Yesterday, I posted a recording of an interview with a transitioning military officers. The question asked was:
What are you better at now than a year ago?
If you have listed to the recorded interviews during each of the last four weeks here, you probably noticed the answer to this question was different from the other three.
Military officers don’t get the opportunity to practice interview skills. When they transition, they need to get up to speed quickly, and many find this challenging. The officer I interviewed did very well given that he was just starting his transition. The first three questions showed a confident, articulate officer. There were opportunities to give better answers, but on the whole not bad.
This questions was different. It seemed to catch the job seeker off guard and his enthusiasm and confidence appeared lower. Every job seeker will run into a question they aren’t prepared for at some point. The important this is to not get rattled and tell you story.
This answer was short, just over a minute. It explained the experience that the officer gained. What was missing was how this would help an employer.
The key to a question like this is using the answer to demonstrate potential. Here’s an example of how this individual could have answered:
In the last year, I had the opportunity to complete a program in the strategic arts. This program showed in great detail how strategic planning is done throughout Washington and how plans get implemented. This gave me a tremendous understanding of the process that I did not have previously. In my current role, this has made me much more effective because I understand how to get thing accomplished on a wide scope. In future roles, this experience will help me assess and respond to different organizations my faster and easier so that I can maximize the effectiveness and success of projects I am leading.
This example focuses half of the answer on future accomplishments, not past events. You want to create a clear picture in a hiring manager’s mind of what you will accomplish for them. This example does this. Now the example answer could still be improved. It’s not very specific in regard to what was learned. It’s even less specific regarding the opportunity. Ideally, this answer would be tailored to the needs of a specific company during an interview.