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Old 08 December 2008, 06:05 AM
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Blow Your Top Admiral Rickover interview

Comment: Stories of job interviews as initiatory rites circulate widely in the
Navy's Nuclear power branch. Any officer candidate who wanted to "Go Nuc"
(i.e. be an officer on a sub), had to first pass through an extensive
round of interviews with Admiral Rickover's staff and then the scary dude
himself. Rickover would curse candidates, tell them that they were
stupid, lock them in closets, send them out on missions (one was to climb
the goat mountain at the DC zoo). All of this, according to Rickover, was
to see how these young men performed under stress. One guy told me that
Rickover asked him if he had a serious girlfriend, and when he answered
"yes," Rickover handed the guy the phone and insisted that he call her
that moment and tell her that the relationship was over, that the demands
of his new job would be in conflict with a serious relationship. The
candidate refused, and Rickover offered him the coveted assignment without
further harassment. Rickover was forced out in the early '80's, but the
stories still continue to be told.
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  #2  
Old 08 December 2008, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Any officer candidate who wanted to "Go Nuc"
(i.e. be an officer on a sub)
False. In Rickover’s day, not all subs were nuclear and not all sub officers on nuclear subs were nukes. And not all nukes went to subs, they had need of them on surface ships as well.

Quote:
had to first pass through an extensive round of interviews with Admiral Rickover's staff and then the scary dude himself.
Still true, minus the Rickover interview of course, now it's just whoever happens to be the 4 star in charge of the program.

Quote:
Rickover would curse candidates, tell them that they were stupid, lock them in closets,
Heard those stories, but no one can say it's true. One of Rickover’s biographies mentions several of these stories, but notes that they are unattributable to any single person and lack first hand written documentation. It does however describe then-Commander Zumwalt's interview with him as he described it in writing in his own biography.

Quote:
send them out on missions (one was to climb the goat mountain at the DC zoo).
Never heard that one personally. The most common story is that he told one Midshipman that he would only allow him into the program if he made him mad. The Midshipman then walked over to a very nice scale model of the Nautilus that was displayed on a mantel and smashed it. He was accepted into the program.

Quote:
All of this, according to Rickover, was to see how these young men performed under stress.
And according to Zumwalt, this irregular and rather disrespectful treatment was the reason he turned down the offer of nuclear command; he didn't want to be in "Rickover's Navy." That is mentioned in both Zumwalt's biography, Rickover's biography, and several other sources describing the Navy of the 1960's and 70's during which Zumwalt was the CNO while Rickover was still head of Naval Reactors. Zumwalt also made it clear that trying to develop a good working relationship with Rickover during his tenure as CNO was both one of his most important and fruitless goals because the man just wouldn’t budge on anything.

Quote:
One guy told me that Rickover asked him if he had a serious girlfriend, and when he answered "yes," Rickover handed the guy the phone and insisted that he call her
that moment and tell her that the relationship was over, that the demands
of his new job would be in conflict with a serious relationship. The
candidate refused, and Rickover offered him the coveted assignment without
further harassment.
The version of the story that I heard was that the guy said "Sure, I’ll break it off!" and as soon as he picked up the phone, Rickover ended the interview and did not allow him into the program because clearly he lacked moral fiber. Same moral to the story, just a different decision/outcome.

Oddly enough my own interview with the current head of Naval Reactors consisted of:

(Door opens)
Me, walking towards chair and sitting down as I spouted of the standard memorized line: "Admiral, I am MIDN ____ from _______. I am majoring in ______ at _______ where I participate in_______. I attended -____ High School."

(Door closes)

Admiral Donald: "You've done very well so far and you've done very well here, there's no need to keep you, you're in."

(Door opens again)

Me: "Thank you sir" and I exit as swiftly as possible before he decides to ask a question after all.

Of course that was rare, and at least one person in the group I interviewed with who was more qualified than I was (going off GPA and SAT scores that is) was turned away by the Admiral because he didn't even try to explain to the Admiral why he should be allowed into the nuclear program when asked. I'm still kind of confused and just a little disappointed that he didn't even ask me one question... And I know it's not because I had the best grades or performed flawlessly in my other interviews. There is still a certain randomness to the Admiral's interview, but most of the stories nowadays tend to be of Midshipmen getting flustered doing stupid things (like not being able to find the chair in front of the Admiral's desk or forgetting to stand up and walk out when the interview concludes).

Last edited by ASL; 08 December 2008 at 10:27 AM.
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  #3  
Old 08 December 2008, 01:00 PM
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Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
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During my brief stint in the Air Force, I had temporary duty as an aide to a Colonel Short. I'd been warned he was an ogre, but when I reported to him, he looked me over and said, "Can you type?"

"Yes, sir."

"You're in. There's your desk. Type this." And he handed me a bunch of handwritten papers and was astonished when I finished them in less than an hour.
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Old 09 December 2008, 08:23 PM
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Le Chevalier Blanc Le Chevalier Blanc is offline
 
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/hijack

I was so expecting there to be a link in this thread that took one to a Rick Astley video...

"You've been Rick(over)Rolled!"

/hijack off
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  #5  
Old 26 February 2009, 04:18 AM
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I served 14 years of sea duty on subs [during my 20 year career].

I have known many nuc officers. Most of them were interviewed by Adm Rickover.

I have heard many stories about those interviews, most were fast. He could interview 3 different men, one after the other, during a lunch.
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