Need assistance on a potentially difficult interview question

Discussion in 'Nominations' started by ders_dad, May 8, 2018.

  1. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    DS learned yesterday from someone associated with our MOC to prepare to be ready to answer the following question in a MOC interview this fall:

    "Should Muslim women be permitted to wear the hijab if they are appointed to USNA?"

    DS did some research last night and found that US Army is apparently allowing beards and possibly hijab for religious purposes but the only instance of an SA involved denial by Citadel for a Muslim woman's request and subsequent acceptance by Norwich.

    Without giving away too much personal information, DS (not a Muslim) attends a school in which about 25% students are Muslim and hijab is as common as cargo shorts (and it really is no big deal - young ladies in hijab compete in all sports, swim, go to the prom, and are regular teenagers at DS's HS). Crop tops and short shorts are a way bigger issue. Persons who are more familiar with our MOC than us say this issue is near and dear to the heart and given where DS goes to HS and went to middle school, will likely want to hear his view.

    Not being military, we are ignorant as to the possible practical reasons why a hijab would not work at USNA. Are there any cons for USNA? In the Navy? As an officer? Deployed? Could it restrict certain post-academy jobs? Is this something Navy is currently dealing with?

    DS's off-the-cuff answer is "Of course! Why not?" but then we got into a discussion of possible Why nots and he would like to be prepared with a more nuanced response.

    Thanks in advance. Don't want this to become a question that precipitates controversy.
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Personally, I don't think there is actually a right answer. Sometimes tough questions are asked to see how someone responds on the fly to pressure. Work at an answer but I think the only nuance to think about is what becomes of the uniform and everyone looking alike... and perhaps what that does to discipline, if anything. Just my 2 cents.
     
  3. AROTC-dad

    AROTC-dad Moderator

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    Agree!
    It is not your answer that is critical. It is your line of reasoning and how you communicate your perspective that is important.
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    The abilities to safely and effectively carry out a mission, wear required gear with no impact or perform assigned duties are the essential elements behind uniform and grooming policies, as well as present a professional uniform appearance. Policies relating to religious apparel are decided by the leadership of the respective Services. They do seek religious community input.

    If I were asked that question, as someone trying to enter the service at a level far, far below highest echelon leadership, I would respond “I personally would have no problem with it. I understand that by entering military service, I too will be governed by the uniform and grooming policies determined to be consistent with mission accomplishment and effectiveness, as determined by the (Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of Staff of the Army...).”

    I have no doubt study groups on this issue have been in existence for years now. These issues are looked at from every angle, in a deliberate style.
     
  5. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

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    Exactly Capt MJ! Mission, safety, uniform appearance, etc are all considerations in these types of issues. I think the answer your provided was "textbook" - no matter what the issue of the day might be.
     
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  6. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    Thank you!
     
  7. Humey

    Humey Member

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    I was also going to say that there is no right answer. They want an answer and the reasoning behind it. What they dont want is some racist rant on why people shouldnt look different or that Muslims are all terrorists.
     
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  8. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    Does anyone else find it troubling that a staffer would leak potentially challenging questions (regardless of the subject) to some applicants? Doesn't sound like an ethical way to operate when some of the candidates get inside prep prior to their interviews.

    In any case, candidates are NOT yet in the military and MOC are unlikely to ask questions that even those in the military would have trouble answering.
     
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  9. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    Yes. I can only hope if the staffer chooses to leak advantageous info, that he/she leaks to all, and their indiscretion doesn’t serve as an unwitting (or witting) filter if the question isn’t shared with all.

    That said, I recall being asked about abortion when interviewing for a merit scholarship at the university I eventually attended. I had been coached that I’d probably be asked about socially contentious issues, and the interview panel was looking for how the candidates handled themselves, and whether they could think on their feet and express themselves articulately.
     
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  10. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    We don't know the context of the conversation where OP discovered the question. It may not necessarily have been a staffer. It may not have necessarily been an actual question. It might have been part of a list of hypothetical questions, much like those given here on the forums. I wouldn't rush to judgement without that information.
     
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  11. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard Member

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    Candidates should definitely expect to be asked tough questions without a clear correct answer. I recall being asked about my thoughts on conscription, torture, as well as the most recent political issues of that week. What's most important is that you demonstrate that you can think on your feet and that you're able to reason through deeper issues.
     
  12. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    Let me try to be as clear as I am permitted. This was not a staffer but someone who does work regularly in the community with the CongressMAN and does have direct knowledge of current CongressMAN’s views. This person accompanied the Congressman to my youngest’s middle school yesterday , which I can hit from my living room with a good spiral. I’m not going to state our congressional district but this is someone who has a large first-generation constituency and this particular individual has a greater than typical interest in such matters. If you can’t figure this out further, well I can’t help you. Let’s just say, this question should not have come as a surprise and we should have already anticipated it. CongressMAN has a unique interest in such matters related to American-Muslim issues. I am grateful for the military perspective on addressing this. It really helps.

    (I am not trying to be cute here but want to minimize searchable phrases)
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  13. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Just want to point out that normally Congressmen are not generally involved in the interview process. I'm sure there is the occasional exception, but interviews are normally conducted by a committee of former officers and other luminaries of the community.
     
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  14. ders_dad

    ders_dad Member

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    That’s what I understand. I have learned that this Congressman normally sits on the interview committee.
     
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  15. time2

    time2 10-Year Member

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    Regardless of the exact title of the person in question, no one should be leaking questions to potential candidates. In general, getting a NOM is NOT about being politically connected or who you know, but unfortunately that isn't always the case.
     
  16. Soldiergriz

    Soldiergriz Husband, Dad, Soldier

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    The question is absurd for a 17-18 year old with no military experience.

    There are convoluted legal opinions and Supreme Court rulings on this type of issue. Our services have a process for religious accommodations, and commanders have plenty of advisors on such matters. We actually do this very well IMO.

    My response if I were asked: As a future leader in our Armed Forces, I would ensure that I am doing my part to enforce the standards, regulations, and policies of my service and the Department of Defense. I can assure you I will treat everyone I am entrusted to lead with dignity and respect.