There is a lot of information out there on how to do well in interviews, from preparation tips, to how to answer common interview questions; but defence industry is a complex beast with its own requirements. To avoid disappointment and ensure you are putting your best foot forward in any defence industry interview, follow these four key guidelines.
1. FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
Defence industry is currently in the middle of its largest scale expansion and transformation since the Second World War. Kinexus research shows that defence industry has grown by over 8% a year since 2020, and organisations are seeking workers who can grow with it.
Whilst you might have applied for a specific role, make sure to attend the interview armed with examples of achievements outside of the job description. The organisation will want to know what other roles you could perform for them, and what roles you would be interested in transitioning into as the project evolves. Make sure you know what projects they are currently working on and where they might be heading in the future, thinking of what you can contribute down the line.
Our clients are big on discretionary effort – weave this into your answers and the conversation that you have with your interviewers.
2. SOME OF THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES DON’T EXIST YET
The nature of defence industry means that a lot of work is project based, with lots of healthy competition over which company is best placed to deliver the workforce to make it happen.
As such, you might find yourself interviewing for a role that may not even exist yet. Depending on the situation, it might become available if the organisation wins the bid for work, or they might only win the bid for work if they can show they can deliver the project.
Although this uncertainty can sometimes be discouraging, staying open to these opportunities and preparing to sell yourself to the project as a whole, not just one role, could land you in an amazing role at a great organisation working on a state-of-the-art platform.
Patience and flexibility are key here. The organisation may not have all the information you would like until the full project spec has been released, so keep in mind that you are on the same side.
3. NEVER BURN A BRIDGE
In defence industry everyone knows everyone, and people talk. If you had a bad experience with an employer, organisation, project or peer, its important to never burn a bridge by badmouthing them. Chances are, you may need to collaborate with them in the future, or your interviewer may know them personally. What’s more, this behaviour paints you as negative and potentially difficult to work with.
If you’re asked directly about a past experience, it’s advisable never to lie, but do choose your words carefully. The best way to express previous difficulties is to emphasise the silver lining or be constructive. Something truthful yet diplomatic works best, like: “there were some cultural differences with my previous employer” or “the management style didn’t align personally”.
Remember that this happens all the time and is a common reason for people to seek a new role, but it’s vital to avoid saying something you will regret.
4. NEVER FORGET YOUR CONFIDENTIALITY OBLIGATIONS
Security and safety are key priorities for defence industry as a whole and inherent in that is a strict level of confidentiality. Although you need to be able to sell yourself and explain your previous experience to a potential employer, some defence industry information needs to stay under lock and key.
Before any interviews, check your confidentiality obligations to your previous role and organisation. If you need to keep things close to your chest, don’t be afraid to let your interviewer know you aren’t comfortable discussing the finer details.
Concentrate on the skills you used, the project scale and your achievements. Respecting this confidentiality at all times shows you are an ethical and trustworthy employee that will uphold your obligations to your new employer with the same professionalism.
By keeping these four key guidelines in mind before your next interview, you are better prepared to make an impression on your interviewer and closer to your next exciting role in defence industry.
For more information on how to set yourself up for interview success, check out our other interview blogs:
** This blog has been updated in 2023 to reflect more recent defence industry trends.