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20 Interview Questions to Ask a Veteran

  1. Describe a time when your actions helped your team succeed.
  2. How did your time in the service influence your current career goals?
  3. What would you like to learn or achieve by working for us?
  4. How does your work ethic compare to your peers?
  5. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
  6. How do you typically manage your stress levels?
  7. Describe three qualities that make you a good fit for this position.
  8. Discuss a time that your team faced adversity and how you overcame it.
  9. Describe your process for handling an unexpected situation at work.
  10. Do you consider yourself an expert in any specific field?
  11. What type of work environment do you feel you thrive in?
  12. What was the most difficult feedback you’ve ever received?
  13. Describe a time you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker.
  14. Do you have personal experience with leading people?
  15. Have you ever had to take over a project for someone else?
  16. What are three things that motivate you to be successful at work?
  17. What are five qualities that make a manager easy to work with?
  18. How will this job help your plans for the future?
  19. How would you react if a coworker caused a major setback on a project you’re working on?
  20. Describe a time you accomplished a task using limited resources.
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10 interview questions to ask a veteran with answers

Q: Describe a time when your actions helped your team succeed.

A: When determining what questions to ask a veteran during an interview, keep in mind that in the military, tasks are often performed as a unit. This question provides an opportunity to talk about what the candidate accomplished with their team and an opening to elaborate on their personal accomplishments. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Ability to work well with others
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving with proven results

Example:

“As part of a regular inspection, everyone was required to take written exams. I identified common topics that might be on the exam and convinced my supervisor that we should conduct training on them. As a unit, we scored very well.”

Q: How did your time in the service influence your current career goals?

A: Most veterans have operated under one or more military operation specialty (MOS) codes during their time in the service. By asking this, the candidate has a chance to put their education and experience into the context of the job they’re applying for. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Examples of experiences relevant to the position
  • Current career goals
  • Demonstration of a clear career trajectory

Example:

“The education and experience I received as a 74F MOS guided my career path by providing me with a solid foundation in computer programming. I developed an aptitude for software engineering and learned how to write code for computer performance analyses.”

Q: How does your work ethic compare to your peers?

A: Work ethic is a key aspect of military life, and advancement is often determined by a member’s performance and dedication to their assignments. The applicant’s answer should shed light on their drive to advance within a company. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Examples of going above and beyond
  • Recognition or awards received for performance
  • Interest in advancement opportunities

Example:

“In basic training, I won three separate awards. I was the unit’s distinguished honor graduate, earned a leadership award and obtained the highest score in basic rifle marksmanship.”

Q: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

A: This question allows the candidate to show how they used their leadership skills to accomplish something important to them. The answer should provide the interviewer with a better grasp of what motivates the applicant to succeed. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Recognition or awards received
  • An understanding of why the awards are relevant to the job
  • Pride in accomplishments

Example:

“During my second deployment, our ship won the Navy Unit Commendation. At the time I was leading a team of specialized data analysts, and I’m proud of my work leading the team to success.”

Q: Describe your process for handling an unexpected situation at work.

A: Military training provides veterans with the framework for dealing with difficult situations. This question will give the interviewer an idea of how the candidate reacts to unforeseen circumstances and how keen their problem-solving skills are. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Adaptability
  • The ability to ask for help
  • Calmness and maturity in the face of adversity

Example:

“If there was a problem, we would first take measures to ensure the safety and stability of any affected people or systems. Then, we would bring the initial reports to experts who could troubleshoot the issue and come up with a plan of action together.”

Q: What type of work environment do you feel you thrive in?

A: The military is very structured and has strict expectations. Questions to ask a veteran regarding the work environment allow the interviewer to determine if the applicant is a good fit for the company’s culture. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Examples of past workplaces and how they compare
  • The desire for new challenges
  • A positive outlook on change

Example:

“My ideal is an environment that fostered honesty and respect for each other. I thrive when I believe my work is making an impact. Improving people’s lives or helping them succeed is extremely satisfying.”

Q: What was the most difficult feedback you’ve ever received?

A: Veteran interview questions need to reflect both the successes and failures of the applicant. By probing about negative feedback the applicant has received, the interviewer may determine how receptive they are to constructive critiques. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Willingness to solve problems
  • Accountability for mistakes or attitudes
  • Ability to grow from negative experiences

Example:

“The toughest feedback I received was from my commanding officer, who had negative feedback about my leadership for not fostering open communication within the squad. It was hard to accept at first, but it taught me the importance of actively listening and adapting my leadership style to build better team cohesion. This lesson has stayed with me beyond my military service.”

Q: Do you have personal experience with leading people?

A: Regardless of their rank, most veterans have spent some time leading teams. This question provides an opportunity for the interviewer to discover the candidate’s enthusiasm for leadership. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Demonstrated history of leadership
  • Ability to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Confidence in ability to lead

Example:

“I was responsible for a watch team of 15 sailors on board a submarine and managing the day-to-day operations of the ship. In addition to that, I performed my duties as an engineering officer.”

Q: How would you react if a coworker caused a major setback to a project you were working on?

A: In the military, if one person falls behind, it affects the entire team. This question allows the interviewer to gauge the candidate’s ability to handle setbacks with grace. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Maturity and professionalism
  • Ability to be patient with others
  • Willingness to help where needed

Example:

“I would approach my coworker first and find out if they were aware of the setback, and then discover how it was caused. If it was a simple mistake, I think people can usually work together to determine a reasonable solution.”

Q: Describe a time you accomplished a task using limited resources.

A: Employers may be surprised to learn that resources are often limited in the military. This question provides an opportunity for a veteran to discuss a time they reacted in a relevant way during a high-pressure situation. What to consider looking for in an answer:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Resourcefulness in stressful situations

Example:

“In the military, we always run on limited resources, especially manpower and time. Once, a piece of vital equipment failed inspection during maintenance. We had to rebuild it from the ground up in three days while performing our normal duties.”

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