Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

NR Admiral's Interviews In The News

As the news came out about the first 19 female Midshipmen / Officer Candidates selected for submarine duty, one of the articles talked about how all the candidates were interviewed by ADM Donald at Naval Reactors. Surprisingly, the article didn't try to make a big deal out of that, since the writer was apparently aware that all candidates to become nuclear officers are interviewed by NR.

I interviewed back in 1988, with ADM McKee. My interview was fairly straight-forward; he mainly wanted to know if my wife had gone to college, which seemed to be what he was asking all the married guys that day. One of my unmarried friends didn't have that easy question; he got asked what hobbies he had, and on answering, "Well, I like bowling", got told by the Admiral that bowling wasn't a hobby, so he had to go out for an additional "personality" interview with one of the guys from the Line Locker. He got selected, since he really was a good guy.

Anybody have any good NR interview stories?


Anonymous submarines once... said...

My definition of good was to survive the one-on-one with the KOG (in 1971) and not have any additional interviews or closet time to contemplate fate. Never did completely crack the code concerning some of the rantings and antics that came from those sessions.

5/08/2010 2:28 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

RADM Paul Tomb used to tell this story about his interview. You need to understand that although his name is spelled as it is, it is pronounced 'Tom.'

The KOG didn't buy this, told the young lieutenant his name was pronounced 'Tomb' like the place you bury folks, and generally berated him for being so ignorant. Later in the interview he asked the applicant to name the most important military advance of the 20th Century. Without hesitation the answer came back: "Why sir, it's the atomic boom."

Got thrown out but got in the program. One of life's rules: never play liars dice with Paul Tomb.

5/08/2010 3:06 PM

Blogger jemcgimpsey said...

I interviewed as a NUPOC with Admiral DeMars in 1985. Don't remember being kept waiting or otherwise 'gamed'. After seeing that I'd originally enrolled in college as a pre-med, then changed to chemistry (but had decided against grad-school), the admiral asked me whether I'd finally gotten my (act) together or if I was a three-time loser... Must have answered OK, 'cause the commitment papers were waiting for me at the HoJo.

5/08/2010 3:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had my interview last April with Admiral Donald. As I was waiting in the hallway afterward, the officer in charge of telling me whether I passed or not opened the door with an unhappy look on his face and gave a big sigh. He then said I was accepted. Apparently he was just tired after a long day, but my heart certainly skipped a beat...

5/08/2010 6:27 PM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Obviously, those of us who were interviewed by the KOG have the best interview stories. When I was Director of Officer Training at NPS Bainbridge in the seventies, I always interviewed each of the incoming officer students and my first question was "How did your interview with ADM Rickover go?" After three classes (nine months), I could pretty well predict the student's answer based on his university, major, and class standing. There did appear to be some method to the "madness" we experienced during those interviews, whether it was time out in a closet, a sloping chair, or a forced promise of some sort to do better academically. I can't believe that ADMs McKee, Demars, or Bowman used the same methods as Rickover. He was one of a kind.

5/08/2010 6:28 PM

Blogger jariten said...

When I interview with Bowman it was rather short.

He said "Don't even sit. Computer Engineering isn't a real engineering major."

Then he sat there looking down at his papers. It felt like a long time...but I'm sure it was just a couple seconds. Then:

"But I'll let you through and see if you can overcome that."

I said thanks and walked out. Whole thing took about a minute.

5/08/2010 6:51 PM

Anonymous ELT1(SS) said...

EPIC FAIL!!! I can't believe they published those poor JO's names on the web. This is 2010. There is no privacy on the internet. I can only imagine the shit they will endure on Facebook and MySpace before they ever get to a boat. Especially if they are hot!! I guess they can start developing a thick skin now. These chicks are gonna need it.

5/08/2010 8:29 PM

Blogger Will said...

Donald asked me, "what do you think I'm going to ask you about?"
I said, "my D in thermo."
He said, "yeah, what happened there?"
Then I figured he probably never even looked at my papers.
Then he asked me how much I bench.

5/09/2010 2:20 AM

Anonymous LT L said...

So it was me, ENS L for about a week at the time, ENS the Moff (future power school classmate), and about 40 NUPOCS waiting in line for our turn with ADM Bowman. The boys at NR wanted to see my last semester grades before wasting money on a plane ticket. Moff and I being the only two commissioned officers had head of line privileges and Moff went first. One of the line locker CDRs comes out of the ADM’s office right away and asks the other line locker CDR “what’s the new thing on the ADM’s desk?” Other line-locker guy: “I don’t know, haven’t been in his office yet today; you couldn’t tell what it was?” “Didn’t get close enough. Didn’t want to after the last thing on his desk went airborne after some idiot pissed him off”, then two sets of eyes land on me:

“OK your first assignment is to not piss the Admiral off to the point he throws the new object at you. Your second assignment is to identify the object and report back what it is.” Aye-aye, sir. Door opens, Moff comes out and gives me a thumbs up, ENS L goes in. Interview goes well and I head out the door to the line locker: “so how did it go?”

“A green granite dolphin, mammal, not fish” came the reply. Both of the CDRs look quizzically at me, then at each other before realizing what I was talking about, then burst out laughing. Obviously they were messing around with the Ensign before his interview, then immediately forgot about it.


5/09/2010 3:34 PM

Anonymous Squidward said...

{"Well, I like bowling"}

While I agree that bowling is, in fact, not a hobby, I am amused about a "personality interview" with the line locker. So, Captain Scrams-A-Lot is going to determine if someone has a personality? I can't imagine that interview was something other than a brief (and likely welcome) interruption in the long, dark tea time of the soul that is the line locker.

I once did meet (and work for) a nuc JO with no discernible personality - total flatline, in a similar timeframe (an S1C shift eng in the early 90s).

5/09/2010 3:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly don't remember what ADM Bowman said or asked... clearly it wasn't memorable. Or I just blacked out. Either way, he let me in, but I was hoping for a good story.

5/09/2010 4:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how the interviews would go if Rickover was still there. He must be rolling in his grave now.
I guess we'll have to change the Color and Shape of our Power Plant Casualty Alarm too.

5/10/2010 6:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does KOG stand for?

5/10/2010 9:06 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

KOG stand for "Kindly Old Gentleman". That was the standing nickname for Rickover.

5/10/2010 9:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bowling?! That's not a hobby!" Great quote I've used for years since that happened to our friend.

5/10/2010 11:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

After completing my introductory schpeel and sitting down, ADM Bowman held up my college transcript to show me he had circled all my poor grades. He told me he was running out of red ink and proceeded to tell me how I wasn't going to be playing football at Power School so I needed to get my $@#t in gear. It was definetly a relief when he said welcome to the program.

5/10/2010 1:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being an enlsited nuke - obviously i didnt have an itnerview. But Adm. McKee decided to visit our ship. After 2 days of cleaning teh Adm. came. Of course everyone except watchstanders were kicked off the ship. (cant elt teh Admiral see us??) So we hung out in a break area near the ship. I always found it odd when Admirals were civilain clothes.

5/10/2010 1:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there I NR...Aero major at the boat school with good grades, prior enlisted nuke who had demolished power school and prototype, and not really caring whether I got subs or not (fail the interviews? Sucks to be me, guess I'll go pilot instead!)

While going over the forms with our academic history and whatnot, we were told to make sure EVERYTHING was there, and to not tell '08 about anything he didn't already know. The O6 babysitting us proceeded to tell a story about how an academy mid the previous year had dropped a bombshell when asked by the ADM about why his grades had been slipping: "Well sir, it's hard to keep grades up when you have a wife and kids in town to worry about". Previously mentioned O6 then got his head chewed off following that revelation.

So it finally comes time for me to go into the room. I say the shpiel, sit down, and his first question: Why did you enlist instead of going to college? So I open my mouth to say "but I did a year of college before I enlisted" when my brain engaged and put the filter down before that popped out. So I hem and haw and beat around the bush, mentioning something about good opportunities, nuclear training, all the other BS that got thrown at me in the recruiter's office way back when. It was completely disjointed and made no sense...his visage got grimmer and grimmer as I rambled on. He cuts me off mid sentence, said something like "You're in, get out of my office" and...that was that.

5/10/2010 5:47 PM

Blogger Do You Think I G.A.F. said...

So they are going to allow academy women on subs first?? WOW!!! They party to much. for some reason, the powers that be think that the academy grads adhere to some super secret code that will make them good little girls on the sub. Just makes them more expensive, I guess.
I thought the academy girls were the big partiers??? We'll see in about 5-10 years.


5/10/2010 8:48 PM

Blogger tennvol said...

@jemcgimpsey: If you interviewed in 1985, it would have been with McKee. Demars didn't take over until 1988, I think.

5/11/2010 6:53 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I interviewed with McKee in the fall of '86. NROTC program that had been perfect for the previous 3 or 4 years for getting people accepted into Nuke Power (our class broke the string - we went 21 for 23...).

I must have done well as I only had two interviews and both of them went smoothly. I had taken one nuke power class as an elective in my engineering curriculum and I think that the guy interviewing me knew the professor who taught the class.

So they pack the lot of us into the anteroom for the final interview with McKee. There must have been 20 of us in the room - all of the guys who had breezed through the process up to this point and were now ready to talk to the Admiral. To keep us at bay they wheeled in a tv with a VCR and showed us some documentary. F*CK Me!! It is the "Ugly Wives" documentary that I must have seen 4 times before and I was not about to sit through it again!

So I get up to pace around the room, bored out of my skull thinking that I cannot believe I have to sit through this documentary one more time...oops! I must have freaked them all out because the next thing I know I get called into see the Admiral (Alert - midshipman freaking out in the anteroom - nah - I was just bored out of my skull!!).

The admiral fired 8-10 questions at me, I fired 8-10 answers back to him and that was it.

5/11/2010 5:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon on May 11 @ 1751,

Are you a Golden Domer?

I don't think any of the other NROTCUs had enough candidates to go 21/23 in the fall of 1986.

5/11/2010 6:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was interviewed By Adm Demars in 1991 after struggling my through NECP.

I entered and sat down as directed.

Adm D: "Your grades are dismal."

"Well, sir. I struggled a little but I worked very hard for those dismal grades (2.985 in Mech Eng) and I am here. The problem with the nuclear power program is that many of the smart guys you take are not leaders. I have proved that I am smart enough to make it through the program. I am leader and if you select me I will set high standards for myself first and then my men. I promise I will study very hard and I will bring leadership to the table if you pick me, sir."

Adm D: Get out of my office.

I was a bit arrogant in those days. I guess some would say I am still am. Honestly, not sure why but he saw fit to pick me that gay. Twenty years later, I truly strive everyday to live up to my word.

5/12/2010 12:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was interviewed By Adm Demars in 1991 after struggling my through NECP.

I entered and sat down as directed.

Adm D: "Your grades are dismal."

"Well, sir. I struggled a little but I worked very hard for those dismal grades (2.985 in Mech Eng) and I am here. The problem with the nuclear power program is that many of the smart guys you take are not leaders. I have proved that I am smart enough to make it through the program. I am leader and if you select me I will set high standards for myself first and then my men. I promise I will study very hard and I will bring leadership to the table if you pick me, sir."

Adm D: Get out of my office.

I was a bit arrogant in those days. I guess some would say I am still am. Honestly, not sure why but he saw fit to pick me that day. Twenty years later, I truly strive everyday to live up to my word.

5/12/2010 12:45 AM

Anonymous Former 755/742 E div. said...

@Squidward on 5/9:

That wouldn't have been LT Schneider, would it?

5/12/2010 11:29 AM

Anonymous Squidward said...

Former 755/742 - Think Crew C. Boat school grad aka "plastic man"

5/12/2010 1:03 PM

Anonymous Ens Smiley said...

I interviewed Adm Rickover in the fall of 1978 with the other guys from my NROTC unit. I have an unusual Dutch name. As I walk into the Admiral’s office he is repeating my last name out loud as he reads over my file.

Adm: What kind of name is That?
Me: It’s Dutch, sir.
Adm: Do you know what it means?
Me: Yes sir. It means “from the hunt”, sir.
Adm: So your ancestors were hunters. Well my ancestors were hunters and his ancestors were hunters (indicating to the Captain sitting behind me), so we all should have that name.
Me: Using that logic, yes sir.
Adm: Did your ancestors go to Valhalla?

Well, I’d never heard of Valhalla so I didn’t know it was the Scandinavian heaven for dead Vikings.

Me: No sir, my ancestors retired in Florida.
Adm (shouting): Do you know what Valhalla is?
Me: No sir.
Adm: Do you know anything about European history.
Me: No sir.

Admiral now spends around 5 minutes explaining Valhalla.

Adm: Do you think I know more European history than you?
Me: Yes sir, I think so.
Adm (shouting): You THINK so? Don’t you know?
Adm (to the Captain sitting behind me): Do YOU think I know more history than him?
Capt: Yes sir, you know more history.
Adm (shouting at Capt): How the hell do you know? He might be a history major for all you know.
Me: Admiral, I’ve never taken any European history courses.

Admiral goes on to ask about one F in differential calculus, how long I’ve wanted to be in nuclear power, if I had a girl friend and what was that in my mouth.

Adm: What’s that in your mouth, on your teeth?
Me: They’re braces sir. (I’d had my teeth knocked out by a surf board and were pretty crooked).
Adm: Braces? Officers don’t wear braces. Get the hell out of my office.

I made it anyway.

5/12/2010 2:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 5/11/2010 6:31 PM:

Yeah....guilty as charged for attending the Golden Dome. Was there 1983-1987. I think the class of '85 was supposedly the largest NROTC class in the country. Each year we sent twenty or more applicants to the nuke program (from an overall class of 80 or so). There was some pressure on us to continue the trend of perfect acceptance rate, but I assume everyone knew that this was probably unlikely.

THE NROTC unit at ND had a very good program to prep you for the interview experience. Lots of practice interviews and lots of feedback from the folks that had gone through it the previous couple of years....given that we usually sent 20 or so per year there was a lot of data points for feedback as to what to expect.

Most of us ended up in the same Nuke power class, which helped having so many classmates to turn to for help.

5/12/2010 6:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't a nuc, but when I was at OCS, a fair number of my classmates were NUPOCs. They had some fairly hairy stories about their interviews with KOG, which made me happy that I had tubed Physics 115.

5/13/2010 8:55 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember my interview with Bowman not so long ago, and it certainly was an interesting one.

About a month and a half before the interview, I had crossed paths with COMSUBPAC in the last place imaginable: moving his daughter into the dorm I was an RA for my senior year. We must have shot the breeze for half an hour, talking about football, engineering, the campus, etc. When prompted for my name and an email address, I realized this nice pad of paper he wanted me to put said info on had a two star penant at the top. My next thought was: "You gotta be kidding me!" I finally spilled the beans and got one hell of a laugh out of the RADM. He next question was what service, and I responded with "the silent one, sir." Talk about life's little coincidences.

Fastforward to the interview. My original date was changed, and no one was sure why. I finally arrive in DC, get a nice tour of the Navy Yard, and get to hear great things about working at NR. Then they tell us about the 3 to 4 interviews we need to pass. Hmm...doesn't check with chart (and sitting in the room with the entire MIT ROTC senior class was odd to say the least). When I and another guy finally asked what THIS interview is for...we find out it's for NR.

WHAT! You could say I wanted to know who fucked this up. Called the unit...they are clueless. Well, that explains why my date changed said the LT at the unit (oh, and there is no bonus). Hmm...not liking this at all. Then I am told something about how NR "upgrades" interviews based on grades and the fact some guys may not know they can apply. You don't say!

So, the three of us that said "No thanks" got to go first. I was second in the line. First guy in, then out in 2 minutes. I go in, and the fun begins. I start off with the script, get stopped to explain my name and the irony of going subs, and then the questions start. First, how was the aforementioned daughter doing? (In my mind...stepping on a landmine will feel better than this). Explained that she was a fine student and lady, and prayed it would end there.

Thank God he started asking about my coursework. Then, the football season, previous Navy stuff, and how the interviews went. Then, came the best part of the interview. "So why don't you want to work at NR? We really could use guys with your talent. All you have to do is go out and do that last interview." (Ok...bring on another claymore please.)

My response: "ADM, I appreciate the offer to work here with such talented folks, but that's not why I am doing this. And, as I understand it, I am not going to be able to do what I want if I take this job." (That whole 5 years and your done thing...or so it was at the time).

Bowman: "Explain."

Me: "ADM, I want something you can't get driving a desk."

Bowman: "What's that?"

Me: "Qualified in submarines. That pin on your chest, sir, says it all. And, my father would kill me."

Bowman: "Your father? Previous submariner?"

Me: "No sir...previous Army grunt. My whole family is enlisted Army. Going officer, then Navy, then could say my dad is not pleased. If he finds out I don't wear a uniform and serve behind a desk, you'll need to start interviewing my replacement now."

Bowman starts laughing and then says he understand, particularly about the dolphins. He asks a couple other questions, and then he says congrats...and then a long pause to start at my paperwork.

Being told that you get up and leave when the ADM tells you something along the lines that your in or get the hell out...I got up and headed for the door (oh, the door was already open, so that indicator wouldn't help). I was about two steps out the door when I hear..."Hey, where are you going?" The line locker guy standing at the door said "Keep walking."

Well, after a nice 20 minute interview, I got in!

5/14/2010 7:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a NUPOC and 2 of the 3 interviewers were alums of the school I had attended. They seriously gave me a hard time, asking questions that were much harder than the other candidates. (I had figured out who would interview me by schmoozing the scheduling PO while waiting around, and had tried to develop some intel.)

I get in to see McKee and he basically tells me that he thinks a lot of them and they didn't like me. My brain freezes but somehow, at the end of the interview, he says I'm in and sends me out the door.

He should have listened to them. A few months later I'm out of the program but managed to persuade BUPERS to let me finish school and go to OCS instead of straight into boot camp. I may be the only person in the history of the program to get booted before attending ANY Navy school, because they certainly didn't have a smooth process to handle the transition.

5/14/2010 9:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you think you will make it through my program"

"Yes Sir!"

"Not if you put forth the same effort you did in college, get out of my office."

->Was then congratulated outside of ADM Donald's office for being accepted to the NNPP

5/15/2010 11:47 PM

Anonymous Squidward said...

{I was a NUPOC and 2 of the 3 interviewers were alums of the school I had attended.}

3 interviews. That's a bad sign, always has been.

5/16/2010 5:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 interviews may be a bad sign, but I got through anyway. It just didn't stick more than about six months.

5/19/2010 8:31 PM

Anonymous Subsunk said...

Rickover: Why the Hell did you make this D in Physics?

Subsunk: I didn't study hard enough, Admiral.

Rickover: You're damn right you didn't study hard enough. How long do you study every week?

Subsunk: About 15 hrs a week Admiral.

Rickover: (Yelling) 20 hours a week? You wouldn't have made these horrible grades if you'd studied 15 hours a week. What are you an idiot?

Subsunk: No, sir.

Rickover: Do you think I would have gotten to where I am by working 15 hrs a week? Do you think that is enough to make a good officer? (looks at PCO behind me and asks him,) "Do you think this guy studies 15 hrs a week?"

PCO: No, sir. I think he is not trying, Admiral.

Subsunk: No, sir.

Rickover: Then get the Hell out of here.

I got up, walked briskly out of the office where I bumped into the copier just outside the Admiral's door. It started making copies of nothing.......

My Nuke School roommate got thrown out of the Admiral's office 4 times and was about to begin his fifth interview when the PCO said if you will sign this paper saying you will study 40 hrs a week, you are in. He signed and ran out of there.

I signed to study 20 hrs a wekk and write the Admiral every two weeks with my progress. I still have letters somewhere.


5/27/2010 7:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I interviewed in 2009. When the ADM saw my SAT scores he said they were the lowest he had ever seen, when he asked why. I said I was homeschooled and was all that concerned about them. He asked for how long and I said for my whole pre college career. He said 15 years then? I replied no sir just 12. He told me to leave and had me sign the papers.

7/02/2010 12:42 PM

Anonymous idssinfo said...

Quite useful info, much thanks for the post.

6/19/2012 3:34 AM


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