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On this page: Vet Patra Frame offers veterans a "cheat sheet" of questions to ask of their networks and interviewers as they transition to civilian jobs.

A Job Interview Cheat Sheet for Your Transition to the Civilian Job World

As you prepare to find a new opportunity, research target organizations that interest you. Included in this article, below, is an "Interview Cheat Sheet" to help you organize your thoughts and your questions. Obviously, some questions you ask will depend on the level or type of position, but the Cheat Sheet is a starting point.  Modify it as necessary and appropriate for you.

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Job Interview Cheat Sheet Contents

Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself and interviewers to learn both the organization’s approach to your field and your interest level.  See how the answers you recieve compare with the results of your own research about the organization.

You will want to research most to help in deciding to target a specific organization. Also ask questions while you are networking.

When you get to the interview stage, ask a number of specific questions of each interviewer. The more you ask, the better you will be able to assess the reality versus the "sales pitch." That assessment is especially critical for military folks who want to successfully transition to the civilian job world.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

This process helps you assess the opportunity and how much it matches your goals and needs. And many hiring managers will assess you on the quality of your questions. "How much vacation will I get" is a negative. "What are the critical few goals for the first three months" is a positive.  Having no questions at all is often interpreted as a lack of interest.

Let the "cheat sheet" help you think about the basic information you need so that you can make a good choice. Don’t forget to add questions specific to your personal and professional goals!

This is by no means an exhaustive list! But it should give you a good start on creating your own.

A. The Organization:

B. Executive View of the Function:

C. Immediate Manager’s Views:

Assessing and Maintaining Your Interview Cheat Sheet

As you gain experience in the interview process, modify and update your Cheat Sheet as needed:

ADD those qualities that are important to you and match your goals and values. Consider your needs versus wants such as specific programs, professional growth, ability to mentor others, a short commute or whatever.

SUBTRACT the questions which are not important for your level or goals.

And compare the answers you get in interviews to those you get from your network and in your research of the organization’s public information. Too often the "talk" is not the "walk."

Bottom Line

This cheat sheet is a starting point.  Don't be afraid to bring in into an interview with you or to make notes about the answers you recieve. Some interviewers gauge interest by the questions asked and the notes taken.


About the author...

Patra Frame has extensive experience in human capital management and career issues in large and small corporations. She is an Air Force vet and charter member of The Women In Military Service for America Memorial.  Patra speaks and writes regularly on job search and career issues through her company Strategies for Human Resources (SHRInsight) and PatraFrame.com where she blogs advice for veterans and other job seekers. Watch Patra's ClearedJobs.net job search tips videos on YouTube, and follow her on Twitter @2Patra and on Google+.