If you want to be a pilot, you need to get into one of the officer accession programs: USAFA, ROTC, or OTS. These all have application processes that will eventually require an interview. (This interview is not the same thing as “talking to a recruiter.”) Your basic qualifications (GPA, extracurricular activities, etc.) will stand on their own merits. The point of the interview is for an officer to get a sense of your “potential in terms of motivation, goals, leadership ability, communication skills, adaptability, and other qualities.” You need to approach that interview like it’s the most important job interview you’ll ever do. Your interview for Home Depot may determine whether or not you work this summer. This interview helps determine what you could be doing for the rest of your life.
For USAFA and ROTC, the application/interview will only get you into the program. Two to four years later, prior to your graduation, you will compete for pilot slots among your peers. There is no interview process then; it’s just a big computer in the sky determining who is the most qualified. (Part of that determination, though, is the input of your unit’s commander. They will rank their cadets at some point; if you’re at the top, it’s more likely you’ll get your choice. If not…) The down side of this means you will have a commitment in the Air Force before you know whether or not you’ll be a pilot.
For OTS, it’s possible that you could be offered an OTS slot with a guaranteed job, contingent upon your completion of OTS three months later.
The ROTC and USAFA processes can actually be begun online, and you should never have to talk to a recruiter. For OTS, there does not appear to be an online option, and the listed point of contact is “your local recruiter.” Walk into their office and ask for an application to OTS. There’s no need to let them try to talk you into anything else, nor do you need to convince them of what you want. Just ask them how to start the application process. [If they’re honest, they’ll be more than willing to help you get what you need, and it shouldn’t be a problem.] You can call them back later if you have questions on the form, and you’ll probably have to go back for your interview.
“Tips” for the interviews:
- Get a haircut.
- Wear reasonable clothing (or your JROTC uniform, if it is appropriate).
- Sit up straight.
Have ready answers to the questions you know he’ll ask: (Write the answers to these questions out and practice delivering them. They don’t need to be memorized, but you need to have coherent, well thought-out answers that you can clearly communicate.)
- Why do you want to be in the Air Force? Why not the Army/Navy/Coast Guard?
- Why do you want to be an officer? Why not enlist?
- What do you want to do in the Air Force?
- Do you know what pilots do in the Air Force?
- You want to fly the F-22? Why? (Better have something other than “its cool.”)
- Do you plan on having a family? How many kids?
- Do you know how long pilots are deployed in the Air Force?
- Do you know what the AF is doing right now? (Hint: Read the news.)
- If you can’t be a pilot, would you be happy doing something else in the Air Force? What would that be?
- What do you think of dropping bombs and shooting missiles…at people?
- Do you want to stay in and make it a career?
- Where do you want to be in 20 years (a general officer, etc.)?