The Blue and Gold Officer interview can be a stressful event for some candidates, but it does not have to be! If you prepare and practice ahead of time, you have the opportunity to present yourself as a strong candidate for the Naval Academy. We break down tips for how to ace your naval academy interview as well as typical naval academy interview questions below.
You can also listen to our recent podcast on Service Academy interviews at the bottom of this post.
You also have the chance to learn a lot more about USNA and the application process through your BGO. Our goal is for you to learn enough about the background of the interview that you can actually enjoy this interview!
For more information on applying to the Naval Academy, read our complete guide here.
The Blue and Gold Officer (BGO) interview is typically more of a conversation. It completely depends on the BGO, but these can last upwards of 90-120 minutes. You won’t be expected to give perfect answers the entire time. A lot of this time will be spent going back and forth answering your questions, as well as parent questions.
What Role Does Your Assigned Blue and Gold Officer Play in the USNA Admissions Process with the Personal Interview?
There are many different Blue and Gold Officers that work with Naval Academy applicants, upwards of 1000. Blue and Gold Officers are volunteers. They are not paid, they get no benefits from helping and interviewing prospective naval academy students. Your BGO may be retired and consider this their full-time job, or they may have young families and full-time jobs.
Most BGOs simply love helping! They believe in the mission of the Naval Academy and want to help groom our nation’s future leaders. As many BGOs can have multiple candidates, keep this in mind when you interact with them.
You can find who your Blue and Gold Officer is on the USNA portal. It’s your responsibility, or your studen’ts responsibility to reach out to your BGO and set up the interview that is required for your application.
Reach out earlier rather than later. As soon as you/your student get access to the portal, it’s a good idea to reach out to your BGO. The last thing a BGO wants is to get a request in January last minute when you are both busy and could have accomplished this easily sometime in the past 6 months. We recommend no later than September. We’ve created a checklist with deadlines for the Naval Academy to keep you on track here.
How to Ace Your Naval Academy Interview
The single biggest piece of advice we can provide is to go into the Blue and Gold Officer interview knowing yourself.
You should have a strong grasp of your strengths and weaknesses. When we mention strengths and weaknesses, we are referring to these both on paper and off paper.
Your Blue and Gold Officer will be able to look at your application and pick out the strengths and weaknesses of your application, but you aren’t being selected to attend the Naval Academy on paper alone — the Naval Academy is preparing you to serve as an officer in the U.S. Navy, and the role of the Blue and Gold Officer is to dig a little deeper into your character and motivation behind applying. They are judging whether or not they think you will be successful as a midshipman and in all eventuality an officer.
The BGO is focused on 6 attributes during your interview:
- Leadership potential
- Responsibility assumed
- Organizational skills
- Physical fitness
- Communication skills
Your Blue and Gold Officer will be submitting a paragraph write up of their interview with you as well as ranking you in the above attributes by these criteria:
- Top 5%
- Top 25%
- Above Average
- Below Average
- Not Observed
It is very difficult to be rated in the Top 5%, as these are meant to be stand out candidates. To give you an idea, the BGO has to get approval from their area coordinator in order to rate someone as Top 5%. This means they really have to believe you are the best of the best in that category in order to go to that level.
Understand the Difference Between Your Blue and Gold Officer Interview and the Member of Congress Interview
These two interviews are quite different, although they can both be a little nerve-wracking!
The BGO interview is more about providing information to the USNA admissions team. The BGO is providing the same detailed level of information on every candidate they interview.
The Member of Congress (MOC), on the other hand, has a limited number of nomination spots and is trying to make a decision using the interview on who to recommend. The BGO is not directly ranking you against other candidates, although they may do so indirectly in their own minds.
How to Act During Your Naval Academy Interview
Staying professional and composed with your Blue and Gold Officer is an excellent choice.
- Don’t talk trash about the other services, even jokingly
- Don’t humblebrag or use sarcasm
- Stay humble regardless of your previous experiences including participation in JROTC, etc
- Be yourself!
Know Your On-paper Strengths and Weakness
Understand if there are discrepancies between parts of your application, you’ll be asked about them. Just one example, if you have an excellent GPA but less than stellar test scores, can you explain this? Can you go deeper than simply answering “I’m a terrible test taker”?
Go deeper and acknowledge your weaknesses. Come up with a plan of attack. Show that you are taking the initiative to address your weaknesses.
If you are stronger with less technical subjects like English, do you have a plan on how to get through the academically challenging STEM classes? Being able to explain how you will utilize your strengths to supplement and overcome your weaknesses is a huge plus the interviewer will recognize.
Show what you are passionate about and be able to describe how that comes through into the world. As an example when it comes to the activities and leadership you are involved in, be able to clearly describe what you do and how you contribute to the group or organization.
This alone will set you leagues apart from other students the Blue and Gold Officer has interviewed.
Know Your Off-paper Strengths and Weaknesses
What do we mean by “off-paper”? We mean the character traits that aren’t found in your application. You have the chance to fill in the gaps of your application during this invaluable time with your Blue and Gold Officer. You have the potential to demonstrate your emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others. Perhaps you’ve overcome hardships in your life not reflected in your application. Whatever makes you special, now is the time to shine.
Review Your Application Right Before Your Interview
Read through your entire application so you are up to date with everything. A lot of applicants take tests multiple times or make major decisions regarding which service academies they are no longer applying to. Understanding what your paperwork says about you and being able to speak through your decisions is important. Your Blue and Gold Officer likely read through your application, so be familiar with what they know about you! You’ll be more prepared for questions.
Come up with Questions to Ask your Blue and Gold Officer Before the Interview Starts
As we’ve stated before, this is a chance to show your BGO your potential. Having questions is a great way to demonstrate you are invested in the Navy and serious about your application.
Interview Skills to Practice
Your interview skills will stay with you throughout your entire life, so they are worth practicing!
There are a few skills to hone to give off a confidence and natural leadership vibe that will help you during your interview:
- Be yourself and relax as much as possible (we know this is easier said than done!)
- Make eye contact
- Speak clearly and with confidence
- Don’t rush your speech, speak conversationally
- Practice answers to gain familiarity with topics to avoid verbal crutches (uh, like, um)
- Answer the specific question asked
- Listen to the entire question – it’s okay to take a moment to think
- Figure out a natural way of using hands in advance
- Wear professional or workplace appropriate clothing and wear this same clothing in your interview practice
With COVID changing the way many interviews are conducted, you may be completing your interview via zoom or a video conference. Here are general tips for how to succeed with your video interview.
Naval Academy Interview Questions
This list is not all-encompassing, as each Blue and Gold Officer will have different questions they like to discuss. It gives you a general idea of the types of questions you’ll be asked.
- Why do you want to attend the Naval Academy?
- Why do you want to be a Naval Officer?
- If the Naval Academy is not your first choice in Service Academies, why is that?
- What strengths will help you succeed at the Naval Academy?
- What weaknesses will you have to overcome to succeed?
- Give a specific example of how you led and improved the organization in X leadership position. (Boy/Girl Scouts, team captain, NHS, etc – whatever applies to you)
- What do you know about Naval history? Do you know any of the contributions of famous Naval leaders?
- USNA brief history – https://www.usna.edu/USNAHistory/index.php
- Naval history – https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic.html
- Give an example of a time you were under a lot of pressure. How did you handle that?
- Do you know the Navy’s core values? (Honor, courage, commitment) How do these apply to your life?
If you or your student are preparing for an interview, it’s a great idea to record a practice interview. It may be a little painful to watch but you’ll learn things about yourself that you don’t see in the moment. Catching verbal crutches and odd speeds are a few of the easiest things to pick up on.
We’ve given a lot of advice on how to ace your Naval Academy interview. Don’t let it overwhelm you! Stay confident and be yourself and the rest will fall into place with practice. Best of luck in your application endeavors!