Interview Questions

Discussion in 'Nominations' started by CannotBeDisplayed, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. CannotBeDisplayed

    CannotBeDisplayed Member

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    I have an interview scheduled with my representative, Honorable Pete Gallego, this Saturday in San Antonio. I already have my suit and I have been on top of everything so far. My ALO and BGO have given me a few questions that may be asked at my interview, but I feel like I need more practice. I want to be ready for anything.

    I know that several users here regularly sit on MOC nomination boards, so I'd like to ask you all this question. Can any of you provide me with examples of questions that may be asked at my interview?

    Also, my ALO tells me he regularly sits on a board with 11 members. The letter from my MOC that scheduled my interview tells me that there will only be 3 members on my interview board. Is this normal? And does it change anything?

    Thanks!
     
  2. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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    Each MOC can run his/her interview/board differently. Don't stress too much about the possible questions because you may get one from way out in left field. Work on your confidence, eye contact, ability to "sell" yourself, etc. Think about WHY you want to become an officer, why you want to attend a service academy, what your Plan B will be if you don't receive an appointment, etc.

    My DS has done his 3 interviews -- MOC #1 had 20 members on his board, and candidates interviewed with two groups of 3 board members (there were 75 candidates, and six or seven different groups of board members); MOC #2 had 3 members on his board for one 10 minute interview; MOC #3 had 4 members on his board for one 15 minute interview. MOC #2 board asked DS what one question he wasn't asked by MOC #1, then they asked him to answer it for them. MOC #3 board asked DS questions like "what's the best book you've read in the last year and why" and "name someone from history that you admire and tell us why". He received nominations from MOC #1 (USMA) & MOC #3 (USNA).

    Good luck!
     
  3. CannotBeDisplayed

    CannotBeDisplayed Member

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    Thank you! And congrats to your DS on the nominations. :)
     
  4. bburns112

    bburns112 Member

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    My two senators had boards of 2 members. My district's MOC had a panel of five.
    Despite the possibility of you being thrown some curve-balls, for the most part, you can prepare yourself fairly well for these interviews...

    Know the basics and build off from that. According to my MOC's, you'd be surprised how many candidates are unable to really answer the most important question of them all, "Why do you want to attend a service academy?". Also be prepared to answer a big Q that also trips up many applicants, "Tell me about yourself."

    Be prepared to answer why one service academy over another. Also be prepared to answer questions about plan B's. The MOC's like to see that you are willing to serve your country regardless of whether or not you receive an appointment to a SA.

    My interview for Senator Pat Toomey's nomination got very specific about the Marine Corps. One of the two members of my board was a Marine SSGT who fought in Fallujah. After making it clear that the Marine Corps has been my dream since childhood he began hammering me with some questions, such as, "Who is the only Marine to be awarded 5 Navy Crosses?" and "When is the Marine Corps birthday?" Bottom-line, if you claim serving your country has been your dream, you better be prepared to know your stuff. (Thank God I knew the answers!)

    In all 3 of my interviews, they were finished off with a hypothetical question. One was, "What would you do if on your first day out in the fleet, one of your senior NCO's refuses to stand at attention when you walk into the room?"
    Another was, "Say you are at the Academy and you walk into your History class to take your midterm exam. The teacher tells the class if everyone writes 'Go Navy!' at the top of their exam but does not complete it, they will get an A. However, if at least one of your classmates actually completes the test, they will be graded accordingly and the rest of the class will fail. All 29 of your classmates are willing to write Go Navy and they are relying on you to be a team player... What do you do?"

    Obviously, take my examples with a grain of salt as every MOC board is different. Regardless, remember the most important thing: Be yourself. Walk in there with a smile, be confident and ready to go. Good luck! The interviews really aren't all the bad.
     
  5. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    ^^^^

    These MOC committee members need to get a life. Seriously.:rolleyes:

    I think some of them forget that the folks they are interviewing are 17-yr-old "kids"/young adults. They not currently in the military. They are not currently subject to an honor code.

    Questions about you, what you've done, your goals and motivations, etc. are obviously fair game. And the occasional "out of the box" question is fine as well. However, I don't think you need to know the USMC's birthday to have a desire to serve. Nor should a 17-yr-old high school student know how to respond to an NCO's "disrespect" when he/she might never even have met an NCO. That's why you go to a SA and learn from actual NCOs.

    Some of these folks are on weird power trips. Just saying . . .
     
  6. bburns112

    bburns112 Member

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    It did seem a bit unusual. A classmate of mine went through the same interviews and his questions seemed more... typical. Perhaps it was simply because I made it very clear of my passion to become a Marine. Whether or not the questions were appropriate, I still feel satisfied with the outcome. With ~200+ applicants applying for USNA through each Senator in my state, hopefully my passion and my ability to answer those questions helped me stand out compared to someone who just decided they wanted to apply a few months ago. I guess we'll find out come Christmas-time when my MOCs inform the candidates whether or not they received the nomination (as if waiting for Christmas didn't already seem like an eternity for a teenager!).

    Maybe the OP will have an experience similar to mine. Maybe it will be entirely different. Either way, be prepared, be motivated and best of luck to you, CannotBeDisplayed!
     
  7. SubRider

    SubRider Member

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    During one of my DD's interview's last year she was asked by a WP grad why she wasn't applying to the USMA. I forget how she answered the question, but she said it was pretty obvious that he wasn't impressed with her lack of interest in USMA.

    So it may be a good idea to spend some time thinking of how you'd explain why you aren't interested in certain SA's.
     
  8. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    ^^^^

    Another example of a terrible question. I disagree with the notion that, if you want to serve, you should be willing to attend any SA and/or any ROTC program and/or OCS. Each service has its strong points and weak points (i.e., if you want to drive submarines or fly jets, the USA and USCG probably aren't the best places for you). Likewise, if you want to lead ground troops, you probably won't love USAFA/USAF. Also, some people are suited for a SA and others are not. There are many ways to serve but not every way is right for every person.

    IMO, it's fine to inquire as to why a candidate selected the SA(s) he/she did and the rationale, but to then suggest that not wanting to attend one or more is somehow a negative . . . personally, I find it a positive that the candidate has thought through his/her goals, etc. and made choices based on those.
     
  9. rvicek

    rvicek USAFA Cadet Fourth Class

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    I just had my interview and I too was asked why I didn't apply to West Point. I'm hoping that my lack of interest in West Point and in Merchant Marine won't affect my chances in receiving a nomination.

    Sent using the Service Academy Forums® mobile app
     
  10. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    To USNA 1985's point, both of my children were asked this question in a much better way...

    Compared to the other SAs, what is it about USAFA in particular that attracted you?

    This allows the candidate to detail their goals, motivations, etc (ie positive) rather than the negative view of a different option.


    Further, here's some some general interview advice (not nomination-specific) for an effective approach you can use when faced with a negative-leaning question; turn it around. For example...

    "It's not that I have anything against Westpoint; all of the Service Academies share the same goal of building leaders of character. But for me Annapolis offers...."

    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Watch your favorite politician, perhaps on a Sunday News show, for great examples of this fine art! :thumb: Seriously. Not saying I like it from them but it is something you can use to your advantage, especially when you dislike the premise of the question.
     
  12. ca2midwestmom

    ca2midwestmom Member

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    Like I said above, DS got a nomination to West Point from MOC #1. During the interview with MOC #3, he was asked if he would be happy going to USMA (USNA is his #1 choice). He said yes. He received a nomination from MOC #3 to Naval Academy. Makes me think all three MOC coordinated the nominations, but I'm not sure why he was asked that question.
     
  13. MemberLG

    MemberLG Member

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    Respectfully disagree as most applicants can't articulate why they prefer one service over another. I used to hear after watching "Top Gun" as number #1 reason for picking Navy. This year was becoming Navy SEAL. Simple follow up questions of what it takes become a Naval aviator or SEAL are answered in silence as to I didn't think about. I expect more from these candidates as they are supposed to more mature than average 17 or 18 year olds.
     
  14. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    Member,

    We (three of us) might be more in agreement than not...

    IMHO asking why a candidate wants to attend a certain SA is totally appropriate. And if they give a shallow answer such as "to be a SEAL", then following up with them about what it will take is also completely appropriate... and can indicate just how much they've researched it (or not!), how much they want it, etc. All fair game.

    But asking about why they don't think WestPoint is good enough for them, or why not the AF PJ program, or the like is where I think it gets unfair. If you think the answers about what they ARE interested in are shallow, how informed do you think their answers will be about things they may not even know about or have interest in??? :shake:
     
  15. CannotBeDisplayed

    CannotBeDisplayed Member

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    Primary Concern

    Wow. Thanks for all of the feedback, everyone!

    After some practice and deep thinking about the interview, I only have one primary concern:

    What should I focus on when I get the infamous "tell me about yourself"? It's a broad question, and I feel like it's very easy to say something irrelevant. I know I want to bring up the extensive military background in my family and the fact that I am a first-gen college student, but what else should I talk about? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated! :smile:
     
  16. USNA02

    USNA02 Parent

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    CannotBeDisplayed,

    I am sure there are others with more experience/knowledge that will be able to give you more specific talking points, but I want to offer the following:

    There is the concept out there called the "30 Second Elevator Speech". Basically what this means is that whatever you are trying to sell or promote or provide information about, in this case that would be YOU, be prepared with a 30 second "sales pitch" you can deliver on the spot . . . ie, someone in an elevator says tell me about this new project you are working on . . . and you're off and running.

    My DS and I talked about this when he was getting himself prepared for his second interview (with the Congressman, first was with the Senator and he didn't ask for alot of prep help going into the first for whatever reason). I encouraged him to have both a 30 second speech and a 3 minute speech. You'll most likely be able to gauge if they are looking for the shorter or longer version.

    Think about everything you want them to know. You've listed a couple of talking points already and the first generation college-bound thing is really awesome. Then think about what you REALLY want them to know if you only have 30 seconds and again if you only have 3 minutes. It will help you narrow down and focus your message.

    I don't know if my own DS followed my advice or not. He didn't go into specifics about the he said/she said of that interview and I didn't ask, but when he was done, he called me at work SUPER confident about how it had gone. It allowed him to relax at least a tiny bit knowing that he had done everything he could and the decisions were out of his hands at that point. (BTW, he ended up getting two NOMS out of the process!)

    Bottom line, be yourself. You'll do great!

    Let us know how it goes!
     
  17. USNA02

    USNA02 Parent

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    Just re-read this and realized that didn't come out as I meant it . . . the extensive service of your family and your desire to also serve is equally awesome and I am sincerely grateful to each of you. What I really meant was the first gen college thing is something that potentially sets you apart from the next guy.

    :smile:
     
  18. MedB

    MedB Parent

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    USNA02 is right on the money with the "elevator speech".

    The one thing I would add is to make sure it centers around what motivates you, not just a laundry list of accomplishements.

    For example, "What I'm most passionate about is XXX. Which is why I've done A,B and C so far..."

    Hope that makes sense and good luck!
     
  19. CannotBeDisplayed

    CannotBeDisplayed Member

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    Thanks for all the help, everyone! I had my interview last Saturday and I definitely used a lot of the advice given here.

    Now I must play the waiting card and hear of my results between now and January 22nd. Nerve-wracking, it is!
     

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