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What You Should And Shouldn’t Ask When Interviewing A Veteran

What You Should And Shouldn’t Ask When Interviewing A Veteran

The men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces have a lot to offer even after they return home. Many of the skills they learned while deployed can make them valuable additions to any workplace. This is why so many employers have programs to locate and reach out to veterans for job opportunities.

However, civilians often have a difficult time understanding what it was like for military personnel. This can lead to some awkward conversations during the interview phase. No matter how well-intentioned interviewers may be, they sometimes ask questions relating to service that can put interviewees on the spot or dredge up memories and emotions they may be struggling to process.

If you’re an employer looking to hire veterans to bolster your workforce, it is important to be sensitive to these especially difficult topics of conversation. There is nothing wrong with showing a genuine interest in an applicant’s military experience, but you need to be cognizant of how comfortable he or she is with your line of questioning. Read on to learn more about questions that are and are not appropriate during your interview with a veteran. 

What You Should Ask 

A veteran who comes to you looking for work is a person just like anyone else. That means you should be getting to know him or her the same way you would with any other applicant. Start by keeping the questions general, including how long he or she served, in which branch of the armed forces, and whether he or she spent any time overseas.

As the conversation continues and you have a better sense of how comfortable the applicant is, you can begin to talk about more specific topics. These may include the types of skills he or she developed in the military. As is the case with most interviews, keeping the questioning positive and focused on the individual’s talents and interests is the best way to proceed.

What You Should Not Ask 

Even if they come from a place of genuine curiosity, certain areas of conversation are likely to make veterans feel uncomfortable. You might believe that no subject matter should be taboo for someone who has served, but that is simply not the case. What’s worse, many of these topics have little to no relevance in a job interview scenario.

For example, asking whether or not the interviewee has ever killed someone in combat will tell you absolutely nothing about that person’s qualifications for the position. It also has a high probability of making the applicant nervous or defensive. Questions that skirt the edge of veering into a political debate should also be avoided. Whether or not the interviewee feels a certain military action was justified has no bearing on his or her suitability for a job. 

Asking about the more emotional aspects of his or her time in the service also has the potential to take the interview down a dark path. For instance, don’t ask if the applicant suffers from PTSD, or if deployment had a negative impact on his or her family. These types of inquiries are unlikely to lead anywhere constructive.

Veterans can bring a wealth of skill and discipline to your business. They can contribute to your success, so it is in your best interest to consider them for any appropriate openings. However, it is essential that during the interview process you keep the focus on what they can bring to the table. Pay attention to the above advice, and enjoy the many benefits of hiring veterans. 

Author bio: Veteran Car Donations is a national organization that accepts vehicle donations to better the lives of veterans. The organization partners with a number of well-known veteran charities to help provide essential medical care, mental health services and more.

Visit our job board regularly to find companies that have positions available offering veterans jobs, and follow our blog and social media profiles to get news of job fairs in your area.