Top 7 ROTC Interview Tips

In this post, we discuss the importance of the ROTC interview and how to do your best during your ROTC interview.

What makes me qualified to give you ROTC interview advice?

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?

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.

If you can talk to an officer in a career field you’re interested in, even better. Reach out to your local Military Officers Association of America chapter or the nearest American Legion or VFW.

Research Sources to Help you Prepare

A comprehensive list of sources to understanding life as a future Officer

Improve Your ROTC Scholarship Interview Performance

A comprehensive list of sources to understanding life as a future Officer

Sources to Help you Prepare for ROTC Scholarship Interviews

5. Practice your ROTC interview

I have had the pleasure of working with several ROTC scholarship candidates since I retired. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of practicing the candidate interview with a real person–whether it be a parent, relative, or neighbor. If you have an acquaintance who is currently serving or a retired officer in the service component you are applying for and can practice with that person– even better.

You can learn what types of questions are asked in different types of ROTC interviews:

  • Army ROTC – find out what types of questions an Army ROTC Professor of Military Science (PMS) will ask (read our guide to PMS interview questions and the Army ROTC interview. You can choose the detachment you interview with, choose wisely!
  • AFROTC – read our guide to the Air Force ROTC interview. A note on the Air Force ROTC interview – you will be assigned a unit to interview with based on your geographic location and have no choice in the matter.

Practicing just once probably isn’t enough

I’ve found that candidates need about 3-4 one-hour sessions to be ready for their interview. I am always amazed with the improvement I see. Candidates who were hesitant or unsure of themselves at the start were, by the end, confident and eagerly anticipating their actual interview.

Get help practicing ROTC questions and answers using technology

Don’t overlook using inexpensive video conferencing technologies such as skype or zoom in order to connect and practice your interview with the best-qualified person. We’ve written an entire article dedicated to how to perfect your ROTC interview when you’re interviewing over zoom.

First impressions matter

  1. Arrive early to the interview and dress appropriately. Business casual or better.
  2. Have a firm handshake and maintain eye contact with the interviewer while meeting them. Address the person as either “sir” or “ma’am”
  3. Keep your answers short but detailed enough to answer all of the questions asked of you. While it may seem like an obvious thing to do, many people forget to do this in an interview setting.

Practice your body language

Body language is important in an interview because it can communicate a lot of information to the interviewer. For example, if you fidget or cross your arms, the interviewer may think you lack the confidence of a future leader in the military. Here are some tips for improving your body language:

  1. Sit up straight and make eye contact
  2. Speak clearly with good volume
  3. Keep your hands at your sides or in your lap
  4. Don’t fidget or play with your hair or clothes
  5. Don’t cross your arms across your chest
  6. Lean forward when you speak to show interest
  7. Stay positive and upbeat

6. 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…

7. Come up with questions to ask at the ROTC interview

Come prepared to ask questions during your interview (normally at the end). By asking thoughtful questions, you can make sure your interview ends on a high note. Read our article on the top questions to ask and avoid asking during your ROTC interview.

Good luck on your future ROTC (and Academy) interviews!

Do you need help preparing for your ROTC interview and other parts of your ROTC Scholarship application? We provide full interview preparation to help you ace your interview. ROTC Scholarship Consulting has an unparalleled record in helping candidates win ROTC Scholarships. Please view our services here.

Please also check out our books available on Amazon on the ROTC Scholarship and Service Academies.

Listen to our premium podcast episode on the ROTC interview process here. This episode looks at how to prepare for and ace the interview and talks with media expert Colonel Lee Reynolds, former head of Armed Forces Network- Baghdad.

Access 30 years of combined interview experience with our interview prep course