Many candidates in preparing for their ROTC interview concentrate rightfully so on what questions will be posed to them by the interviewer.   We have talked about how to prepare for the interview as well as some of the types of questions which will be asked in previous posts.

At the end of most of these interviews, the interviewer will ask if the candidate has any questions of him or her.  This presents you the opportunity to ask excellent questions which ensures the interview ends on a high note.  Even if your interview did not go as well as planned, having great questions can help save an interview or turn around one that wasn’t going as well.

So, what some great questions to ask (and not to ask)?   We’ll first list five great questions to ask and why they are fantastic and then will follow up with four question to avoid.

 

Great Question 1:

What are the things I can do from now until I come onto campus in the fall to better prepare myself to be an ROTC cadet in the program?

 

Why this is great:

First, it signals your intent to become a cadet and that you will be working over the next six to eight months into become even more prepared.   One of the biggest issues ROTC cadre have when cadets come onto campus is that they are out of shape and cannot pass the physical fitness test and/or are overweight.  By signaling that you will be hard at work preparing for the fall, it shows your interest and well as intent to enroll and succeed.

 

 

Great Question 2:

Can you tell me about how the ROTC order of merit or ranking works to determine what specialty you receive?  I want to be a military intelligence officer…. a pilot…..a submariner.

 

Why this is great:

Again, it shows that you are planning to enroll in ROTC.  Also, that you have researched the specialties within the military service and have an idea of what you want to do.   ROTC order of merit is always on the mind of cadets in these programs and asking for an explanation of this process shows you know what is important to a cadet.   It shows your overall knowledge.

 

 

Great Question 3:

I am very interested in summer training opportunities that ROTC provides.    Can you tell me about some of these schools or trainings I can attend over the summer while I am out of school?

 

Why this is great:

Summer training is where ROTC cadets and midshipmen get their most dynamic and in depth training without the distractions of school.  Many of these opportunities are volunteer in nature and given only to the best ROTC students.  By showing interest, you impress upon the interviewers that you want to be a top person in the program and go beyond the minimum training requirements.

 

 

Great Question 4:

What additional opportunities to do you have in ROTC outside of the mandatory classes and trainings?  I have heard of your drill team…Ranger Challenge.. ect.

 

Why this is great:

 

Similar to Question 3, it shows you want to go beyond the minimum and you will be involved and a standout ROTC student.   Sometimes ROTC have a hard time filling their drill teams and other teams outside of the normal required activities.  By showing interest in these “extra” programs, it shows that you will be a person who they will be able to count on to go the additional mile.

 

 

Great Question 5:

What are some of the challenges in balancing my time in ROTC with academics?   I want to really get involved in ROTC but also understand that doing well academically is important.

 

Why this is great:

 

Shows you understand the number one challenge of ROTC students—balancing academics and ROTC.  Obtaining a good GPA is important for keeping your scholarship but also ranking well on the order of merit—so you must find a way to be an excellent ROTC cadet/midshipman and a student.

 

 

Questions to Avoid.

 

While there are a number of great questions to ask at an ROTC interview, there are also some questions to specifically avoid at the official interview.   First, saying you have no questions at the end of the interview indicates that you are not curious or that you are uninterested in ROTC!    Moreover, asked a poor question can ruin an otherwise good interview or if the interview was poor, put the “nail in the coffin” of your chances for a scholarship.  Generally,     any question which indicates that you will be doing the minimum or perhaps applying for the scholarship for the money and benefits rather than to serve and lead should be avoided.   Here are some examples of questions to avoid:

 

 

Poor Question 6:

How long would I have to serve in the military after graduation?

 

Why this is poor:

 

While a valid question on the surface, this question may indicate that you are looking at doing the minimum after you graduate and become an officer.  While your interviewer understands that many officers only do the required amount of service time, indicating so up front can prejudice your chances and indicate lack of desire for military service.

 

 

Poor Question 7:

How much does the scholarship pay for?  What do I get with the scholarship?

 

Why this is poor:

 

Again, indicates that you are concentrating on the money and what the ROTC scholarship will give you rather than what you will give to the ROTC and the military.

 

 

Poor Question 8:

Will I deploy to a combat zone if I become an officer?

 

Why is is poor:

 

Of course, you are going to be put in harms way as an officer.   First, this shows that you don’t know what the mission of the military is.  Second, it shows to a degree that you are valuing your own concerns over the larger military mission and hints at selfishness.

 

 

Poor Question 9:

What happens if I decide to drop out of ROTC after the first year?   Do I have to repay my scholarship?

 

Why this is poor:

 

Self explanatory–but one of the main things that ROTC interviewers are looking out for is candidate lack of persistence.  Will he/she stick it out for the entire time?   Is he/she in it just for the scholarship and the money?   What is the candidate’s motivation for the scholarship?  At a high-priced private school, a candidate dropping out after the first year normally does not need to repay the scholarship.  That candidate who drops out, costs ROTC upwards of $50,000/year.   A high cost to the military for a candidate who never intended to complete the program in the first place!

 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

Having good questions to ask your interviewer at the ROTC interview is essential to having a great interview.  It can be the icing on the cake of a great session or help save an interview that did not go as well as planned.  Conversely, avoiding poor questions can serve not to damage your chances.   Plan your questions ahead of time!   Good luck in your interview and for your desire to serve as an officer in the military.

 

 

 

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