Written by Pete Sukits, Candorful President & Cofounder
Pete Sukits: Thanks for joining us, Dan. To start off, can you tell me a little bit about your professional background?
Daniel del Sobral: Of course. I did ROTC in college and was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy at graduation and I entered the Submarine community. I did my JMO (junior military officer) time, and then decided to go back to business school to get an MBA. I had a couple of roles after business school and then joined a startup as a â€œfounderâ€, employee number 3, called Power Advocate. Essentially, the company provides software solutions and consulting services to the power and utilities industry. I got into consulting after that with Booz & Co., which was later bought out by PwC to become Strategy&, in their Power and Utilities practice. Itâ€™s a small industry so I was working with many past colleagues in that capacity.
P: What motivated you to join Candorful?
D: At PwC, there is a subtle push to do volunteering activities, but there wasnâ€™t much that PwC offers that clicked with my interests. But one day, I got an email that mentioned Candorful, and I was immediately intrigued by it. Candorful aligns with my skills and experience since I know quite a bit about hiring and interviewing. Also, it felt personal for me given my own military background â€“ my dad was career Air Force, and I was a JMO in the Navy after a ROTC scholarship. Itâ€™s become a neat way to contribute to a culture of volunteering in a way that is meaningful, fun and fulfilling for me.
P: What was attractive about a veteran-specific non-profit opportunity?
D: As mentioned before, it was very personal to me. Iâ€™m able to leverage the skills Iâ€™ve acquired over my career in order to pay it forward to other veterans and help others in the process.
P: In general, what are some things youâ€™ve seen in veterans coming into the private sector that they could improve upon?
D: I see three things really, that I think could be improved and that I try to help with during my sessions. The first is that you need to have a really positive, crisp story about why youâ€™re leaving the military and starting this new chapter. Frankly, most donâ€™t have it. For example, it needs to be something like, â€œIâ€™m looking for a career that will allow me to spend more time with my family,â€ as opposed to something like, â€œIâ€™m tired of deployingâ€, or â€œI got passed over for a promotionâ€, etc. The second point is that they often donâ€™t do a good job of showcasing their work in the military in an effective way. I see it in their resumes. They donâ€™t connect the dots on what they accomplished or how it applies to a new career. I would say about 2/3rd of the improvements I suggest are in how many candidates market and showcase their work. Finally, I have a theory that you should talk about things that youâ€™re comfortable talking about in an interview. A lot of veterans tend to cover up or gloss over some of the more exciting points of their career. As an example, I had one woman I interviewed who had something on her resume about a job that was â€œtraining-relatedâ€. I asked her about it and she responded that she had been a Drill Sergeant at basic training. I was like, â€œWow, thatâ€™s impressive.â€ I immediately got the picture, but the problem was she didnâ€™t have those exact words on the page. So, if I hadnâ€™t asked, I never would have known.
P: That last point is interesting. I think sometimes veterans get advice to NOT go into an interview and tell war stories and such, and then they can overcorrect and totally gloss over things.
D: Yeah, itâ€™s a balance for sure, but I am convinced most people are fascinated by the military, and telling sea stories or war stories is a great way to connect on a personal level with an interviewer while covering a familiar topic.
P: On the other side of the coin, what has impressed you the most about veteran candidates?
D: Whenever I interview somebody professionally, Iâ€™m looking to answer three questions. One, is this person smart enough to do the work? Two, can I put this person in front of a client? And three, could I stand to spend 6 hours with this person in a car or on a plane? Interestingly, â€œthe car ride testâ€ is the one most people I interview tend to fail. The difference with veterans is that they almost always pass â€œthe car ride test.â€ Theyâ€™re genuinely people that Iâ€™d like to get to know better. The consistency of cool people that I meet who are veterans is high.
P: How would you describe your coaching style?
D: Thatâ€™s a good question. For me, itâ€™s pretty simple. I help people as much as I can in the 30 minutes I have allotted with their overall content, their presentation and their resume. Any opportunities I see to provide guidance, I take advantage of that.
P: Thanks Dan. OK, Iâ€™ve got a few shorter questions for you. Curious to get your opinion on these. The resume. How long should it be?
D: Thatâ€™s a good one. I would say, unless you are right out of school, 1 Â½ to 2 pages is fine. I know some people will say different, but I think 1 Â½ to 2 pages is OK. Iâ€™ve never tossed anyoneâ€™s resume in the trash because it was 2 pages!
P: Hereâ€™s one thatâ€™s gotten a bit grayer over the years. Whatâ€™s your recommendation on interview attire?
D: I may be a little unorthodox in this, but I would say to call ahead and ask HR, â€œWhat should I show up in?â€.
I definitely prefer a candidate who doesnâ€™t wear a tie. I can count on one hand the number of times Iâ€™ve had to wear a tie for a professional engagement, and I think itâ€™s kind of silly for someone to dress up in a suit and tie simply to prove that they have one, or know how to wear one. I think a sport coat is good, or even a suit with no tie as well.
P: What would you say is your interview coach â€œsuperpowerâ€?
D: Interesting. I would say that I excel at helping people create a professional narrative. By that I mean, I help people tell a story about their career and their experiences that had led them to this interview â€“ where this interview today is the logical conclusion for their story up until this point.
P: What is the worst answer to an interview question that youâ€™ve ever gotten?
D: I would say that in real interviews, when I ask the question, why consulting? If the answer is, â€œBecause I want to explore a bunch of different industriesâ€, or something along those lines, I pretty much stop the interview there. PwC is very much rooted in industry alignment and the development of expertise in a certain industry or even a sub-industry. So, that answer is indicative of not having done proper research on the firm. Another one I would say has been, â€œI donâ€™t want to travelâ€, and as we know with many consulting firms, travel is a huge part of the deal. With Candorful, Iâ€™ve noticed the ones I donâ€™t like are when a client will say something negative about themselves without being prompted. Thereâ€™s no reason to proactively say that youâ€™re bad at something when youâ€™re in an interview.
P: What do you do in your spare time when youâ€™re not working, or coaching for Candorful?
D: Well, I have two sons who are in high school, so I spend quite a bit of time running them around. In addition, I actually build and fly remote-controlled airplanes. I have a house that is pretty much surrounded by woods on three sides so Iâ€™ve gotten into a bit of amateur forestry. Iâ€™ve got various axes and saws, things like that.
P: Great. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today, and thanks for everything you do with Candorful.
D: Thank you, Pete. Iâ€™m happy to do it.