I’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts those who have a college degree have two pathways open to them enlisted or officer. If you go enlisted you do not have to worry about going to a board for quite some time, but those submitting a packet this is very much in the near future for you.
Boards for officer candidates happen roughly every 3 to 4 months in a calendar year. A schedule is released at the start of the year but dates are subject to change or be added. For example my board was one day before the planned date on the list. Boards happen for other reasons too but occur on separate dates and times, your recruiter will have access to the list as soon as they release one for the calendar year. Depending on the cut off dates for the next board you may have as little a few weeks to a few months to process it all. I had missed a cut off date by 3 days when I came into the recruiting center and had around 3 months to get everything together, however some candidates I met had been around for almost a year in the process.
To first be allowed to attend a board you must have your whole packet in and approved with the proper paperwork. There is usually a cut off date to submit the paperwork and it ranges from about 4 to 6 days prior to the actual board date.This is allow time to fix any mistakes found, and send it to the proper channels, we literally had people fixing their packets morning of with last minute things.
The day of your actual board you will get a report time, mine was 7:30. I decided to get a hotel room near my board location in Raleigh just due to the fact that it was an hour and fifteen minute drive there from my house. You don’t have to do this, but there was something much more appealing being 10 minutes away and not have to worry about traffic. My recruiter met me there, but you may opt to drive together.
The day of my boards there were 14 candidates there, according to the staff this was a rather large board, they usually have about 4-6 people there. One of the civilians in the office ensured our paperwork was in the order the board wanted to see it. We sat around while packets were being rearranged and fixed for last minute details. One of the officers on the board casually chatted with us. We were then ushered into the boardroom and prepped as to how the day would go.
- Wait for you name to be called first person will be notified by officers, all others by the previous person interviewed
- Knock Three Times on door
- Wait to hear the words “enter” then come in
- Stand in front of the chair, greet the board “Good Morning/Afternoon, Sirs, Ma’am”
- Introduce yourself: education background, current job, short and long term goals
- Wait until you are asked to sit then comply, the interview will then start.
We were then ushered out the of the room and only told the first person who would go and after that the candidate just interviewed would ask the next one to come in. We found that there was little rhyme or reason to the order other than if they called in one candidate from a recruiting office the rest from the office would also go. After each interview the person came out and was nice enough to talk about how it went. All our recruiters were there too and it made it a little less awkward to have someone you hopefully trust to talk with. What we found out as a group is that every board interview is different, they may see something in your essay, your work history, grades etc. they would like to ask about. Here is an overview of all the questions I can remember they asked me.
- I have been in the work force for four years. They liked this. I got asked to talk about a time when a supervisor and I disagreed and what I did to remedy this situation?
- One officer then moved to my essay. She asked for specific examples of my volunteer work I had mentioned.
- From there, they asked how I would deal with a personal conflict.
- Why do I want to be an army officer?
- Why do I want to do Army reserve over active duty?
- Do you have any questions for us?
I asked them two questions. The first was the difference between reserve and active duty after this step. Followed by “Do you have any concerns about my qualifications that I can clarify for you?” They really liked this question, and I quote “Damn, that’s a good one.”I had the shortest interview of the day, I was also third from last to go. Mine lasted between 10 and 15 minutes, the average was 20-25, the longest was about 40 minutes. They will converse with you, I made the officers laugh a little, and it went well. Don’t be surprised if they swear, DO NOT use foul language back. Here is a list of some other questions they asked other candidates:
- What do you believe to be the strongest part of your packet?
- Name a time when you felt like you had to lead and motivate a group.
- What Army core values do you identify with the most and why?
- What do you plan to do if we reject your officer packet?
That last question is a trick one! It is to see your dedication to the Army, say you plan on enlisting and want to serve your country no matter what.
Earlier in the day we were informed we could stay until the end of the day to find out if we passed or we could be called the next day. I ended up being so late in the day I stayed. About half of us were left when they called us back in. The reserve candidates were then called forward, we were told that we passed the boards, and we were finished with the board process, welcome to contact our units and return to MEPS to sign our contracts. The rest of the candidates that were present were also approved and informed the next board met in July to make their final decision.
If you are joining the reserves you have ten days to return to MEPS and sign your contract, active duty is the same after the next level of boards if they passed. Any questions? Shoot them to me!