Selling Your Defence Career in an Interview
"Congratulations – you’ve won an interview! Now what? Take the time to prepare well to ensure a polished performance."
Step One: Research the company and the role to ensure you are speaking credibly in the interview
Use the internet and any connections you have to the business to familiarise yourself with the company’s products, values, organisational structure and strategic priorities. The more armed with information you are, the better you will be able to answer their questions, and position yourself as a solution to their needs.
Step two: Re-read your resume and hone an understanding of your experience, key achievements and skills
Be ready to answer the question “Tell me about yourself” in a way that enables them to see your relevance and potential fit for their organisation. Brush up on your career achievements to-date, know your key transferable skills, and be ready to give your 30 second “elevator pitch” on why you are the best candidate for the role.
Step 3: Familiarise yourself with modern interview techniques and refine your interview skills
Today many large organisations are using behavioural interview techniques to assess candidate’s suitability to the role. In these forums you will be asked to describe a situation or time where you have had to use a particular skill they see as essential to the role. For example: “Can you tell me about a time when you managed multiple tasks at once? How did you go about it and what was the result?”. When responding to a behavioural interview question you need to be very specific in your answer and follow the “STAR” approach, which stands for describing the Situation or Task, the Actions you took, and the Result. For example an answer (fictional) to the question above may be:
“When I was working as a Personnel Manager in the ADF’s Recruitment Division I was tasked with overseeing the annual recruitment fairs across the South East region. This required me to manage 6 key events simultaneously all occurring across Brisbane on the same day."
"To ensure these went off smoothly I started by implementing a detailed spreadsheet for the event that incorporated relevant milestones and deadlines. I also implemented a schedule of weekly meetings with each of the team members involved in the events, where we met and discussed weekly progression and any potential issues or progress roadblocks that could affect event delivery. Through this we were able to …etc…"
"As a result of the planning, systems and meetings I had implemented, each of the events occurred smoothly attracting in total more than 2000 attendees at each event. Management’s feedback has been that the professionalism of the events has also positively impacted on ADF’s public profile and requested that I take the lead managing the events again in following years."
You may want to prepare a bank of relevant STAR examples for common criteria for your target role.
Step 4: Finish on Strong Note
Almost all interviews end by offering the individual the opportunity to ask any questions. This is an ideal time to end on a positive note through effective preparation that shows your professionalism and suitability for the role. Take the time before the interview to prepare well thought out questions for this segment of the interview. You may want to ask about potential reporting or team structures, you may want to enquire what they see the key priorities of the role being in the first 3-6 months, perhaps you may like to know more about the leadership style of the business, or the next stages in the selection process. The only areas of discussion to avoid at this point are questions about salary or conditions, which may be better negotiated, in the later stages of the recruitment process.
Finally if possible collect the interviewer’s business card so you can send a follow up email the next day thanking them for their time. This makes a strong impression and sends a positive message about your professionalism and follow through. If you are worried about your performance at interview you may wish to seek the support of an interview coach who can help you refine your skills and hone your delivery.