Details
Due to security clearances, many candidates cannot share details about a project or operation in their past. Some veterans who worked in areas of high security may even have had their resumes cleared to ensure they don’t contain details that may not be released. If a candidate tells you this, it’s not a reflection of their interest in your role. They want to provide specifics, but they simply cannot.
One talent acquisition manager chose this lens when interviewing a candidate whose military background was highly classified: “His job required commitment, compassion, diligence, and the ability to secure information in a timely manner. A lot of that really translates well to what we do every day. Without giving me anything, he was able to give me everything!” he said. That candidate landed the job.
Explain Compensation and Benefits Clearly
Understanding the benefits portion of compensation is critical for a transitioning veteran. By asking questions, a candidate may be seeking more awareness, not trying to haggle over terms. Veterans come from a world of covered healthcare, cost-adjusted housing allowances, and moves that are largely tax free. This changes drastically when they leave the service. The adjustment from non-taxable to taxable income can become a hardship if they haven’t considered those implications with respect to their spending and take-home pay.