Military Bearing: Interview Friend or Foe?

Recently, the Fist Full of Talent blog posted a topic on “How Recruiters Can Get Comfortable in Interviews with Veterans”.  I found it extremely interesting that a blog for “Recruiters, HR, Consultants, and Corporate Types” offered advice to interviewers on how to properly interpret military bearing.  The following is an excerpt:

“The problem is that acting with military bearing during an interview is that it can be interpreted by the untrained eye as a tendency to be “overly robotic” or “personality-less.”  To someone who hasn’t served, this type of behavior can often be judged incorrectly.  The paradox is that the Service Member may be exhibiting the highest level of respect for the interviewer, however the interviewer may perceive this as being disrespectful or “guarded”, “stoic”, or “as if they are hiding something.”

Justin Henderson, an Account Executive (and a former Marine) at Bradley-Morris, Inc., a leading military-to-civilian placement firm, responded with some great advice for military-experienced job seekers on how to properly adjust their military bearing during interviews.  I’m posting his response in full here:

“Thanks for your post. I find this article very interesting as I am also a former Marine, and I currently assist transitioning veterans who are seeking new careers throughout Corporate America. We at Bradley-Morris, Inc. help introduce employers to the military-experienced talent pool via our recruiting services, and in the process, we offer veterans free assistance with military resume writing, company research, and interviewing techniques.

The main interviewing advice we give to military job seekers is 1.) Translate your experience into civilian terms and 2.) Stay away from military jargon (whether writing your resume or during the interview). Related to this, I also have faith that your military training has taught you when to put on your Drill Instructor Cap and when to relax and be more open. As such, we remind military job seekers to adjust to the demeanor of the interviewer, and/or the position. Some companies prefer to recruit level-headed individuals. Production companies, for instance, want someone who can stay focused during the demanding process-oriented environment in a production facility. On the other hand, candidates for sales roles must adjust their “bearing” to highlight their personality and people-skills.

In short, if you stay away from the “yes sir”s and “no sir”s after every statement, and customize your delivery for the specific position, you will do well. Above all, relax and be cognizant of who is interviewing you.

I’ve helped hundreds of civilian companies recruit military candidates for their civilian positions and have rarely if ever heard a negative comment regarding our candidates’ military bearing.

Thanks again for bringing always appreciated attention to the value of military job seekers in Corporate America!”

Semper Fi,

If military bearing has been an effective tool in interviewing or a detriment to your career search, let me know via email or leave a comment.