The primary purpose of the officer accession interview is to assess your
character and intellectual development,
commitment to the principles of health and well-being, and, most importantly,
ability to align with Coast Guard core values.
You should approach your officer program interview the same way a civilian job applicant approaches a job interview. Use it as a way to let the board members get to know you as a whole person, elaborating on the points you made in your narrative statement. Most important of all, prepare for the interview.
Read the Officer Accessions, Evaluations, and Promotions Manual's guidelines for interview board members (Article 1.B.8). It will give you an idea of what kinds of questions to expect during the interview. You should write out and practice responses to each of the questions listed in the Personnel Manual guidelines.
Your interview must be conducted well before you submit your completed application because part of your application is a report prepared by the interview board.
After you've completed your research using print resources, you should seek opportunities to participate in as many rehearsal or mock panel interviews as time and availability of people will allow. This exercise allows you to become familiar with the panel interview method and to gain confidence in responding to an array of questions presented in the panel interview format, without the anxiety that can accompany the actual interview. Your command and mentors, coaches, and champions can assist you by arranging and preparing for simulated interview panels and afterwards providing honest, analytical feedback and advice from which you can improve and refine your performance.
After your interview is over, the board members will discuss their impressions of you and report their findings on an the Officer Programs Applicant Interview Form (CG-5527, revised June 2004). (You should review this form carefully before the actual interview, to know on what qualities the board members will actually grade you.) This report will go to the selection board with your application folder.
The command endorsement to your narrative memo (and the other items listed below) must be completed at least a week before your interview.
You will not provide your whole application folder to the interview board's members. Essentially, you are to provide the interview board members with everything the selection board members will see. And the selection board sees everything that bears on your suitability for a commission ̶ not eligibility for a specific program.
You should make three identical folders (file folders are fine), each with ONLY the following items in them:
up to two letters of recommendation,
college transcripts (if applicable),
CLEP/DSST test results (if applicable),
proof you've satisfied the math requirement (college, CLEP, or DSST transcript will do),
copy of each degree you've received (if applicable),
up to five personal awards, and
Employee Review summary (from DirectAccess).
Leave out everything else. (Applicants for the DCE program do not need to provide proof they've satisfied a math requirement or of a qualifying SAT/ACT/ASVAB/AFCT score.)
Deliver these three folders of information to the person who's setting up your interview board on or before that person's deadline. The person who's setting up your interview will distribute the folders to the members of your interview board so they have time to review them carefully before they meet you. (For interviews I'm setting up, I require these folders a week before the scheduled interview date.)
You must provide the ESO at the command where your interview will take place with three identical folders with all items listed above early enough that the she/he can distribute the folders to the interview board members. That ESO will advise you of his/her deadline for providing the folders.
I hope it's needless to say that you should prepare for your interview, rather than just walking into it without ever having thought about what it will be like, what questions might be asked (and how you will answer them), how you should look and behave, etc.
Most guidance on preparing for these kinds of interviews instructs the applicant to do research on the organization she's hoping to work for or get a scholarship from. In this case, you want to do as much research as you can on what the job of an OCS graduate is likely to entail. You can't find out exactly which billet you'll be assigned to, but you can find out what general things all new junior officers are expected to know and do.
Being knowledgeable about these kinds of things shows your interest in them, your diligence, and your fact-finding ability. This does not go unnoticed. Essentially, you want to know what you're talking about rather than convey the impression that you've come to the interview to learn about the kind of work JOs do.
At least a day before your interview, read (and follow the advice in) the article, "6 Things to Do Before Your Job Interview".
When all is said and done, a good interview is one in which you make a good first impression. It won't matter if your uniform and military bearing are immaculate, if you're punctual, or even if you're well prepared if they don't help you make a good first impression with the interview board members. Be confident, relaxed, positive, professional, and respectful but not fawning or groveling.
There is currently no Coast Guard-wide standard for scheduling or arranging officer program interviews. Some commands arrange them on demand, others have set dates for them. Because of the difficulty in coordinating three officers’ schedules as well as the applicants', Sector Delaware Bay, CGAS Atlantic City, and Training Center Cape May hold these interviews on a rotating basis on a quarterly basis, not on demand. That is, every month interviews are available at one of the three commands (see table below).
NOTE: Sector Delaware Bay and TraCen Cape May can only accommodate three interviews per day. Also, interview appointments will not be accepted two weeks or less before the scheduled interview date.
Dates and times of these interviews are shown in the table below. The red "x" in the box indicates the programs for which interviews are available on each date.
Applicants: schedule an interview by clicking here.
Officers: volunteer to serve on an interview board by clicking here.
Abbreviations used below:
CGAS = CGAS Atlantic City (location: Mays Landing, NJ)
Sector = Sector Delaware Bay (location: Philadelphia, PA)
TCCM = Training Center Cape May (location: Cape May, NJ)
|Date||DCL||SRDC, CSPI, MARGRAD||DCE||OCS, AVCAD||
|Wednesday, 12JUN2013 Sector*||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 19JUN2013 Sector*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 10JUL2013 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 17JUL2013 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 07AUG2013 CGAS||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 14AUG2013 CGAS||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 11SEP2013 Sector*||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 18SEP2013 Sector*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 09OCT2013 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 16OCT2013 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 13NOV2013 CGAS||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 20NOV2013 CGAS||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 11DEC2013 Sector*||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 18DEC2013 Sector*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 08JAN2014 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 15JAN2014 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 12FEB2014 CGAS||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 19FEB2014 CGAS||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 12MAR2014 Sector*||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 19MAR2014 Sector*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 09APR2014 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 16APR2014 TCCM*||x||x||x||x|
|Wednesday, 14MAY2014 CGAS||x||x||x||
|Wednesday, 21MAY2014 CGAS||x||x||x||x|
* Can accommodate only three interviews per day.