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Use an Immediate Action Drill to “Ace” your next interview

Immediate Action Drills are military drills designed to provide a pre-planned, quick, and decisive re-action to enemy contact.1

I have often heard luck defined as “when opportunity meets preparation”. Never is that more true, then when preparing for your next interview.

For veterans embarking on a career transition into the civilian workforce, the interview process may be somewhat unfamiliar.

As a military officer entering the civilian world I quickly realized I was new to the interview process, but I was eager to learn and refine my skills. I understood I had some great experiences and responsibilities throughout my young military career; however, I was struggling with how to effectively and efficiently communicate all of this to a potential future employer. Early on, I learned that my energy was great, but I often included too many details that dampened the impact of my stories and confused what I was trying to explain.

In the military, we are taught many procedures and check lists, in order to plan and prepare for the unknown. During my transition I was looking to refine my interview skills, and learn how best to translate Military lessons and intangible experiences to the civilian work force. That is when I came across an interview technique that is commonly referred to as the STAR format. This is a great tool to help consolidate and quantify military experiences into insightful short stories that are relatable to the civilian workforce.

The STAR format:

S: Describe a Situation that you were in.

T: Describe the Task, mission, or challenge that you were faced with.

A: Briefly summarize the Actions you took or solutions you recommended to overcome that challenge or task.

R: Quickly summarize your story with quantifiable Results. 3

This format is best used to respond to behavioral interview questions. This was a very useful technique which enabled me to keep my stories short, sweet, and to the point. However, learning the STAR format is only the start.

Everyone who has ever donned a uniform understands the definition of a rehearsal. Whether planning for a significant operation, or preparing for the “unfortunate” 10-hour parade event, rehearsals will always be a cornerstone of the military experience. There is a reason for this, and it is because rehearsals are effective.

When preparing for an interview, anticipate that you will be asked a number of "behavior questions". Ultimately they are looking for you to provide a short personal story that may relate to the position, so they can picture you fulfilling the role.

The best piece of advice I received was to prepare a handful (6) relatable stories using the STAR format that could be used to answer a number of common interview questions. This concept is very similar to the Immediate Action Drill, in that you have a few reliable, pre-planned and rehearsed responses for some of the most common obstacles you may face on the battlefield. Additionally, I was told not only to prepare, but to practice repeatedly, and go on as many interviews as possible before coming across the position that I really desired. The more I rehearsed, the more concise and confident I was able to communicate my experiences and assets to a potential employer.

At the end of the day, your career is what you put into it. Remember that you have a unique and powerful connection through shared sacrifices to those that have come before. So do not hesitate to reach out to other veterans as you may be surprised at how willing they are to lend an experienced hand.


Mik Visgauss

USNA ‘08

Former; USMC Infantry Captain

Current; Senior Program Manager, Trialcard

Industry; Healthcare Marketing & Technology

Location: Morrisville, NC

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