My name is Sean Boddicker. I am a director within the Corporate Controller’s Group here at Gartner, and I am a veteran: U.S. Army, 1989–1997. While I have been “out in the world” for some time, I can still remember my first job interview after graduating from college. Both the interviewers and I were nervous since they had not interviewed many veterans, and I had not interviewed for many jobs. They actually said to me, “I am sorry, Sean, all of our questions are woefully inadequate in comparison to your military experiences.” I learned very quickly (actually, right there on the spot) that if I wanted the job, I needed to make the effort to overcome any potential assumptions, bias or misunderstandings, and make it clear to them that I would be a good fit and I was the right person for the job.
Since landing that first job in 2003, I have since interviewed for three other positions … and have landed the job all three times. I have learned some things along the way that hopefully you can use to make your interview a rewarding experience for you and Gartner.
Do your research
Gartner is a publicly traded company with three main lines of business and many products and customers. Take the time to review the Gartner website and get comfortable with our products and our customer base. If you’re a total nerd like me, visit our Investor Relations page. It is a great place to get familiar with our financial performance and what our leaders are saying about our future.
Doing your research shows an interviewer that you care about your job search and that you are willing to make a commitment to your success.
Smile. I know it sounds simple, but it is not always easy when you are nervous. Additionally, veterans tend to be very disciplined and hyper-focused on the task at hand. That “all business” approach can come off as standoffish, and the interviewer may be left with concerns that you will not fit in with the company’s culture.
The best remedy is to smile and look your interviewer in the eyes when you answer questions. If your interviewer opens with a little small talk, respond in kind. Don’t worry; your interviewer will let you know when it is time to get down to business. A pleasant smile and the appropriate amount of direct eye contact will go a long way in presenting the balance of confidence and humility your interviewer is looking for.
While English is the primary language of Corporate America and the U.S. military branches, civilians and veterans typically do not speak alike. Corporate America uses a lot of acronyms … they are just not typically the same ones service members are used to. If the acronyms do happen to be the same, the meaning is usually very different.
Additionally, despite what you may have experienced during your service days, profanity is generally not commonplace in the civilian workspace. During any communication with your interviewer, try to minimize your use of acronyms and do not swear. This will save time and help prevent potential misunderstandings.
You are likely to be asked to consider a series of “behavioral” situations, such as, “Tell me about a time you had to go above and beyond to achieve a goal” … or something similar. As a veteran, you can likely respond to this request a hundred different ways with a hundred different stories. However, I urge you to take a second and consider if your response is relevant to the job you are interviewing for. The interviewer needs to be able to apply the key elements of your story to the environment in which you would be working if hired.
Additionally, your story needs to be relatable to the interviewer. Too much military jargon and your interviewer may miss the point you are trying to make regarding how your performance in the story can be translated to work at Gartner.
So if you are faced with the scenario above, instead of describing a time you came under fire while deployed to an overseas theater of operations, maybe describe the time you put in the additional hours it took to prepare some great training for your unit. That is something an interviewer can relate to and see you doing in support of Gartner’s objectives.
While they may sound easy, all of the above require practice. Being able to articulate the things you learned from your research takes practice. Smiling and engaging an interviewer takes practice. For many veterans, swearing and using acronyms is second nature, and breaking those habits takes practice. Telling your story in a way that your interviewer can understand, relate to and apply to Gartner takes practice.
Spend the time to practice. Perform mock interviews, work on your story in the mirror, get a friend to help by asking questions, record and play back your responses; whatever it takes to get you comfortable communicating your story and showing Gartner that you are a good fit and the right person for the job.
Gartner highly values the skills you can bring to the team as a veteran. You are focused and results-driven. There is nothing you can’t do, including nailing your interview. Good luck!
Are you a veteran or transitioning military member looking to kick-start your corporate career at Gartner? Search for opportunities here.