Veterans and spouses know they need to practice interview questions before they go into an interview. Well, they ought to practice. They are, in fact, much more likely to nail the interview if they do practice. Still, veterans and spouses don't practice. We wing it.
As the transition master coach for Military.com's Veteran Employment Project, I have helped thousands of veterans and military spouses find their first high-impact civilian job. I am yet to meet a single one of them who wanted to practice interview questions.
Instead, as a group, we all wing it at first. We go in raw and shivering, earnestly answering interview questions the best way we know how. Then we wonder why the job offer didn't come through.
If you have watched our FREE Interview Master Class, you know this is probably because you aren't giving the answers the hiring manager expects. Without practice, we are not answering interview questions at all; we are just talking.
One way to practice is to pick some of the interview questions I've listed below and answer them out loud with another person -- especially a career coach like me, a mentor or a person who is employed in the civilian world.
Top 10 Most Common Interview Questions
These are the questions I hear about most often from veterans and spouses on the job interview circuit. Preparing for these questions can help you feel really confident so you can tackle the rest of the interview.
1. Tell me about yourself.
2. What kind of job are you looking for?
3. Why did you leave the military?
4. What are your work strengths?
5. What is a weakness you are working on?
6. Why do you want to work for us? What do you know about our company?
7. Why do you want this job?
8. Why should we hire you?
9. What salary are you seeking?
10. Do you have any questions for us?
Job Listing Questions
Most of the questions you will be asked will be taken directly from the job listing. So print the job listing. Then circle each of the skills included on the job listing. These are often the skills and certifications that technical questions will address.
11. What type of training and accreditation do you have as a welder? Construction engineer? Therapist? Etc.
12. How would you solve this type of (welding, construction, data analysis) problem?
13. Write code to solve this problem.
14. How would you analyze this data if you were trying to solve for X?
15. What is the extent of your expertise with Python?
16. How do you use Salesforce to keep track of your customers?
17. What kind of certifications do you have?
18. What is your favorite programming language and why?
19. Are you ready to present your presentation?
20. Are you ready to begin the test?
21. Please translate this paragraph into Farsi (French, Spanish, Ukrainian, etc.)
Work Style Questions
After job skills, one of the most important things hiring managers look for is how you will fit on the team. These questions can help illustrate what you are like as a workmate, teammate or colleague.
22. Think of three important people in your life. What are three or four words they would use to describe you?
23. How do you manage your time on the job so you complete your projects?
24. How do you work as a member of a team?
25. What is your communication style?
26. What training do you think you need?
27. What do you do when a teammate is underperforming?
28. How do you organize a complex assignment?
29. When is it OK to yell?
30. What unique abilities or qualities would you bring to this job?
31. How would your experience benefit our team?
32. What do you do in your spare time?
33. What is the most recent skill you learned and why?
34. How do you know you have done a good job? What is especially motivating to you?
35. When is it appropriate to bend the rules?
36. What do you think are the markers of an inclusive work environment?
37. Why did you choose your school and course of study?
38. Are you an introvert or extrovert? How will that help you at this job?
39. Can you work in stressful circumstances?
40. Can you perform work under a deadline?
41. How do you solve problems with a difficult customer or client?
42. Did you ever have to adapt to a completely new system at work? How did you do it?
43. How do you ask for feedback, and how do you respond when you get it?
Positive Accomplishment Questions
Hiring managers ask behavioral questions when they want to find out how you have acted in a certain situation. These are usually directly related to the kind of work you will be asked to do.
Behavioral questions can be positive -- asking about an accomplishment, innovation or success story. Or they can be negative -- asking about how you handled a failure or recovered from a mistake. Remember to always use your STAR statements (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to answer any question that begins with the words "Tell me about ..." Let's start with the positive questions.
44. Tell me about a time you had to develop a new proficiency at work. How did you prepare yourself?
45. Give an example of a significant professional accomplishment.
46. Tell me about a time you had to work on a tight deadline. How did you manage to deliver without alienating your team?
47. Walk me through a process you invented or improved.
48. Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself and achieved it.
49. Describe a time when you worked on a team project. What was your position on the team? Were you satisfied with your contribution? How could it have worked better?
50. Tell me about a time you had to make a split-second decision and could not consult your superiors. What would you have done differently? What would you have kept the same?
51. What kind of changes have you made in your behavior to create a more inclusive work environment?
52. Tell me about a time you had to pitch an idea at work to your own team? How did you pitch it to your superiors?
53. Tell me about a project that you had at either work or school. Describe in detail how you managed it and what was the outcome.
54. Give me an example of how you manage a cross-functional team.
55. Tell me about something you are extremely proud of.
56. Tell me about a time you had to present your ideas to very senior people. Did they use your solution?
57. Give me an example of something that did not satisfy you about a command and how you fixed it.
58. Tell me how your experience has prepared you for this job.
59. Tell me about a time you were under a lot of stress. How did you handle the pressure?
60. Tell me about a deal you had to close. How did you get all parties to agree?
61. Give me an example of a time you helped someone else succeed.
62. Tell me about a time you used data to solve a problem.
63. Tell me about a time you had to deliver excellent customer service.
64. What personality traits do you think make you good at your job?
65. How has your military service changed you?
Negative Challenge Questions
Here are the questions that ask about how you handled problems, mistakes or a series of unfortunate events.
66. Tell me about a time you failed on the job and what you did to fix it.
67. What is the most challenging business problem you ever faced, and how did you manage it?
68. Give me an example of a time you did not meet a deadline. What did you do about it?
69. Have you ever faced a situation where you saw a co-worker breaking safety protocol? What did you do to resolve the situation?
70. Tell me about a time you had to tell senior people things they don't want to hear.
71. Think back to a situation in which there was a conflict you had to resolve. Tell me how you resolved that conflict.
72. Give an example of how you have had to navigate disruption at work.
73. Tell me about a situation where you realized your solution would not work. When did you turn back?
74. What is one thing you have done in your professional history that you wish you had done better?
75. Think of a boss or co-worker you did not get along with in the past. How did you overcome your differences?
76. Tell me about a time you had to go along with a decision with which you did not agree.
Executive Leadership Questions
If you are applying for a job in management, expect to be asked questions about how you lead, motivate and support your team.
77. What is your management style?
78. What is your leadership style?
79. As a leader, how do you motivate others?
82. How do you use your role to drive business?
83. How did you decide what to do after the military? How long did it take?
84. What types of offers have you received to date?
85. What do you do when a subordinate is underperforming?
86. How long do you plan to stay at our company? Where do you see yourself in five years?
87. Give me an example of working with the generations -- Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers.
88. If you could start over again, what would you do differently?
89. How did you hear about this position?
90. Why should we consider you over other qualified candidates?
91. What other types of jobs or companies are you considering?
92. Where do you think you'll best fit into the organization?
Questions About Trouble
Very few people have a career without a moment of trouble. If you know your resume has a speed bump or two on it, prepare to be asked about it. This is a place a professional coach or mentor can help you frame your situation in the best possible light.
93. Why do you have a gap on your résumé?
94. Why did you leave the military after only a year?
95. What baggage do you bring to the job?
96. Why have you had so many jobs since you left the military?
97. Why didn't you finish your degree?
98. Why were you fired?
99. What isn't on your resume?
Practicing your interview questions out loud with a real person will help you think on your feet during your interview. The more you practice, the smoother you will sound -- and the easier it will be to build rapport with the interviewer. You are the solution to the hiring manager's problem, and the interview is the best place to show how you would perform.
Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.
Learn More About the Veteran Employment Project
To get more tips on how to make a successful military transition, sign up for one of our FREE Military Transition Master Classes today. You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.