The interview 2017 edition

This is an update on information I wrote about here and here

The interview

At Clarkson we like to spend some time with our interviewees. We invite them to visit our lab or tour our campus while they are here

One of the 4 requirements to get your file board ready after you start your application for the 4 year Army ROTC Scholarship is to conduct an interview with a Professor of Military Science (PMS). It is usually one of the last tasks an applicant will accomplish, because it usually involves traveling to meet with a PMS or his/her representative to conduct a face to face interview. The interview is one of the most important steps in the process because not only is it worth 200 of the points in your whole person score it is also one of the most important pieces of information the board will use to score you, if it is done right.

Here is what Cadet Command has to say about the interview, right from the additional information tab on the applications website.  If you aren’t familiar with that tab, you should be:

PMS Scholarship Interviews

 Administrative

The purpose of the Interview is for the Professor of Military Science (PMS) to have a face-to-face evaluation of the applicant.  The interview is conducted by an active PMS who will ask you questions and will answer any questions you may have about Army ROTC and the pursuit of an Army commission.

You won’t be eligible to conduct your interview until you have provided qualifying SAT/ACT scores and a copy of your high school transcript. Once you have done that, you will receive a message through the application identifying the five closest ROTC host programs to your home address. You don’t have to use these five schools but the interview needs to be conducted face-to-face.

The interview can be telephonic as a last resort, depending on distances involved. This doesn’t mean you can do a telephonic interview if you live near Washington, D.C. but want to go to school in California. Where you want to go to school doesn’t matter to the PMS conducting the interview.

Any cost incurred for transportation, food and lodging for the interview are your responsibility.

Overseas applicants must contact a stateside Professor of Military Science to arrange a virtual meeting via Skype or other similar services to conduct the interview.

 Tips

  1. Be prepared. This doesn’t mean practicing your scripted responses to standard questions; expect a good interviewer to maneuver around those types of questions. You should still be able to speak intelligibly about standard questions such as ‘tell us about yourself.’

Review your application packet again and bring along extra copies of your resume, as well. Be sure to write down a few questions for the interviewer or panel, too. The typical interview can last anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes.

  1. No flip-flops. While you may wear board shorts and a tank top to the beach or school, this is not the appropriate time to dress down. You need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a serious. No one expects you to go buy a business suit or fancy dress but you should take it serious. More appropriate attire includes items such as slacks and a buttoned-down collared shirt, or a knee-length skirt or a JROTC uniform. Hair should be neat and out of your face, and don’t forget to wear shoes that are in good condition.
  1. Be on time. Give yourself plenty of extra time to deal with unexpected situations, such as traffic or parking issues, to ensure you do not arrive late. You should also jot down the name of your interviewer and ask for him/her by name when you arrive. Nothing screams “unprepared” like showing up for a meeting and not remembering who you are supposed to meet. If you are running behind, please call ahead and let them know you will be late. This will give the interviewer the option of pushing back your interview or rescheduling it, if necessary. It’s never good to show up late, but it’s even worse to do so without giving fair warning.
  1. Listen, Think, Speak. It’s important to listen during your interview and not anticipate questions. Once a question has been asked, respond in a clear and concise manner. Stay on topic, don’t try to steer the question back to a practiced answer, and don’t ramble. Make eye contact and enunciate! Above all else, answer all questions honestly. Interviewers can tell when you are embellishing or making up answers to impress them.
  1. Be yourself. If selected for the scholarship, that’s what you’ll give every day anyway. Walk into your interview with confidence, smile, and be yourself. Most interviewers will keep a stoic face. Don’t let this influence your responses or behavior during the interview. Always conduct yourself professionally and as though you are the best applicant.

Here is my advice

Where should I interview?

Conduct your interview at a school you are interested in, and preferably one that is listed on your application. If it is just not feasible to get to one of the schools on your list do it at one of the schools close to your home, but be aware that the interviewer has less invested in you if you don’t plan to attend their school, and you will probably spend some of that visit hearing about the school and program you are interviewing at. If you interview at a school that is likely to be your destination that interviewer will go the extra mile to make sure you have a successful interview. Additionally if you don’t receive a scholarship offer you will still be on that PMS’s radar, and may be considered for any campus based scholarships that become available.

What will they be looking for?

Here is the checklist that the PMS will use when she/he conducts the interview. The PMS is looking at your Scholar/Athlete/Leader attributes and is awarding points based on what you tell them. Obviously you won’t be lying to pad your points, but make sure you account for all your accomplishments, and make sure you get credit. If you are short in one of the SAL areas, make sure on the back of the form the PMS can give you extra points for something else. For example, you’ve never played team sports because you have had to have a part time job throughout high school to help the family make ends meet. You won’t get points for athlete, but on the back the PMS can annotate your circumstances and give you full points for personal qualities and potential.  This is your opportunity to tell your story and make your case.

What should I wear to the interview?

Use your common sense. Suit and tie is not normally required. Collared shirt, Khakis, and nice shoes will work. It might be good to ask the person that arranges the interview what to wear. We have conducted interviews in the field before, so a suit and tie would have been inappropriate. We have also had JROTC cadets wear their uniform to the interview (nice touch, but not necessary). Just don’t show up in ripped jeans and a grubby tshirt, and you’ll be fine.

Should you bring a resume?

Again, a nice touch but not necessary. You should have submitted all the information that we need prior to the interview. I have had applicants bring resumes, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and scrap books complete with gym club card and handgun licence. Don’t need all that stuff. Again, ask because some schools might want to see a resume.

What type of questions will be asked?

Depends on the PMS. Some PMS’s may be more formal than others. Some may want to have a discussion and answer your questions. Some may want to hear what is motivating you. Some may get off on a tangent and talk about something you both have in common. You should have a short concise answer prepared to the question “tell me a bit about yourself” and you should be able to explain why you want to be an Army Officer. Take a look at this post for some ideas regarding themes you can talk about such as Army Values or Soldiers Creed. Remember that no matter how informal the conversation appears to be, you are still being watched and evaluated. If you call him dude, and spent 20 minutes discussing the best band at this year’s Warped Tour you may think you hit it out of the park, and the PMS may be checking the “no scholarship for this guy” block.

Who and where

There is some debate among my peers whether the PMS or ROO (or someone else) should conduct the interview.  My belief is that it’s called a PMS interview for a reason, and every after action review of a scholarship board I have ever seen said that the board favors a PMS interview over interviews done by surrogates like ROOs or Executive Officers.  My advice is to be wary if you are told you will be interviewed by someone other than the PMS.  Also be aware that if you are interviewing at a popular school in a densely populated area you will probably get a little different result and attitude from your interviewer than if you travel to a small, remote school (like Clarkson University) and interview with a PMS who only does a handful of interviews each year.  I would also caution about doing an interview at an Senior Military College.  Even if you think you want to attend an SMC, interviewing at an SMC is going to put you into a different pool of applicants, and your interviewer may have a different perception of what is the best candidate for a scholarship.  I’m not saying don’t interview at a popular school or an SMC.  Just be aware that the results of your interview may be effected by those environments.

Remember your manners

Yes sir, No sir or Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am will definitely score some points. Yeah, bro, and dude will loose you some points. It is also a good idea to drop the PMS a note or email after the interview thanking them for their time.

That’s my updated take on the interview. Hope it helps. Make sure you drop us a comment and let us know how it goes.

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Lessons learned from last year’s process

This blog post should have been published back in June, but it’s not too late to share the info.  I like to think I’m pretty helpful with the scholarship process.  We are just through the first round of offers for this year, and I’m hoping I can replicate my stats from last year.

The Army ROTC high school scholarship process is a over for the class of 2020.  It was another good year for me and I’m happy with the way it went for my applicants.  Because my high school campaign is my priority, and it is where I can set the Battalion up for success, I look closely at the statistics to see how we did.  So what did I see this year?

  • 80 applicants started an application and listed one or more of my schools (Clarkson, St Lawrence, SUNY Potsdam, or SUNY Canton)
  • 60 of those applicants provided enough information to be seen on the PMS list in our system and visible to us without having to hunt for them.  That means they were in an interviewee status and were eligible to interview with a PMS
  • 35 of those applicants got an offer.
  • 20 of those offers were to the Golden Knight Battalion
  • 9 accepted their offer to the GKB
  • I was able to offer one additional 3AD offer, which was accepted.

What else did I learn?

It looks like the uploading of offers happened quicker and the release of results was almost instantaneous this year.  For the last round, by the time I could see offers being posted the status in the applicants website was changing.  We (programs) were still instructed not to contact winners until offer letters were mailed, but we got the go ahead quicker.

I also spent some time poking around the application website and realized that if an applicant would spend a little time reading all the information on the website many of the answers to frequently asked questions are right there (go figure). This process is not something that can be explained in a paragraph or two, so careful reading of provided information is always a good practice.

 

It’s been too long. An update from my foxhole

As another school year starts and another Army ROTC scholarship process gets into full swing I just wanted to share a few random thoughts about the view from my foxhole.

My Foxhole

For those of you unfamiliar with the Golden Knight Battalion it is a Battalion made up of 4 schools, all within a 20 minute drive.  We don’t have the partner/crosstown challenges other Battalions have.  We are also 4 relatively small schools.  Two are public (SUNY ) and two are private.  The host is a very supportive University.  Clarkson is known for it’s engineer programs and we are predominantly STEM.  We have excellent training opportunities on campus, in the local area, and at Fort Drum which is 1 hours away.

The scholarship process

The online scholarship process has gotten better over the recent years.  This blog was partly a product of the difficulty of navigating the process in the past.  Currently the site is very user friendly, easy to navigate, and very informative.  I make sure I apply every year, so that I know exactly what applicants are seeing.  in the past I had to ask my applicant what it looked like so that I could give advice.

application

This is what my application looks like this year.  I have circled the tab for additional information.  That tab will put me out of business if more people start clicking on it, since it contains the information that answers most of the questions I get routinely asked.  Hope no one clicks on it.

Changes in the Cadet Command world

The Army is getting smaller.  Budgets will continue to get tighter.  The way Cadet Command trains future Officers will be significantly different very soon.  All of those are things we can’t control.  That being said, I have more scholarship winners than I have had in quite a few years.  I continue to get my qualified Cadets on campus scholarship offers if they earn them.

The first scholarship board is meeting, the deadlines are approaching, and the world continues to turn.  Hope to find the time to blog more often and continue to help qualified applicants get those scholarships, contracts, and opportunities to serve their country as an Army Officer.

 

Board dates 2014-2015 scholarship boards

Here they are, the dates for this fall/winter’s board dates. If you are applying for a four year high school Army ROTC scholarship that will start in the fall of 2015 these are the dates you should pay attention to. If you are a high school student finishing up your junior year and going into senior year in the fall, these are your dates.

1st High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 3-Oct-14
1st High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 17-Oct-14
1st High School Selection Board 20-Oct-14
2nd High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 24-Dec-14
2nd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 2-Jan-15
2nd High School Selection Board 5-Jan-15
4-Year High School Application Deadline for SY 15-16 10-Jan-15
Final (3rd) HS Selection Board Deadline for Docs — Missing Items 28-Feb-15
3rd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 6-Mar-15
Final (3rd) High School Selection Board  9-Mar-15

So, what does all this mean. If you have a strong file you should be shooting to have your file complete by 3 October and reviewed by the first board.

Look at SAT/ACT dates. If you don’t do so well the first time you take those tests your second shot is usually some time shortly after the October board, so you should be shooting for the second board and submitting improved scores if your file isn’t strong. Here’s where you can get some help with those tests, use it.

If you wait until the second or third board your chances are diminished because there will obviously be less allocations available after each board.

As you go through the process make sure you read about all the components (this blog is a good source of information, if I do say so myself) and stay in touch with at least one of the recruiting officers at one of the schools on your list. Notice I said recruiting Officer, and not recruiter…there is a difference.

The graduating class

This year’s commissioning class from the Golden Knight Battalion is a diverse group. I wanted to share some of the statistics regarding this group to highlight the fact that they come from different schools, have different majors, and will serve in many different career fields. Despite their background they will all be junior officers (Second Lieutenants) soon, and will be expected to be ready to lead their soldiers in the coming months. They have all learned about the Army Values and the Soldier’s Creed, and they have been given the training they need for the next level.

So here is a snapshot of this year’s graduating class

Clarkson grads – 9
SUNY Potsdam – 5
St Lawrence – 3
No SUNY Canton grads this year

Male – 13
Female – 4

Degrees earned
History
Political Science
Global Supply Chain Managment
Biomolecular Science
Mechanical Engineering
Criminal Justice
Economics
Psychology
Information Systems and Business Processes

Minors
Project Management
Pre law
Sports Study and Exercise Science

Cadets accessed into all three components of the Army – Active Duty, National Guard, and Army Reserves.

Branches
Field Artillery
Corps of Engineers
Transportation Corps
Air Defense Artillery
Armor
Military Police
Quartermaster Corps
Medical Services Corps
Infantry
Military Intelligence

There are graduates of Airborne, Air Assault, and Mountain Warfare schools

What’s in it for me?

Not every one in ROTC is going to school for free. There, I said it. Many people think that all Cadets are going to school for free, and that is not the case.  As budgets tighten more and more cadets will be enrolled, and may not be contracted until their Junior year.  So, why in the world would someone participate in ROTC in college and contract without a full ride scholarship?

Here are some of the motivations and benefits that go beyond the free college education some cadets receive.

Cadet Command did a smart thing a couple years ago. Since West Point graduates and ROTC graduates are at the exact same place when they graduate (brand new Second Lieutenants with a college degree) they decided to offer the same deal to ROTC scholarship winners that West Pointers get.  Unlike some of the other service’s ROTC’s, all of our scholarship pay all tuition and fees (or room and board if it’s more).  No tier 2 or partial scholarships for non technical majors.  Just like in the old days when they decided that enlisted soldiers didn’t fall out of the sky any faster or slower and they deserved the same amount of jump pay.  Back when I was a Cadet, Officers actually got paid more to be on jump status.

Can you pick out the scholarship winners...didn't think so.

But I digress.  For all the applicants who don’t get scholarships, and the students who come to school next fall without a good understanding of what ROTC has to offer, and what being an Army Officer is all about, I would welcome you to consider the other benefits and think about giving it a try.

Alumni, Attention! Drop and Give Me Twenty (Bucks)!

GKB Cadre and Staff prepare care packages for the 2009 "Drop and Give be Twenty (Bucks)" event.

Every year, before the holidays, the Golden Knight Battalion promotes the “Drop and Give Me Twenty (Bucks)” program. This program is aimed at sending deployed GKB alumni care packages in time for the holidays.

These care packages include comfort items that give our deployed alumni a taste of home such as homemade, homegrown, and locally produced goodies, as well as pennants and mugs from their alma mater. It is our way of thanking our Soldiers for their committed service overseas.

The “Drop and Give Me Twenty (Bucks)” program is made possible from contributions from our own GKB alumni, and from friends of the ROTC battalion. Last year, our donors gave over $1,900, of which every penny was spent sending care packages overseas. This program truly exemplifies Soldiers supporting Soldiers – Golden Knights supporting Golden Knights!

This year, we are once again challenging our friends and alumni to contribute to the program and donate a small contribution of twenty dollars (or whatever you would like to contribute). It is even more exciting when we get a note from our alumni, some of whom graduated in the early decades of the Golden Knight Battalion.

If you wold like to donate to the 2010 “Drop and Give Me Twenty (Bucks)” program, you may send your donation (or note for our deployed alumni) to:

Clarkson Army ROTC
BOX 5875
Potsdam, NY 13699

Please make your checks payable to “Cadet Association”

We look forward to seeing our Golden Knight alumni step up and send their well wishes (and their twenty bucks!) for the 2010 “Drop and Give Me Twenty (Bucks)” program.

If you have any questions about the program, or would like more info about our deployed alumni, please contact Shirley Mousaw (email) or call 315-265-2180.