After spending six years as a Professor of Military Science (PMS) at two separate Army ROTC programs (Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California), I conducted well over 200 PMS interviews. In advising people who come to me now for advice, they ask me what the number one thing to do is in order to be successful in their ROTC interview. [note that this question also is applicable to Academy interviews].
I tell them the most surprising thing for me is how little interviewees know about the ROTC, the Service, and what life will be like as a lieutenant (or ensign). Simple questions I posed such as: Do you know what life will be like as an ROTC cadet? (or) What branch or specialty do you want to serve in? –-was often met with silence, a blank stare, or an answer which showed their lack of knowledge.
So how do you prevent this from happening to you in your future interview?
Top 5 ROTC Interview Tips
1. Visit your local ROTC program well before your interview
Talk to cadre and students who are in the ROTC program. (this helps you answer the interview question about how much you know about ROTC)
2. Do your due diligence
Research what lieutenants or ensigns do in the Service and what the various officer specialties are. The Services websites are great for this and often have videos that you can view on the subject.
3. Visit a local National Guard or Reserve unit
“Shadow” a junior officer for a few hours on a drill weekend. Ask questions about what life is like as an officer and what officers do.
4. Talk to a serving junior officer in the Service you are interested in.
5. Tell the interviewer what you did to become educated.
If you become educated and knowledgeable and do your due diligence, it tells the interviewer that you are serious about becoming an officer. It will impress him or her. You then become the 5% of interview candidates who have adequately prepared in this regard.
Although many tips come to mind, this is one of the most important ROTC interview tips at the top of the list…
Good luck on your future ROTC (and Academy) interviews!
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