From the recruiter’s perspective

Sam Tripuraneni’s presentation, at our latest symposium, did exude an effortless charm we would all like to demonstrate in an interview. However, he warned us vehemently against donning a cock-sure attitude, the kind that officers can sometimes be guilty of.

As he put it, he has been ‘disappointed, frustrated and downright shocked by what some people say and do in interviews’, but assured us he has committed all the mistakes he was about to lampoon us for, having come from the Services himself.

So, please pay heed to this advice from a seasoned and professional recruiter – and let us know if you think we’ve missed anything!

  • Have humility. It’s ok to be proud of what you’ve achieved in the military but remember that a lot of the skills you have from your time there will go over the heads of some HR professionals, who may only see ‘a psycho with a gun.’ Don’t feed the stereotype – demonstrate how your skills apply to the job description, not just what you think is great.
  • Show yourself to be adaptable to the environment you’re about to step into. Again, do not fulfill the preconception of officers as stuffy, polished types that ‘dress like my dad’. Defie the stereotypes of the institutionalised, public school, privileged toff that a lot of people will expect. Get an idea of the dress code of the organisation you want to work for – lose any braces or red socks you may be tempted to wear!
  • Lower your salary expectations. It’s really important here to work out your priorities in life – do you want to enjoy or endure it? If you go in on an extremely high salary the organisation will normally expect their pound of flesh and ultimately, you will not have had the chance to build up your knowledge or experience. Start lower, surf the learning curve and you’ll be better off in the long run.
  • Do not reference your ‘friend who had a friend who got an amazingly high-powered, well paid job..’ – this is the bane of almost every recruiter’s life! There will always be people who have stepped straight out of the Services into a fantastically-paid job but these cases are fairly rare, and what’s ‘right’ for one individual may not be right for you. Rather than feeling pressurised by what your peers are up to, focus on the path most likely to keep you happy and fulfilled.
  • Reassure any interviewer that you don’t want to take over. Organisations often fear this will be the consequence of employing former-military, so demonstrate your core-management and leadership skills instead, don’t be pushy or overbearing.

Despite this, do remember that your emotional intelligence and people skills are some of the main reasons organisations are keen to employ former-military – you have the ability to talk to senior people, with gravitas and confidence. Employ this skill when in an interview – turn it into a conversation and get them talking, remember that this is your chance to find something out about them too.

Sam Tripuraneni is Director of Strategy and Development at add-victor and served in the 9th/12th Lancers.