Many military spouses dread interviews because they don’t know how to address the topic of their relocation.
The minute you land the interview the nerves kick in. If the employer asks if you are long-term, what are you going to say? Employers technically shouldn’t ask certain questions, but military spouses are saying it still happens.
The Major Group knows there are military spouses seeking interview advice and we’re here to help.
We’ve reached out to Michelle Still Mehta, PhD to get answers. She’s a consultant, coach, and researcher and been in the industry for 20 years. Michelle specializes in career and life coaching for military spouses and is a military spouse herself.
When interviewing, remember to be confident.
- Don’t let your status as a military spouse discourage you.
- You have just as much to offer as the other candidates.
- All of your responses should be positive and focus on your skills.
- Let your personality, knowledge, and experience shine.
- If you are presented with one or two of the questions below answer simply, directly, and move on to what’s important- the knowledge you have that makes you a great candidate for this position.
We asked Michelle some of the tough questions military spouses get asked and she’s provided us with some great answers. Next time you are in an interview, use these suggestions as a guide to help you nail the interview and get hired!
“I see you’ve worked in different towns and states. What brings you here?”
To start, military spouses need to do research about the employer. If the company is military-friendly, being upfront with your relocation will benefit you. Check out the company’s website to see if they have military organization affiliations or if they state they hire vets. These employers could see you as a huge asset to their team. Bring your military status to the forefront and let them know that’s why you’re here.
What you don’t want to do is avoid the question or lie, and give the employer a reason to believe you are hiding something. If you’re not sure if they are a military friendly employer, then don’t offer up the fact you’re a military spouse until asked. When you are asked, be honest with your answers then focus on why you’re a good hire. Use a response like:
“My spouse is in the military and we’ve just relocated to this area. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to show you the skills I have to offer this company. My experience combined with reliability and dedication sets me apart from other candidates.”
“How long do you plan on being employed with us?”
No civilian knows how long he or she will be with their employer, so why should a military spouse be different? Rather than responding with a specific number, you might say:
“As in any job, I am committed to staying here as long as we mutually agree it is a good fit, I am meeting your expectations, and am continuing to grow and develop.”
If you are pushed further for when you are going to move, be honest. Many employers will be relieved to know you will be there for a couple years.
There is no longer such thing as a permanent hire. Turnover in many career fields is high and many employers would be happy to have a good employee for a couple of years. Michelle recently had a client ask her how he can hire more military spouses, and said “I would much rather hire a military spouse for three years, knowing she will be reliable and loyal than hire someone off the street who may be gone in a few months.” Don’t assume you have less to offer just because you are a military spouse.
“I noticed on your resume you have worked many different jobs, why is that?
“I’ve been very successful maintaining my career while moving frequently as a military spouse. Although I’ve changed employers multiple times, each employer has been highly satisfied with my performance and commitment to the organization. I would be happy to provide you with references from those employers.”
This is a great answer to redirect the interviewer’s attention to your role as a good employee. Depending on the employer, you may let them know you are interested in finding long-term employment despite your next relocation. Ask about transfer or telecommuting options after you’ve proven yourself.
“Are you going to need a lot of time off?”
This is a question based off of a stereotype and not likely to be asked, but if it does come up, be simple and direct. Michelle suggests saying:
“I am not going to need more time off than any other employee. I applied for this job because I am able and eager to make the commitment required.”
If for some reason you expect to need more time off than the policy allows, you need to answer accordingly. Make sure you are applying for a position that you can reasonably commit to rather than starting off asking for special accomodations. For example, don’t apply for a full-time position if you can’t make a full-time commitment.
Michelle Still Mehta, PhD is a consultant, coach, and researcher who has been in the industry for 20 years. She specializes in military spouse lifestyle coaching. Visit her website www.stillmehta.com and Facebook page.
Have additional questions or interview tips to share with others? Email us or jump over to Facebook and share what you’ve learned.