How to Prepare for Important Navy Interviews

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A reader recently asked me for help preparing for a big interview that I had done in the past (the interview to become a Specialty Leader). We both thought that interview prep would be a good blog post, so here is my advice after 10+ interviews for significant leadership positions:

  • Be prepared for an in-depth and long interview. My interview for Specialty Leader was with VADM Bono when she was a two star and the Navy Medical Corps Chief. It thought that it was going to be 15-20 minutes with a max of 30 minutes because she was (is) so busy. She talked to me for an hour and 15 minutes and it was a very, very thorough and in-depth interview. Although I got the position, I probably should have been more mentally prepared for the possibility that it could have lasted over an hour.
  • Always have a reasonable understanding about the current state of the position you are interviewing for. I ensure this by talking with the incumbent for at least 15 minutes about the position. Ask how it is going, what they liked or didn’t like about it, what has gone well and what hasn’t, etc. In addition, try to meet with their immediate supervisor to ask them a few questions about the position. I try to find out what they would like out of the position in the future, what they need more of, and what their strategic priorities are.
  • Make sure you’ve read all of the core strategic documents. To me, these include the Navy Medicine Commander’s Guidance (Short Version and Long Version), the DHA Director’s Priorities and Vision, and your command’s mission/vision statements. There may be others, depending on what you’re interviewing for. For example, I like this article on Value Based Healthcare.
  • If given the position, always have a plan for what you want to do in the future. Ideally, your plan needs to support the strategic documents in #3 above.
  • Tell the truth and be honest to yourself. In other words, don’t try to be who you think they want. Be who you are. If you’re not what they want, it is probably better if you don’t get the job anyway.
  • As soon as you are done with the interview, write down the questions they asked. Then you can use these questions to prepare for future interviews. The list of questions I’ve been asked in the last few years include:
    1. What do you see as the role of (insert whatever position you’re interviewing for)?
    2. What has prepared you for this position?
    3. How do you see yourself in this position supporting the Surgeon General’s strategic initiatives?
    4. What do you see as the role of the senior enlisted leader?
    5. Describe your leadership style.
    6. How would you handle a disagreement between you and the CO?
    7. How do you handle it when you make a decision and someone who works for you disagrees with you?
    8. How would you handle the multiple priorities associated with being a director, especially as it relates to GME?
    9. How do you see your role on the Executive Steering Committee/Command Evaluation Board?
    10. What are your top 3 priorities?
    11. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have they impacted you as a leader?
    12. How do you think you and your direct boss/supervisor will work together?
    13. What part of the directorate is most interesting to you?
    14. Why did you apply for this job?
    15. What are your biggest leadership challenges?
    16. How do you handle disagreement or conflict?
    17. Tell me about your leadership style.
  • As soon as the results of the interview are released, no matter whether you got the position or not, always ask a few of your interviewers for feedback so you can grow professionally. They’re usually happy to give both positive and negative feedback.

One thought on “How to Prepare for Important Navy Interviews

    […] reviews all of the strategic initiatives and issues in Navy Medicine. Reading it would be great for interview prep and a way to brush up on the latest Navy initiatives. Here it […]


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