The 6 Strangest Questions Veterans Get Asked in Job Interviews


Think about it. We research companies, tailor resumes and write cover letters with the sole goal of getting that interview.

Once you are scheduled for an interview, there are myriad ways to prepare for it. Do a deep dive on the position and know the company's place in the industry. Think of questions for when the interviewer asks whether you have any (as they likely will). Practice being succinct with answers to the most common interview questions.

If the interview is with a civilian-oriented company or with someone who doesn't have a lot of experience with veterans, you may encounter more unconventional questions. While you can't prepare for some of these, at least be prepared to ask for clarification if you get one.

Here are some of the strangest questions vets have heard in interviews, as submitted by readers.

6. "If you were a color, what color would you be and why?"

This is actually a more common question than one might think. The interviewer is trying to get a feel for your personality. A veteran in a job interview might be tempted to dismiss it, answer any color that comes to mind, and move on.

It's important to think of a meaningful reply, even if you think the question is bizarre. Whether it's purple because your mom used to grow lilacs or blue because you were once a pilot, think of a memory, find a color associated with it, and explain that memory. The interviewer just wants insight into how you think.

5. "Have you ever tried to or wanted to hurt someone at your previous job?"

This might be a nicer way of asking a veteran whether they've ever killed anyone. It could be a way to determine if the veteran has mental issues. Keep in mind the asker may know nothing of military life, especially when it comes to deployment. Avoid talking about combat situations, even if you were in the infantry, and give the interviewer the answer you know they want to hear.

If you're unsure of what that is, the answer is no.

4. "So you've never had a real job?"

Even though this will rankle you, stay frosty. The interviewer may not realize how much that stings and, even worse, may not realize that you worked a real job at an expert level. This is your chance to inform them that military life isn't running around the woods with a gun every day and that you did this job, and others like it, in a uniform.

3. "So do we need to throw grenades at you for you to like it here at this job?"

This is another example of an interviewer revealing they have no idea what life is like in the military. There are a couple of ways to respond to a question like this. The first, and probably best, is to laugh it off and mention that you'd prefer if they didn't. The second is to laugh but mention that, while grenades aren't your thing, you work well under pressure and can handle explosive situations.

What you shouldn't do is tell them that the kill radius of a fragmentation grenade is 5 meters, the casualty radius is around 15 meters, and fragmentation can fly up to 230 meters.

2. "How many school kids could you kill in 5 minutes?"

This was a question asked in an interview for a police position assigned to a school. The intent was to see whether the veteran applying would go into a school without backup during an active shooter situation. The interviewer could have asked the question in a better way, of course.

The correct way to answer (after the shock wears off and you realize what is being asked) is to say that you would follow procedure in that situation and to offer security advice from your experience, if you've noticed gaps in their current setup.

1. "Have you ever killed anyone?"

This is the question every veteran gets asked eventually, and it sometimes happens during a job interview. Interviewers who ask this of a veteran will likely not know much about military life or what a deployment is like. It's also likely they've met very few veterans in their lives. This is not the time to inform him about the weight of that question; you can do that when you get the job.

Be patient and remember there was a time when you might have posed this question to a veteran. If you deployed during your service, tell the interviewer what your deployed work was like and how you overcame a tough situation there. If you never deployed, tell the interviewer that your job wasn't a combat role but explain why you were essential to your unit's mission.



-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at

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