Advice to Parents and Candidates for the West Point Interview

The West Point interview is an integral part of the application process. Much like the Congressional nomination interview, it should be treated as an important formal interview and one of the many hurdles you will need to successfully clear before obtaining an appointment.  You are sending many verbal and non-verbal messages to the interviewers.  Although directed at the West Point application process, the following is good advice for any school or job interview.

  • Bring a copy of your resume including data sheet, sports, clubs, activities, awards, letters, offices, volunteer history, etc.  Also bring a copy of your transcripts.  Having a copy for the interviewer will impress them as to your organization and help them with the interview and avoid the need to rely on your memory.

  • Bring a note pad and pen to take notes, write answers to questions and get contact information.

  • Dress well (white shirt and tie with a jacket and slacks or suit works for males; professional looking blouse and skirt or pants or modest dress for females).

  • Use good posture.

  • Use a firm handshake.

  • Make eye contact and face the person you are addressing.

  • Be attentive when listening.

  • Speak clearly.  Do not use slang.  (Use “yes” instead of “yeah”.)  Use proper English and the use of “Yes Sir” and “Yes Ma’am” or “No Sir” and “No Ma’am” is excellent advice and good practice as most interviewers are formerly military (some are current military) and civilians are impressed by the respect shown in an unexpected setting.

  • Think about your answers briefly and answer firmly and to the best of your ability.  Represent yourself honestly, not someone you think they are looking for.

  • Be knowledgeable about the process, and the prospectus and USMA website to demonstrate that you are informing yourself about the opportunity.  Compile questions in advance that you may have about the process, the school or cadet life.

  • Ask yourself questions such as "Why do I want to attend West Point?"; "What do I expect from a West Point education?"; "Is it my first choice?"; "Why am I a good candidate for West Point?"; "Am I prepared for the hard work, sacrifices, rigor, demands and intensity of West Point?"  The questioning process will act as preparation for your interview, but most importantly, help with the decision to attend if you are successful in winning an appointment.  Share your answers with your parents so they are not surprised at the interview.

  • Be knowledgeable about world events and the news.

  • Be prepared to give details about your application points and bring up any new events, awards, letters, recognition, achievements, etc.

  • Ask your parents to be available, but understand that this is your interview.  The interviewer will want to assess whether the parents are supportive and believe in your ability to succeed.  Some interviewers prefer that you be alone and others desire to have them present and may bring more than one interviewer.  Many like the home setting where you and your parents are available and you are most comfortable.

  • Now with all that advice and preparation, relax and be yourself!
Kit Keyes