The Three C’s of Interviewing

Here at Alliance, we like to talk about the “Three C’s of Interviewing.” Granted there are lots of different interviewing rules, tips, strategies, prohibitions, etc.  But when we refer to the 3 C’s, we are advising you on an overarching approach to interviewing that significantly improves your odds of winning.  We look at it somewhat like the Principles of War that you learn as a young officer. In other words, they are the basic tenets that, when adhered to, will likely yield a successful outcome.  Just like in war, things can and will go wrong in an interview.  There will always be unexpected twists and turns – frictions of war if you will.  But if you stick to the principles of the 3 C’s,  you still have a fighting chance.

So what are the 3 Cs?  

Are you Capable?

Are you Compatible?

Are you Convertible?

Are you Capable?  When it comes to capability, the hiring manager is trying to determine if you have the requisite knowledge, skills, and talents to do the job effectively. To succeed here, it comes down to examining your military achievements and figuring out how they could apply to the particular role for which you are interviewing. For example, if the role requires someone with strong analytical skills in order to make smart business decisions, you might reflect on how you used analytical skills to make a good tactical decision.  

Naturally, you may not have the same business knowledge and experience as a seasoned professional.  But if you can also illustrate how you had to quickly learn and apply new concepts in the military, that may go a long way toward convincing them of your capabilities.

Are you Compatible?  The simple word for compatibility is FIT.  Fit is one of those funny things that can be hard to describe but you know it when you see it. It’s one of the reasons many companies spend thousands of dollars on personality tests, psychological profiles, etc. They are trying to determine the candidate’s compatibility.  

But when you break it down, fit can meet a lot of things.  Do you fit into the culture of the team?  Do the job requirements match up with what you enjoy doing?  Does the work schedule fit what you are willing to do?

For example, if the culture of the organization is a casual environment that rewards creative thinking, but you come across as someone who craves structure, rules, and rigid SOPs, they would likely see you as a mismatch.  Or what if the job requires you to spend time away from the office doing site visits, getting your hands a little dirty,  but you give the impression that your ideal work environment is in an office working on a computer all day? That’s obviously a mismatch too.  Or what if the role requires a good bit of traveling, but you emphasize that the reason you are leaving the military is because of all the time you had to spend away from your family.  Another example would be if you come off as “bookish” whereas they are looking for the action type of person.

Are you Convertible? For this question, they just want to know if they can get you to say yes to an offer.  Or in other words, are you interested in that role, at the specified location, and within the salary range that they have budgeted. In terms of convertibility, one of the things you have to be careful about is coming across as too aloof or hard to get.  

Sometimes individuals innocently send out red flags that cause hiring managers to view them as a conversion risk.  For example, let’s take a candidate who talks about how he loved growing up in Texas, then went to college at Texas A&M, got himself stationed in Texas, and then mentions how all of his family and spouse’s family live in Texas. That candidate may have inadvertently signaled that ultimately he wants is a job in Texas.  But if the company doesn’t have a Texas role, they might take a pass on that individual, thinking that he wouldn’t be interested.   

In our program, our candidates learn all about interviewing and how to handle myriad questions and situations.  But always keep in mind, that each question you answer may potentially signal something about one of the C’s.  So we’ll leave you with one more C: Be Careful!