TIME career

10 Ways an Interviewer Prepares to Meet a Potential Employee

businesswoman-job-interview
Getty Images

A successful interview requires completed homework from both sides

Answer by Auren Hoffman, CEO of LiveRamp, on Quora.

Preparation by the interviewer is the key to successful interview. While you are evaluating the candidate, they are evaluating you. Just like you’d ding the candidate for not doing homework on your company, the candidate will ding you if you do not do your interview homework.

Here are ten tips for how to best interview a potential employee:

  1. Review the resume and thoroughly prepare your questions before the interview. You should never walk into an interview without first spending 5-15 minutes thinking about the person and the questions you ask.
  2. Set an agenda for the interview. “We only have 30 minutes for our meeting and here is what I’d like to cover.” Give the person a clear understanding of what you want to get out of the interview. Leave ample time for questions because most mid-career candidates (and 100% of good executives) will come prepared with questions for you.
  3. Do a problem solving exercise with them. Give them a scenario from your work and ask for their input and advice. For instance, you can ask a potential sales executive: “I’m putting together the sales comp for our different salespeople, how have you designed sales comps in the past? Given what you know about our company, help me design a better sales comp.”
  4. General bio questions are not great. No need to just ask a question that can be answered from their resume. You can instead ask a probing question about the business metrics in their last company. One question I like to ask about: what a past company they were at could have done differently to be more successful. You might also want to ask the candidates about why they left a particular job.
  5. Dive into their technical knowledge and learn something. Dive really deep into an expertise area of the candidate. Get them talking about something they are passionate about. Get them to teach you about a new area — have them explain something really complex to you so you learn the basics. I once interviewed a sales guy who was also a chess master — he clearly taught me the core strategy of chess [we hired him]. Even in the scenario where you determine the candidate is not right for the job, at least you learned something.
  6. Know the flow of who at your company interviewed the candidate before you and who is coming after you. This will give you a sense of how the candidate understands the company and what questions have already been asked.
  7. Make sure they have a good experience. A surprising number of referrals for other candidates and for customers will come from the candidates you interview. Make sure they have a really good experience.
  8. Let them do the talking. While you want to clearly answer their questions, make sure the interviewee is doing at least two-thirds of the talking guided by your questions.
  9. If the candidate is not right, end the interview early. You’re not helping the candidates by wasting their time. If the person is clearly not the right fit, end the interview early so they can use the saved time to pursue other awesome companies.
  10. Afterwards, input your feedback into your shared hiring system. So that you can gather all the feedback on the interviewee in one place for quick reference and decision-making.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are important keys to remember when preparing as an interviewer?

More from Quora:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME career

10 Behaviors to Avoid if You Want To Be Successful

multiple hands holding lightbulb
Getty Images

Success is not just about you

Answer by Brandon Lee on Quora.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, there are always exceptions, caveats, and nuances to lists like these, but here are a few things:

  1. Don’t take advice from people who do not have the results you are looking for (e.g. Asking Michael Jordan for tennis advice or getting financial advice from your broke friend). Study those who have the results you are looking for.
  2. Don’t instantly believe everything you hear. Trust but validate.
  3. Don’t feel like you need do everything by yourself; you don’t have to be the best or the smartest. It’s far better to have the support of a team, mentors, and friends who will watch your back.
  4. Don’t underestimate the power of rest, play, and fun in the midst of all the hours you spend working — there is a place for both.
  5. Don’t neglect your physical, emotional, and spiritual health in your pursuit of financial wealth.
  6. Don’t be a bridge burner — don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t circumvent, don’t backstab, don’t take advantage of, don’t deceive, don’t steal credit — unless you want your future bridges to come pre-burned because of your reputation. Build and continually build bridges and others will help build them for you.
  7. Don’t build a reputation of overpromising and underdelivering. Underpromise and overdeliver.
  8. Don’t focus on having the biggest slice of the pie. Focus on growing the pie so everybody wins.
  9. Don’t rush yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Think decades, not month by month.
  10. Don’t forget to thank those that have helped you along the way.

Bonus: When you make it, give back and help those that want to follow in your footsteps.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are some universal things we should not do to become successful?

More from Quora:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Media

American Sniper Screenwriter on the Challenges of Adapting a Book Into a Movie

AMERICAN SNIPER, 2014. ©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection
Warner Bros

The book wasn’t a full picture of the man, so the challenge was finding out who he was, and what the sacrifices he made entailed

Answer by Jason Hall, Screenwriter of American Sniper, on Quora.

Chris Kyle’s book didn’t fully encompass who he was. It was written at the time when he had just gotten back from war. He was angry, dissolute and fractured, in many ways, by these four tours of duty that he had done. It was the close to a decade of war and training for it that had consumed him. The book was dictated in a couple of weeks after that time.

There were lots of questions that the book asked, but didn’t answer like who this guy was, who he was before, and who he would become. There was a lot of anger in the book. I had met Chris, and I knew the book wasn’t a full picture of the man. So the challenge was finding out who he was, and what the sacrifices he made entailed. There was a lot of stress. You could read it in between the lines of the book, but it wasn’t fully explored in the narrative. That was my challenge — to get the full picture of the man. I did it the best I could with him when he was alive. I got a lot from him, and I also got to witness the change and softening that occurred in him over the couple of years before his murder. We got to become friends and the laughter started to come back. This is what happens with warriors — sometimes they find their way back and sometimes they don’t. But I was witnessing him finding his way back.

After his murder, his wife folded me into the fuller picture of his story. She was able to articulate the things that men sometimes don’t tell other men. She talked about who he was before the war, what a big heart he had, how gentle he was with her, and how he walked her out of the darkness and into the light. That story from her took on a narrative and painted a fuller picture of this man and what his sacrifice had been with this war. She also painted a picture of what it was like for him to come back, how he found his way back in the months before his death, fully returning in her eyes. The story she told was: months before he was murdered, Chris walked into the kitchen and she looked at him and realized that for the first time since he had been home, her husband was finally home.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are the challenges when adapting a book into a movie/tv show?

More from Quora:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

How to Avoid Procrastination

paper
Getty Images

Motivation is not a one size fits all issue, so it's important to figure out your own personal improvement regimen

Answer by Asa James Bunnett on Quora.

I’m not a former procrastinator. I’m not a recovering procrastinator. I’m deep in the unsatisfying slump of routine laziness and ineffective boredom. I’ve talked to doctors – it’s incurable. I’m not, and will probably never be, the poster child for making the most of what time I have.

On the other hand, this means when I notice something works for me, I really notice. I don’t like answers that sound like they’re selling me a self-help book, so here’s just what helps my disease out.

1) Go to bed early, get up early. And have a routine for the morning.

Giving myself time in the morning to get some tasks of personal importance to me really helps with motivation. The overwhelming stress of the afternoon, where time crunches seem to happen much more frequently, is nowhere to be found in the morning. Make plans the night before. If you have two hours, devote one to working out and one to making a healthy breakfast. So many goals can be completed before you need to go to work.

2) Give yourself at least a half-hour of boredom per day.

This sounds weird, I know. But the brain is given such easy stimulus so frequently, through social media, through entertainment, and through simplistic tasks at work or school or wherever, that it frequently gets sluggish. The same way your energy levels tend to drop if you subsist on a diet of Snickers and Mountain Dew, your brain slows down without something substantial and meaty. Without focus, it’s impossible to channel your energy and intelligence into something productive.

I used to try to overcome this by attempting to work on hard problems, like accounting homework or reading dense books. This had the exact opposite effect, though, as I would lose focus and get frustrated, my mind wandering even more than before. Almost inevitably, my free time would be consumed by Netflix binging or video games, as I simply couldn’t focus on anything more demanding.

Giving yourself a period of time where you can simply not be stimulated is nothing less than amazing, at least for me. This is best to do in the morning, when the world is quieter, stress is lower, and the things that demand your attention vanish. I sit on my dorm room couch. I don’t lie down – sleeping isn’t the point here. I usually grab a notebook, because as soon as you take away all the stimulus from your brain, it ironically becomes much more active.

If I knew anything at all about meditation, I might say the same principles apply here. Regardless, I almost always get my best ideas just sitting and letting my mind wander, and even if I don’t, I always go back to my life with much more energy and enthusiasm.

3) Like tasks go together.

There’s a concept psychologists call “flow.” It’s essentially becoming absorbed and invested in a task to the point where you are no longer conscious of the world outside you. Think of it like the feeling you get when you read a book, look up, and see that two hours have passed. If you have a job that requires a lot of continual focus and is at least somewhat mentally stimulating, you’ll probably recognize this state. This is the point at which you are almost inevitably your most productive.

It’s difficult to find flow, and very easy to break. We all have small tasks that can’t be ignored, and if one of these has to be done in the middle of another larger one, our flow is broken. If I stop writing a term paper to send an email, it’s going to be hard to get back to that fascinating treatise on the value of FASB codification.

As best you can, group all the small tasks together in one block of time, and save your larger chunks of available time to perform the larger tasks without interruption.

4) As soon as you think you should get to work, get to work.

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted in the Reddit/Wikipedia/YouTube wormhole. And if every time I heard it I had simply listened to the voice in my head that said, “You know, 15 minutes is probably enough,” I would probably have accomplished a lot more by now.

That’s it. If you hear that voice, listen to it.

5) Know what needs to be done.

Prep work is king. Motivation sinks when you have no idea what you should be doing. Make a list, ask someone, draw up a planner, just do something to have a guide for yourself. Some people can effectively fly by the seat of their pants. The fact that I’m writing this and you’re reading it proves that we can’t. Make sure you have instructions, required materials, dates and times, and anything else that will help you avoid confusion later. Remove as many roadblocks as you can.

I can’t guarantee this will change everything for you – I don’t think motivation is a one size fits all issue. But hopefully it helps you figure out your own personal improvement regimen.

This question originally appeared on Quora: I am ambitious, talented and intelligent, but I lack willpower, discipline, and organization. I am an impulsive procrastinator of the highest order. What can I do to improve?

More from Quora:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

How to Combat Restlessness

man-looking-out-window
Getty Images

Restlessness isn't necessarily bad, but it could be an important signal from your body or mind

Answer by Mark Schannon on Quora.

First, what is this thing we call restlessness? There is a range of emotional reactions to stimuli that range from pleasure to panic. Somewhere in that long, complex thread exist some reactions that we call restless; they range from mild anxiety, to not be able to sit still, to needing to do something physical or metaphysical (breathing, yoga, meditation) to alleviate the restlessness. What’s interesting is that we all intuitively understand the word, although it may mean something different from a phenomenological point of view to each of us.

Second, whence comes the restlessness? Is there a psychological or physiological cause—or a combination? Restlessness is most often seen as a psychological phenomena. Before going on stage, many actors experience extreme restlessness (e.g. anxiety, fear, stage fright). As a former actor in high school, college, and community productions, I was a nervous wreck before any performance, walking aimlessly, bouncing up and down, generally feeling an almost uncontrollable restlessness. However, the minute I went on stage, that fear, anxiety, restlessness turned into adrenalin which I used to invigorate my role. The same transition occurred numerous times in job interviews, where restlessness (isn’t it a form of anxiety?), which made it almost impossible for me to sit still, was transformed into a positive adrenalin rush when the waiting was over and the interview began.

However, there have been times when my restlessness wasn’t associated with anything concrete; it was a vague, sometimes overpowering sense of discomfort within my own body. Medication, activity, and time usually sufficed to make it go away. Other things mentioned here—meditation et al.—also can work.

But I believe there is a phenomenon that can be called physiological restlessness—you’ve no doubt seen or had yourself the experience of people just shaking their legs up and down, feet on the floor; or walking aimlessly and restlessly. It is sometimes psychological, but it can be attributed to an over-active nervous system, similar to fibromyalgia but without the pain. Medication such as Lyrica, which are not without side effects, can do an amazing job alleviating the feeling of restlessness. It is not anxiety, although it’s very hard to get most doctors to understand the difference; anti-anxiety medication has no effect on it.

Third, “supposed to do” suggests that restlessness is bad and therefore should be eliminated from the various issues going on in your life, as if there’s one and only one solution for anything perceived as a problem. Before you breathe slowly, do meditation, or take drugs, ask yourself the “why” question: What’s going on in your life that could be causing the feelings? Why are you feeling this way? It may be a signal that something wrong is going on. It could also be a signal that you’re like a race horse at the starting gate, anxious to get going. Restlessness isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s almost always (unless is physiological) an important signal from your body.

Good luck!

This question originally appeared on Quora: What am I supposed to do when I feel restless?

More from Quora:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME psychology

How to Slow Down Your Thought Process

tangled-brain
Getty Images

Take your time and focus on the other person

Answer by Joshua Levy on Quora.

Learning how to organize and convey your thoughts helpfully to others is an immensely important (and often neglected) skill. Here are a few suggestions. They might seem obvious, but actually, doing the obvious is not always so easy.

  • Slow down. Two or three seconds might feel like a long time to you when you feel “on the spot,” but it’s perfectly fine for people listening. In fact, you come across with more clarity and be taken more seriously if you pause and don’t rush.
  • Think about the other person. What parts of what you have to say are they interested in? Do they already know more than you about the topic, or do they know much less? And why do they want to know? A big difference between average and great communicators is the ability to sense what is important to say, and what the other person already knows, and focusing on what’s helpful. If you do that, you’ll be appreciated, even if you’re not eloquent. If you don’t, you may be condescending (telling people what they already know) or a know-it-all (telling people more than they want to know) or just boring (telling people things they don’t care about).
  • If necessary, clarify their question. If you don’t know why someone is asking the question, you probably won’t be able to be very helpful. If they’re asking you what you thought about a movie you just saw, say, “oh, did you see it too?” You then know a lot more about whether to give some background and avoid spoilers, or to jump into talking about the funniest scene.
  • Focus on them as you explain. Do they want to say something? Do you need to back up? Stop and let them talk too. Pay attention to them, not yourself, and about whether they are understanding you. Don’t worry about how good a job you’re doing, as this is focusing your own attention on yourself.
  • Be self-aware afterwards. Pay attention to how the other person responded. Reflect on how it was for you. Don’t judge yourself — just observe. Pay attention to your own emotions. Did you feel appreciated? Anxious? Scattered? How did they find you? Helpful? Nervous? Confident? If you were stressed or anxious, that’s a hint you have anxieties or insecurities to do with what others think of you. That’s a bigger topic than I can talk about here, but usually, if you are thoughtful and face them, such feelings can be overcome or at least mitigated. The first step is just being aware of it. On the other hand, if you were focusing on the person and their reactions, and had some back and forth, then chances are, you did a good job.

Hope that helps!

This question originally appeared on Quora: My thought process is a little chaotic and I struggle to relay a story or information in a concise way, when I’m put on the spot. What are some strategies I can work at to improve this skill?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME career

A Facebook Recruiter Shares Valuable Job Advice

desk
Getty Images

Do not disregard your experience—paid or unpaid, professional or personal

Answer by Ambra Benjamin, Tech Recruiting Lead for Facebook, on Quora.

This is probably one of the preeminent issues facing new college graduates who are entering a very competitive job market. I think in many ways the generation before us did the current generation a great disservice in leading us all to believe that obtaining a four year or graduate degree was the key to gaining traction in the job market. While at one point this was true, the market has moved far more toward favoring experienced hires over the last 10-15 years, even for positions that were commonly reserved as “entry level positions.”

I think the key thing to remember when you are trying to gain job experience is that internships are actual work experience. The more internships a person can have, the better success they’ll have landing an interview based on resume alone. In this era, having internships that pertain to the field you’re hoping to work in full time after you graduate are pretty non-negotiable. If anyone is reading this and they’re still in college, take heed. That unpaid internship in the marketing department at the Smithsonian is probably a better long term investment than the well paying camp counselor gig you’re considering.

For those who’ve already graduated college and are facing the woes of feeling like you just need someone to give you a chance so you can gain valuable experience, I can offer a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer somewhere. You’re not working right? So you should have the time. In conjuction with job hunting, find a way and a place to serve in a meaningful way. You’d be surprised how many organizations would get excited about a freshly minted college graduate contacting them to offer up themselves in any way the organization sees fit. Most people I know who are Social Media Managers for example, first gained their experience by working pro bono and getting their feet wet in running online marketing campaigns and such. It’s also a fantastic way to network. There are people with great connections in organizations who are sure to put a good word in for you with the employer of your choice if they saw you demonstrate great work ethic even when you weren’t getting paid. This is how I got my first corporate job. Volunteering also gives you the chance to take on responsibilities you may not have the opportunity to touch until 3-4 years into your career. And all of this is work experience! It counts and it can go on your resume!
  • Get more creative. You don’t have any work experience and you have a college degree. You’re in the same boat of many other candidates if not slightly behind the boat of others who may be more qualified. So if you have those things working against you, it’s probably best not to try to find jobs in the traditional ways others are because you’re not separating yourself from the pack. You’re going to need to find an in. Figure out who you know and ask them to submit you as an employee referral to positions you’re interested in. Find the hiring manager of the position in which you’re interested and reach out in a professional, concise way. Make them want to hire you. Do you own your name a a web domain? “e.g. MarySharkey.com?” You should. You don’t have to have a fancy website or anything, but you should point it to your LinkedIn profile or something that tells more about you. There are also a lot of really cool, free services like about.me and such that allow you to easily establish an online footprint.
  • Assess Yourself. Extract experience from what you’ve already done. A lot of people sell themselves short because they discount their experience. Sometimes you have to grasp a bit, but if you were the president of your sorority or you led a student trip to Guatemala, or you organized a large event or maintained the school newspaper’s website, these are all worthwhile things to count toward your experience.

Get out there and hustle!

This question originally appeared on Quora: How can someone gain job experience if companies would always hire someone with a college degree and experience?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME movies

A Former Marine’s Review of American Sniper

AMERICAN SNIPER, 2014. ©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection
Warner Bros

Bradley Cooper got it right in so many ways

Answer by Jon Davis, Sergeant of Marines, on Quora.

As far as I know, I’m the only reviewer, so far, who was present in Iraq during the time Kyle was there. My first base, Al Taqaddum was about thirty minutes from Fallujah, the location of much of the story. I really don’t like seeing war movies about Iraq because, like “The Hurt Locker” and “Brothers”, they are critically acclaimed by millions who never took part in the wars, but create ridiculously stereotypical caricatures of real people who deserve more respect, and are abysmal failures of research into the actual military methodology that deserves more understanding. To me, movies like this are just riding waves of war curiosity and civilian guilt while telling their over-sensationalized story, rather than any semblance of a real story — essentially, an insult to anyone who actually took part in the conflict while making millions for people who didn’t. I fully expected American Sniper to be much of the same, so I was probably just going to wait and rent the DVD. It wasn’t until my sixth grade students started asking questions about what it is was like for me after seeing the movie that I decided to watch so that I could give an answer based on their context, rather than mine.

When I sat down for the movie I fully expecting all the nonsense and war drama that was The Hurt Locker. My only hope was that Clint Eastwood, whose work I have enjoyed in the past, would do better. The lights went down and the opening began to the Islamic call to prayer. Before even the first frame of actual film footage, I was shocked that I was immediately back to that other time and place. What the Adhan means, to me, is an immediate sense of anxiety and foreboding. I know that for billions of people, that is not the truth, but when the first place you hear it is over hundreds of loudspeakers echoing from the village of Haditha below your base, it is more reminiscent of the people living there lobbing rockets at you every week than of any religion of peace. Eastwood starting the movie with that, I feel was intended as a spiritual call to arms for Iraq veterans and for me at least, it landed. What the opening first scene actually ended up being, locked me in for the rest of the movie.

Where this film shines, in my opinion, was in the degree of accuracies it had in its presentation. As I said before, movies like The Hurt Locker turned me off for military flicks for years. This one got details right that I have no idea how they could have known. I have no idea how they thought to even ask. My case in point, which no one reading this noticed, was a water bottle used to automatically close the wooden door in their plywood shelter on the first deployment. It is an almost meaningless detail of that war that we walked past every day, but that you would never think to see in a movie because it is just so mundane and inglorious. But there it was. It meant a lot to me that that detail made it in, among countless others which will go unheralded. Honestly, the whole living area was done perfectly. It felt exactly like what I would have expected to see in Iraq. In fact, it was too perfect. There was no dust and everything was at right angles so shelves didn’t look like they were made by a cross-eyed Lance Corporal who lost his glasses. But besides being too perfect, it was perfect. To be clear, this was a very researched and well done military movie. There were times where troops wore the wrong gear and other things, but overall, very well done in most regards.

Second, was the actual portrayal of military deployments. Every war movie I have ever seen shows you and your war buddies gearing up for “The Big One” and going off to war. Those who miraculously survive come home to tickertape and beautiful women, the war forever just a memory. What the regular people don’t get is that we go to war, once, twice, four times, eight times… I commented to Jay Wacker‘s review to his point that, “The film dragged a little in the 3rd tour, which began to feel a bit same-same…” which shows a great deal of how good movies run counter to real life. There’s a reason that the film drug during the third tour. By the third 6-to-10 month combat tour, life is same-sameish. That said, the fact that Eastwood showed the transition – civilian home, killing insurgents, having a baby, seeing a child murdered, playing with the dog, seeing your friend killed, going to the mall, nearly dying, as a realistic sequence of events does far more to display life for those of us who really deployed and our families. Living in that perpetual state of transition was a mind numbing experience, delivered of course, by the film’s leading actor, Bradley Cooper.

Cooper got it right in so many ways I can’t even describe how much I now respect this Hangover alumni. It wasn’t his general badassness in battle, I’ve seen that before over, and over, and over… So to those who see this as just a real-life Iron Man or Captain America” you missed so, so much.

The scene that meant the most to me when thinking about Cooper’s acting ability was one that most people were probably bored by. I’ll throw a spoiler because the plot point really doesn’t matter. It was the scene where Kyle and his family are having the tire on their car changed. A Marine recognizes Kyle and comes up to thank him with all the “you saved me in, blah, blah, blah… and ‘a lot of guys didn’t come back, blah, blah, blah'” tropes that are in every war movie. What you probably didn’t notice about that scene was Cooper. To moviegoers he was boring, but what I saw was something I don’t understand how he got right.

In that scene, Cooper displays classic signs of a veteran who doesn’t enjoy being thanked. He immediately deeply retreats upon being recognized and becomes politely evasive. His speech breaks down into monosyllabic chirps of general acknowledgement, while not maintaining eye contact and attempting to not carry the conversation further. While I’ve never saved anybody, I’ve had this experience dozens of times when random strangers thank me for my service. You really can’t describe the feeling that follows, but last Veterans’ Day when my boss made a big deal about thanking me in front of all my students, a motive I am deeply appreciative of, I was overwhelmed with a feeling I can only describe as a profound and sudden sense of humiliation which I can’t begin to quite understand. All I can say is Cooper’s portrayal of this feeling was something I saw in his short chirps and expressionless awkward glances that communicated a level of detailed research, coaching, and acting, to say the least of getting to know real veterans that needs to be known and acknowledged.

To explain the lack of a fifth star, there were things I didn’t enjoy about the movie. What I didn’t like most was the wife, played by Sienna Miller. The character was too one-dimensional. The acting was fine, but the role was built to serve as a person who represented the state-side life of deployed military personnel and nothing else. For that reason, regardless of the real Taya Kyle’s persona, the character came off as deeply unsupportive and against the war or at least her husband’s participation in it. The only time you actually see her mention that she is proud of her husband’s achievements was when he retired from service, which left a very ambiguous taste in my mouth. What exactly was she proud of? This felt very unrealistic as the SEALs are pretty much the most gung-ho, hyper military individuals that Hollywood often paints them to be, but their families are just as gung-ho proud as they are. They suffer the deployments, sure, but “My husband’s a SEAL, darn it!” In my experience, you don’t find successful military people who have a home life with someone that unsupportive of their efforts “over there”, particularly when they were in service prior to their romantic life. I can easily dismiss this because this character, in the movie, is a symbol meant to showcase the torn nature of Kyle’s character, and rounding her out would have taken away from the plot while adding time to an already very long movie, but it just didn’t land home with me. The brother’s extremely short feature in the late story also seemed remarkably unrealistic and more Hollywood than real life. I get that he may not have liked the war (who does?) but the day you go home is the happiest day of your life. You’re happy. Act happy.

There were other plot problems, as well. Specifically, on his first deployment he is pretty much looked at as some sort of key leadership role, which isn’t realistic. He’s a SEAL, not a God of Warfare. What it seemed to me to happened was that several key leaders, namely SEAL officers, were merged with Kyle’s character for story telling convenience. By his third or fourth tour he would have been an actual Chief (Chief Petty Officer) and had a leadership role, but not by the first deployment. Abandoning overwatch to go house to house was also a bit unforgivable, because I said so. “Let me show you a few things,” to the Marines, which were filmed as almost incompetent, was a bit annoying. Getting a phone call in the middle of a mission? Umm… no. The whole climax scene was also really over the top and highly fictionalized for the movie from several different events in the book at once.

The last thing I didn’t really enjoy seeing; all the PTSD and blown up troops. Honestly, the next time you see it, attempt to find me one single veteran who left the military and was not very much traumatized or horrifically maimed. I’ve seen a dozen different reviews that speak about how they did a great job of showing what it’s like for returning troops mentally speaking, but they really didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, they did better than any other, but you don’t feel what having cancer is like by watching an actor play a person with cancer. You just feel sad for the character. You don’t understand it, though. I appreciate how very, very hard they obviously worked on showcasing the issue respectfully, but honestly I’m concerned that the fact that since every war movie must show returning veterans as irreparably broken and destroyed individuals, (Brothers anyone?) is just perpetuating the idea that we are creatures to be pitied in the best case scenario; that is pitied but kept safely away from friends, children, dogs, your workplaces, or guns because we will probably murder you in a fit of PTSD rage. We have enough problems without dealing with the stereotypes that films about the war continually reinforce in a population that has no experience with actual military veterans.

These few major points and the numerous small inaccuracies were why it isn’t a five star movie for me. That said, I can dismiss these because I get that we need certain things in a movie to take place and be entertaining to movie-going audiences. Enough of the details and story were preserved and given their proper respect that I can deal with the hyped up sensationalization of much of the movie. I do want to end on a positive note.

Many have spoken to the fact no one says a word when the movie ends. It was the same for us. The ending was extremely powerful and brought to the surface many emotions that you just can’t go back to the real world immediately from. For my wife and I, it remained silent for most of the twenty minute car ride home, as well. I dealt with a lot of personal feelings that the movie dug up. I’m usually livid after movies like that, talking about how this was wrong, or that was wrong, but Eastwood’s film just reached me in a way that others who want to tie themselves to the trials of military personnel couldn’t. The film respectfully and as accurately as I could imagine, tells the story of one American warrior’s struggle in making terrible choices, fighting against terrible people, separated from his family and doing it again and again for something he believes is important. To many of us who were there, the story also helps in a small way to communicate parts of ourselves we simply failed to communicate before. I honestly don’t know if there will ever be an Iraq War movie that I would give five stars to, but I am deeply appreciative to the work that Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, and the team that brought American Sniper have done to bring this story to the big screen.

This question originally appeared on Quora: Reviews of: American Sniper (2014 movie)

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

What I Learned From Quitting My Job and Traveling Around the World

people-sitting-elephant
Getty Images

While it wasn't a 'transformative experience,' I did learn a few things

Answer by Patrick Mathieson on Quora.

This past April I quit my job at Dell, crammed some stuff into a backpack, and went to Southeast Asia (and a few other places) for about six weeks. Not exactly “traveling the world” as I only went to a few countries, but it was more of a backpacker/adventure travel experience than I had ever had previously. (Last month I did another 2.5 week trip with a backpack to Australia and New Zealand, so this has gotten a lot less scary since then.)

The trip was modest, so I won’t act like it was some kind of transformative experience or anything. That said, I did learn a few things.

  1. I don’t need that much “stuff” to exist. My travel clothes consisted of two pairs of shorts, three pairs each of underwear and socks, about six t-shirts, and a sweater. That’s it. Whereas back in the U.S. I had amassed closet and a dresser full of clothes, most of which I never wore. Why did I accumulate so much stuff when a backpack’s worth of clothes could sustain me perpetually? Sure, I didn’t need a winter coat or a sports jacket on my trip, so those deserve some shelf space. But why did I own 6 different suits and 35 different dress shirts?
  2. I vastly underrated “home” while I was living there. Adventure travel is a tempting siren when you’re sitting at your desk job and dreaming of grand adventures at Mt. Everest or the Great Barrier Reef. I think this caused me to pine for the future and underrate the present. Home is awesome. I live in a country where I can freely travel and live in any of 50 states, where all of my friends and family are easy to see and contact, and where I’m relatively unscathed by the police/government/taxman/whatever (I’ll grant that this doesn’t describe everybody’s experience in the USA, and that I’m luckier than most in this regard.). For some reason, at the beginning of my trips I always think I’ll never want to come back home, but each and every time I’m mistaken. It’s made me a little more thankful and observant in my regular life in the States.
  3. People are people are people. No matter what country you go to, people put their pants on one leg at a time, so to speak. Even though different cultures can be vastly different from one another, most humans share quite a few common experiences. I suspect that the media caricatures of the daily live of people in North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. are somewhat overstated. Not to understate the horrors of political tyranny, but most humans go to work in the morning and tuck their kids into bed at night just like the rest of us.
  4. There’s nothing “special” about backpacking culture. Some people describe backpacker/hostel culture as more “authentic” than traditional tourist/hotel/hospitality culture, like there’s something more “real” about sharing a room in a dirty hostel instead of staying at the Hilton. And sure, I’ll grant that you are less likely to grasp local culture if you spend your trips at five-star resorts. But if you go to any hostel in the world you’ll see the same scene: A bunch of 19-year-old British/German/French/Dutch/Australian backpackers in tank tops smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. Is that any more unique or authentic than middle-aged Americans in Brooks Brothers oxfords drinking rum and Cokes in every Ritz-Carlton on the planet?
  5. But…. it’s still awesome. I think everybody should take at least one backpacking trip, even just for the opportunity to have a really bad time and learn a lot from the experience. There’s a lot to see out there.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What is it like to quit your job, get a backpack and travel the world?

Read next: Hate Your Job? Here’s What to Do

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

What to Order When Taken Out to a Restaurant for Your Job Interview

menu
Getty Images

Eat a bit before hand, so you can focus on answering the questions, and not on the food

Answer by Mira Zaslove on Quora.

When on a job interview, it’s usually safest to follow the lead of your host. The interviewer is often sussing out if the candidate is a “fit” for the job. You want to show that you will fit in well with the established culture of the company.

And an easy way to develop quick rapport is to mirror the other person. People tend to trust people who are similar to themselves. If you act like they do, it puts them at ease. And when people are comfortable, the conversation will run more smoothly.

So, if your host orders a 3 course meal with dessert and coffee afterwards, it’s safe to order the same. If they order an appetizer, order one too. You want to be eating, or at least appear to be, when they are eating. It’s often awkward to be eating while the other person is not.

Similarly, even if you are starving and they only order a salad, stick with something lighter. You don’t want to be too focused on finishing your meal when they are done with theirs, and are focused only on asking you questions. Now is not the time to order the most expensive item on the menu, if they are only ordering the soup.

I’m a vegetarian, so I’m not about to order a steak just because my interviewer is. However, if they order the steak, I’ll try to order something more substantial.

Interviewers may suggest an interview out of the office, to catch you with your guard down. Remember this is an interview. Eat a bit before hand, so you can focus on answering the questions, and not on the food. And don’t come to the interview with a growling stomach. Eat slowly. Don’t talk with your mouth full of food.

It gets tricky if your host orders an alcoholic drink. In college, a friend of mine made a disastrous, and hilarious, mistake. He was on the final round with a fancy firm, for a prestigious position. A partner of the firm invited him to lunch. The interviewer order an Arnold Palmer, which is an iced-tea and lemonade mix. My friend, mistakenly thought it was an alcoholic drink, similar to a Long-Island ice-tea. He wanted to show that he was mature and could hang with the crowd. He ordered a gin and tonic.

The host kept getting refills of his Arnold Palmer, which is pretty typical with ice tea. And so my friend kept getting refills of his gin and tonic, which is not so typical. He got really drunk at lunch, and couldn’t drive himself home. The interviewer had to call him a cab. He did not get the offer.

So, if your host orders an alcoholic drink, it’s probably safest not to, and say you have to drive. If it’s a happy hour interview, stick to just ordering one, and only drink less than half.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What is a nice, safe choice for your meal when you are taken out on a job interview?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser