The Interview

A prospect today asked about the interview process, and I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about it yet, so here we go. One of the 4 requirements to get your file board ready after you submit your application for the 4 year Army ROTC Scholarship is to conduct an interview with a Professor of Military Science (PMS). Here is what your letter of instructions will probably look like regarding the interview:

You must complete a face to face interview with the Professor of Military
Science (PMS) at a university of your choice or from one of the five universities
listed on the last page of this correspondence. These listed schools are in your
geographical area; not necessarily schools in which you are interested in
attending. Travel to and from the interview is your responsibility. You must
contact one of the individuals on the PMS’s staff to make an appointment for your
interview. If you do not appear for the interview, you may be eliminated from
further competition.

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 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. 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 may 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 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.

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.

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 take on the interview. Hope it helps. Make sure you let me know how it goes.


  1. That’s pretty much correct. Dress for success is getting more difficult. I do construction oversight. In the field, boots and jeans are the proper attire. For office visits, I try to call ahead to see what the dress code is. For meetings with the executive VP, that’s probably a shirt and tie.

    Be on time. i.e. at the location in the office 10-15 minutes before the appointment. Too early and some poor secretary has to figure out what to do with you. It also gives you time to put on your game face after driving to the site.

    Ask questions. It will put you at ease and learn about the person doing the interview.

    It’s a job interview and you are asking someone to pay you a bunch of money for doing that job. Look and the mirror and ask would you hire you.

    1. I googled ROTC interview and job interview this morning and got more information than I could possibly want regarding this topic. I’ve had a couple opportunities in my life to focus on interviewing skills (unemployment will do that to you), and the fundamentals like understanding what “tell me about yourself” really is asking, or using specific examples of things you’ve done to answer questions are things that are second nature to me, but may not be obvious to a high school applicant. Do a little prep work, understand that it’s a job interview and you’ll do fine.

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