I recently had a chance to (remotely) banter back and forth with one of our most compassionate Candorful Coaches, Marcia Wasserman. Marcia has an amazing knack for getting Candorful client candidates to learn to open up and share more about themselves in an interview. We thought it would be great to share that conversation and a warm up exercise anyone can use. -Pat Hubbell, Candorful Cofounder and Executive Director
Insights by Candorful Coach, Marcia Wasserman
Marcia, what have you most commonly observed while providing job interview practice to veterans, transitioning military and military spouses?
One of the things I have noticed about working with the military is how humble they all seem to be. No one wants to start an interview bragging about themselves. Second, they, like most people, are nervous entering an interview, whether it be for practice or for real.
How do you get them to open up and feel more comfortable sharing their personal impact and experiences?
I found that if I start every interview by asking “Outside of your military experience and your family, what is one thing that you’re extremely proud of?” I always add that this is their opportunity to go full-on-brag-mode.
The next thing I know, I am hearing about amazing accomplishments. Most of the time these are accomplishments that are nowhere to be found on their resumes. The stories are tremendously diverse and always interesting. It’s not uncommon for them to be volunteer activities that demonstrate strong leadership and drive. These are things every recruiter would love to know about and needs to hear.
Marcia, are you saying that candidates are holding back? Can you give me an example?
My favorite example is from my Candorful practice interview with one person who had a little note at the end of her resume saying she was a “co-founder of Blazing Beautifies”. I had no idea what it referred to; it could be just about anything – there was no context in the resume. When she started talking about it, to say I got chills is an understatement. She was helping and impacting young women in her community and it was a story that needed to be told in every one of her interviews.
In almost every case, I tell them to find a way to work this proud accomplishment directly into their job interview.
Most people are taken a little bit by surprise by my opening question, but once they start talking, the interview is off to a great start.
So, how can we get everyone to channel this mindset when they go into their “real” interview where they’re not going to get the prompt that you give them?
I tell them, “Think about the aspects of your life where you have shown leadership, shown perseverance, shown that you are a caring individual and find a way to work that into the interview, even (and especially) if it is not something that would normally appear in a resume. Think about your experiences and be sure you are sharing what makes you most proud.”
So, if I’m proud of it and feel passionate about the impact I made, I should share it. Marcia, that’s great advice. Thank you!
Marcia Wasserman is a retired banking executive with 30+ years of managing call centers, savings branches, accounting/payroll operations, IT functions, and loan origination operations. She also dedicated a number of years facilitating high-level leadership training for mid and upper level management. Having been born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, home to a number of military bases, she spent her high school and college summers working at both army and air force bases and developed a deep respect and admiration for military personnel. After retirement, Marcia decided that a good way to “pay it forward” would be to help these same individuals she so admired transition into the civilian world. Candorful provides the opportunity to assist with this transition in some small part. (And Candorful is grateful to have Marcia on our team)