Ex-forces personnel are being made to feel uncomfortable during an interview as they try to integrate into 'normal' life, with one in six reporting that they have been asked inappropriate questions. 'Have you killed anyone?' is the most common.
According to a new study from the Barclays Armed Forces Transition Employment and Resettlement (AFTER) programme carried out among veterans who are currently in employment on ‘Civvy Street’, veterans are facing a number of significant challenges when it comes to applying for a civilian role, from writing a CV that resonates to having their previous career misconstrued by civilian employers.
A quarter (25%) of veterans felt that an interviewer had preconceptions about them because of their time in the armed forces, while almost a fifth (18%) felt their interviewer misunderstood what their military role entailed whilst serving. Those who served in the Army were more likely to feel subject to prejudicial employers than Air Force veterans, with 28% of Army leavers feeling their interviewer had preconceptions about them, compared to 14% ex-Air Force personnel.
In seeking civilian employment, some veterans are also struggling with the pressures of presenting their experience so that it is relevant to an employer. Almost a quarter (23%) felt they were unable to explain their armed forces experience well on a CV or job application, while 15% had difficulty articulating how their skills would translate during interview.
Stuart Tootal, head of Barclays AFTER programme, said: “It’s concerning to discover that veterans are facing personal and inappropriate questions that have no bearing on the role they are interviewing for and completely undermine their feeling of credibility as a candidate. By focusing on unhelpful stereotypes, such as the candidate’s ability to handle a weapon, interviewers are completely overlooking all the transferrable and valuable skills that will play out well in civvy street.
“We’re on a mission to ensure employers ask the right questions to uncover the huge value that this top talent pool can bring. From leadership, to discipline, and the ability to organise, plan and find solutions to complex problems, all these skills gained in the military are just as relevant in the civilian workplace. Employers are missing a trick if they fail to see this.”
John Chantry, vice president at Barclays, said: “When I left the military, I was confident that I had a number of skills that would be directly applicable to civilian roles. But I was shocked to find one interviewer not asking me why I was right for the job, but how I could translate my skill of shooting people into the role I was applying for! It was deeply offensive that this was all the interviewer saw in me and severely overlooked all the transferrable skills I had that could have fitted perfectly with the position.”