Nomination interview groups can be very diverse as can their questions. I always tell my candidates, foremost, to be themselves. The boards are looking as much, or probably even more so, at how they handle themselves than the exact answers to the questions.
Steer away from politics. If asked a political question about the war in Iraq, the military implements and enforces the policy, they do not make it.
Be prepared to answer why you want a career in the military and why a SA is the best place to prepare for it.
There will usually be a question about why they should pick you. What makes you unique, an ideal candidate?
What concerns you? Are there areas where you feel you may have problems? When I did it, those were my favorite questions. Some were TOO honest, or maybe thorough.
Be comfortable. If you are going to wear a coat and tie, for example, and haven't worn one for awhile, wear it to church a couple of times. Nothing is more distracting than a candidate fidgeting with their tie, cuffs, etc.
Look the person who asked the question in the eye. Take your time. If necessary, have them repeat the question. Buy time if necessary. Formulate an outline before you start talking. Be concise. Don't ramble.
Hopefully, more can chime in with specifics. Good luck.
USNA69 gives great advice. With my S he knew he could not really prepare for specific questions but types of questions. You certainly should know why you want to go to a SA and serve in the military. Be prepared to get hit with a statement about your record rather than a question; my S was told by one member "your grades did not exactly bowl us over." He took that as meaning "could you explain this" and he hit it head on. He got the nomination by the way.
One thing to keep in mind is that the interviewers typically have some connection with a SA but not necessarily the one for which they're interviewing. Thus, don't "bad mouth" one SA when interviewing for another.
Be prepared to have a "first choice" among SAs. This issue tends to come up more often in competitive/populous geographic districts -- where you may have to make a "ranking" even before your interview. However, if you are applying to more than one SA, give some thought to the following question: "If [the MOC] can only nominate you for one SA, which one would you prefer and why?"
Your answer should be honest -- if you say you'd be equally happy at both/all, be sure that's true. And don't try to game the system by picking the less competitive (in your area) SA -- that sort of thing always backfires.
Bring a copy of your transcript, resume and anything else you've submitted to the MOC. Be sure to read over everything before your interview in case, for example, they ask you about something you wrote in your essay(s). It looks bad to say that you can't remember what you wrote.
Every MOC nom interview will be different. There is no script and MOCs can conduct the process any way they want. It probably won't be too different from your BGO interview other than that the MOC committees will have much more information about you than the BGO and they are looking to pick a certain number of candidates (whereas the BGO makes general recommendations).
One thing my daughter did which proved helpful was to create a resume. She updated it before the interview and printed out several copies, keeping a copy for herself.
She brought all the copies of the resume with her in a portfolio and a pen into the interview - this gave her something to hang onto.
Before she sat down she handed each interviewer a copy of her resume. They loved it.
Just wanted to thank everyone for some of the great tips through here on the nomination interviews. My D had her interview with congressional selection committee today- went well she said.
She followed the advice about taking a copy of resume and transcripts- she took 5 copies and there were 9 people at the table- gulp. But- they promptly told her that it would be duly noted that she was "organized and prepared" but they all had copies so they didn't need them So I guess it was it good she had them but she it through her off that they wouldn't take them- lol.
Focused very much on the EC's on her resume- asked a lot of details on her leadership qualities, why she wanted to attend that academy. No "silly" questions and no current events questions. She also got them laughing which was a very good thing at the end. Leaves people with a good feeling as it was about a scholarship she had to turn down in order to continue to pursue the USNA.
Keeping our fingers crossed. Thanks again everyone-
Though you already had your interview today, here's a bit more for those who haven't had one yet....
I just had a nomination interview this morning, and I got asked about everything you can think of. I had 5 interviers, all pulled from the local community and all having some sort of standing in the area (2 or 3 had held city/county seats) but none of them had any military ties. This may be atypical, but I got asked a few questions about Darfur and China, so you might want to do a bit of reading on current events just in case. Here's a few other things I was asked:
- "Please talk about the most difficult thing you've ever faced and how you overcame it."
- "What do you feel about women in the service?"
- "What do you think makes you able to work with people of different races and ethnicities effectively?" (One of my most difficult questions, because it was hard to communicate effectively.)
- "Why the Air Force?"
- "What will you do if you do not receive an appointment?" (No, the correct answer is not "cry" =P)
- "Tell us 3 books you've read outside of school and what you got out of them"
The whole interview was around 45 minutes and there were a lot more questions, but this should help give some of you a gist of questions that may come up. Be prepared for the big questions like "Why the military" and "Why [insert service academy here]." Try and be well dressed, don't forget your sirs and ma'ams, and make eye contact. The latter seems to be very important. When answering a question I like to start by making eye contact with the person who asked me first, then make eye contact with each other person down the line a few seconds at a time. Talk slow so you don't trip over yourself, and take a second to think before you answer.
this reminds me - My daughter was asked what her favorite book was.
She is NOT a reader - she typically can't sit still long enought to read - always doing some sort of sport.
Her answer - Green Eggs and Ham! yep. I was like--
I said could you not have picked something more cerebral? You loved To Kill a Mockingbird!
She then explained that it always encourages her to try new things. So there you go.
She was also asked what she had planned for a back up - her answer and Army ROTC scholarship and the university she would attend.
One interviewer exclaimed - "Oh wow, you really are serious about being an Army officer!" yeah. She was like - "huh?". Then thought to herself - what do they think I am here for?
The diversity question - West Point requires candidates to write about it on their essay - that IMHO is an important question. Not so much to leave you tongue tied - which is understandable - but often you can pick up serious prejudices from the initial comment/reaction.
I am sure they did not ask her what she thought about men being in the service.
The diversity comment is interesting as my daughter was the ONLY female in the waiting area amongst many, many guys until one other girl came in (applying for air force). Maybe it will work in her favor though in the end?
Part of the panel was military -retired or other she said. And they did work hard to help her relax- gave her a glass of water. She got a little off track on one question and they told her to calm down and she took a breath, smiled and started over.
She did comment that she was glad she wasn't interviewing last year- apparently the committe was made up of 18 members- all of them there in a semi-circle around the candidate
Son had his MOC interview early this morning..things went very smoothly according to him (after a long 95 mile drive in freezing rain for me ), he was very well prepared thanks in large part to the excellent posts on here. He had copies of his updated resume that he handed out to the review board members as he introduced himself. The board (6 members in attendance)was composed of several retired officers as well as regional community leaders, 3 female, 3 male. Each member asked 2 questions, predominantly involving his HS ECAs and what he knew about the USNA , interested career path, etc. 2 or 3 questions came directly from his resume and his application essay. Interview lasted a fast 21 minutes.....one board member walked out with Son complementing him on his presentation. Several other candidates in waiting area were seriously underdressed for the Nom interview.......probably hoping to go to WP.
Thanks for all the help answering questions .
I am glad your son could benefit from the experience of our children.
Please explain your WP comment...I am bristling a little bit, and am trying to figure out what you meant about the underdressed hoping for WP. My son was in a spiffy suit for his WP interview...as were all the other boys that day. I have not made it a secret that I prefer my son choose USNA; however, I feel all the academies are excellent and worthy of equal respect and esteem.
no insult was intended...just a touch of navy humor.........actually the next young man interviewed was WP candidate from our town, very nicely dressed and prepared........a few others in the room had on tennis shoes,jeans and sweaters, which surprised me.......
Pima.......suggest sky blue flipflops w/ sparkling star bursts, sure to be noticed
Son's resume was a simple copy sent w/ the original nom app , with some updated ECA's and volunteer services......single page, front and back. The board had been given all of his info 2 weeks ago by the SA coordinator, but it never hurts to "be prepared "...he said they gladly accepted the current resume.
Son received a list of 2008 CVW dates in the mail today......I suggested we fly out to USNA one of those upcoming weekends to assist in his final decision process. He already has 1 nom and an LOA to USNA...waiting to hear from U.Va. and Vandy.
Thanks for the explanation. I am fairly confident I am the mom of a future WP cadet, so my mommy senses were tingling a bit. We may see you at a future USNA CVW as son was invited...just have to figure out when the coach will be in town, as that's swim/dive season for them (we'll be done by then).
Antoinette, we should probably hang out after C'mas...my son would love to meet yours!
my Son is a breaststroker & IM'er(and team captain)......his HS swim team season got moved up to a fall sport(from winter) 2 years ago which cut team size by 65 % due to competition from football and soccer.....and then, this year just 3 weeks into the season our home pool lost it's main pump......closed for 9 weeks for repairs/maintenance......frustrating for the coaches, seniors and parents. He hopes to walk-on at NAVY (or UVA...Vandy doesn't swim).