Posted by: Jacqui Murray | 10/28/2011

How to Prepare for the Congressional Interview–Part III

USNA Crest

USNA Crest

There are a couple of givens–requirements without which you will not succeed at a congressional interview:

  • Be sincere. Let the committee see who you are and make a decision. A Military Academy is a big decision. If something comes out that excludes you–but you were honest–it might be the right decision. Trust the process. No one will be out to get you.
  • Be prepared. Are you prepared physically, scholastically, mentally, medically. They’ll want to know. They’ll have your file and will know. Make sure you’re not wasting their time.
  • Know what it means to apply for and be accepted into the Naval Academy. Understand the demands, the rigor, the expectations and the commitment you are signing on to. Know what you’re getting into and that it’s the right move for you.
  • Know you can succeed in one of the toughest schools in the country. Few Universities require a physical  and medical commitment as well as scholastic success. All the Military Academies to. Be absolutely sure you can succeed in this environment and communicate it to the committee. It’ll take more than words–lots of positive body language to back up your verbal.
  • Be committed to the success of your country. Patriotism and loyalty aren’t trite words at Service Academies. Believe them and adopt them as yours.

If you get through this bullet list, here are some of the questions you may be asked by the committee:

Here are questions that are suggested as possibles. Review them. Make sure you have good answers to each:

  • Why do you want to go to the Naval Academy
  • What are your alternatives if you do not get into the Naval Academy
  • Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years
  • How are you going to handle the pressure of the Academy
  • How are you preparing physically for the academy
  • Tell us what you think of (a current event)
  • What sparked your interest in the Naval Academy
  • Who would you most like to be
  • What is leadership, and what makes you think you can be a leader
  • How have you handled failure and stress in your life
  • What are your best and worst characteristics
  • What do you know about the honor code?

Here are questions that the applicant in Building a Midshipman was asked. Print out the sheet and write your answers next to each question:


Jacqui Murray is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member SIGCT, a USNA columnist for, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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  2. The 1st question might be the toughest! I remember interviewing at veterinary schools and being asked that question. Although an important question, it always struck me as odd to try and answer – for me, they might have well asked me why I am attracted to members of the opposite sex – there was no succinct answer, it just “was”. A friend of mine here in the US has a great story of his evolution from being an employed MBA guy to realizing a career in veterinary medicine was where he wanted to go – he’d taken a year off to travel, ended up in Australia/NZ & worked his way around the countries, mostly as a farm-hand, working at recing stables etc, just to get more money to travel. With each passing month and gig, he became more attached to the work he was doing, & kept pursuing more and more animal-related work. It’s a great story! I can imagine naval academy candidates have similar “struggles” answering that one too.


    • I’m sure when you answered, your body language answered for you. I bet they got it. My daughter had only considered the Naval Academy for a few years so it was a bit more difficult. Her whole life, she’d wanted to attend Notre Dame. But USNA changed her mind.

      How’s your MBA-cum-vet friend doing? Is it working out for him?


      • I hadn’t even thought about the idea of body language being used to assess that answer – it makes sense – if your non-story is for real, then you’ll be comfortable telling it! And yes, my friend’s been a vet for as long as I have, 14 years. He’s pretty content with it.


      • Something like 60% of communication is body language. I always find it odd we put so much faith in the spoken word when it’s harder to verbally lie than phyisiologically (do I have that word right?)


      • Yes, physiologically works for me!


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