The first item on the agenda before my two day MEPS journey was underway was to go to my OCS board interview at 0930 (should probably start learning military speak now, huh?!) on May 24. I must admit: I did a lot to work myself up in the preceding days before the interview–reading more horror stories about how others had difficult interviews, their interviewers doing their best to rattle the officer candidates to see how they would do under pressure. I don’t pretend to be a great interviewer…I have standard answers to basic questions but I was worried I would be asked military-specific questions and/or things I simply have no clue how to answer. My biggest interviewing downfalls are (1) being asked a question and my mind turning instantly blank. Even when I take a few moments to concoct an answer in my head, it’s still simply empty, and (2) my mind racing so fast that my answers become a jumbled mess. Two rational fears that would not look good to Army board interviewers.
I wore a black skirt suit with hair pulled back for the interview and did not feel out of place. I showed up to the recruiters office pretty anxious, but was luckily told that the interview would be fairly lax, and is just another box that must be checked to continue on in my enlistment process. I was shown into the conference room where I met my interviewers, shook hands, and took a seat across from them.
We started the interview by them asking for a brief introduction of myself (which is the interview opening I love because what better way to calm my nerves than to talk about the one thing I know best: myself), and shared my educational and employment background. I was told the interview portion would consist of three questions, one asked by each interviewer. Truly, I don’t remember what the first two questions were, and only remember the third because it stumped me and I wasn’t sure my answer was the response he was looking for.
The final question was a four-parter: what were my five and ten year plans for both my civilian and military careers? My biggest fear was here! I maybe had a five year plan but God knows what I wanted my life to be like in ten years?! I know next to nothing about the military so I had NO idea what my five and ten year plans for the military should or could look like! I began explaining my goals on the civilian side because that is the life I’m familiar living. I detailed my goals to go to grad school to pursue a career I enjoy and be successful at it. On the military side, I had relayed the fact that I knew contracts were eight years in length, and I hoped that by five years I was enjoying being a part of the Army and it was bringing as much positivity to my life as I think it will, and by ten years I hoped to have signed my second contract. This seemed like a pretty meek answer to me, but after responding, the interviewer shared that he liked to ask that question as a gauge to see who comes from a strong military background and who doesn’t. He said he often gets individuals that say by five years they want to be a Captain and ten years a Major, etc.
I believe at some point I was asked the cliche “why do you want to become an officer?” question, and I am thankful I had rehearsed my answer non-stop for 24 hours. As someone with little leadership background, my answer was very straight forward and humble. I told them, as I’ve mentioned on my blog already multiple times, I want to join the military first and foremost. Whether that meant enlisting or commissioning as an officer, my goal is to join the Army. I want to pursue the officer path because, simply, I meet the requirements and I know I can do it. I don’t want to lie and say I have an extensive repertoire in leadership activities, but I’m a moldable personality and I hope to learn those leadership skills through OCS. I wouldn’t waste both their time and my own time if I wasn’t sure I could be a successful officer.
One thing that I felt was a positive, particularly to one of the interviewers, were my candid responses about being a born leader with all the knowledge and characteristics it takes to become an officer at this point. He stated the officer route sometimes attracts overly confident individuals that think they have it all figured out already. He seemed pleased that I wasn’t overselling my abilities, but I was eager to learn. We spoke about what career I would like as an officer, something I have looked into, but was pretty open to exploring more. I relayed that I did not want to do something in the science/medical field as I hoped to learn a new skill and be a part of a team in a discipline different from my full-time work.
Overall, the interview was very brief (I believe I was done after half an hour), and positive. We spoke about OCS as a future endeavor, but I left being unsure whether I had passed or not. After sitting in the recruiting office continuing paperwork, I asked my recruiter if they would have told me if I hadn’t passed and wasn’t to continue the officer course, and he assured me that he would have at least been sent an e-mail saying ‘no, we’re going to pass on her’…HA! From there, it was time to go to MEPS and take the ASVAB!