Questions To Ask Your Recruiter

Here on we’ve quite often potential recruits come to this site saying something to the effect of “I’m thinking about joining the marines, is it really worth it?”. We’ve also had a few “motivated” marines come here saying “If you want to hear what the marine corps is really like, don’t come to a site called “iHateTheUSMC”! Go get a balanced opinion!” While I think our site does a pretty good job of being balanced and truthful, I agree that you shouldn’t have to just take our word for it.

To that end, I’ve compiled this list of questions that any potential recruit for any branch of the military should ask their recruiter before joining. I’ve organized the questions by category; however, be advised that there are some questions that overlap and could fit into multiple categories. Also, with many of the questions (especially #4) the actual answer your recruiter gives you is less important than the way your recruiter behaves while answering. If he’s visibly struggling to answer some questions (i.e. #13 and it’s Follow-up Questions) the odds are pretty good that he knows that the corps messed up, so he was going to paint a one-sided picture and get you to enlist based on propaganda instead of fact. The moral of the story, pay close attention both to what your recruiter says, and how he says it.

That  being said, here’s a list of some questions you can ask your recruiter (from any branch) to help you make your decision:

Questions About The Quality of People In The Marine Corps:

1. “There are two predominant images of marines in popular culture: They’re either swashbuckling womanizers that drink a lot or they are disciplined and elite shock troops that hone their craft of war-fighting all the time. They can’t be both of these, so which is it?”
2. “I’ve heard  that more marines die each year from vehicle accidents than from gunfire. Why is that?”
3. “Is it true that most people join the marine corps for patriotic service, but remain in for financial security?”
4. “Are female marines girlfriend/wife material?”
[Note: This is one the cases where the literal answer to your question doesn’t matter. The point of this question is to see if your recruiter turns into a sexist POS when asked about female marines. If so, I think you’ve learned all you need to know about the type of people in the marine corps.]
5. “Why is the divorce rate in the marine corps so much higher than that of other branches?”
6. “What is a motard?”
7. “Is it true that marines don’t steal? Then why are marines required to keep their doors locked, and the wall lockers inside their rooms padlocked? Who are they trying to keep out if it’s not other marines?”
8. “When I get out of boot camp, how many times a day will I hear my superiors complaining about the good old days in the “Old Corps” when they didn’t need to try to be a good leader because they could just beat the shit out of anyone who didn’t perform to their standards?”
9. “Is it true that it’s harder to be kicked out of boot camp than it is to graduate?”
Follow-up Questions: “Is it true that you have three chances to pass any boot camp graduation requirement before you’ll even be dropped back a week in training?” “Is it true that – if you injure yourself – you can be kept in a medical rehabilitation platoon (MRP) for a year until you recover enough to be put back into training?” “Is it true that you don’t actually have to complete any of the obstacles in the Crucible in order to graduate? Is it really the case that, if you don’t get severely injured, you’ll automatically pass?” “Is it true that your D.I.’s will do anything in their power to prevent you from being kicked out, even if you clearly don’t want to be there, clearly aren’t a good fit for the marine corps, and are consistently failing graduation requirements?” “What does it say about the quality of people in the marine corps, that many marines are being forced to continue even though they lost interest back in boot camp? Is that really a recipe for an elite force? Or is it more a recipe for a mediocre force of people who are trying to make the best of it, but would rather be anywhere else than in the marine corps?”

Questions About Life In The Marine Corps:

10. “How will I be treated as a new-join after boot camp? I’ll be treated with dignity and respect right? The normal rules of decency and adult behavior will still apply, right? I ask this because I’d like to be sure that I’ll be treated like a first-class citizen.”
11. “Once I get to the fleet it’s a normal 8-4 job right? I won’t ever have to work weekends, right? I won’t ever have to wake up at 5:00 in the morning just to go running would I? How often would I have to  wake up early and/or work on a weekend?”
12. “I understand that as the new guy I’ll usually be tasked to some of the less glamorous jobs in the corps, but they’ll at least be meaningful jobs right? I won’t be called up to the Battalion office because the Sgt Maj is too lazy to take out his own trash right?”
13. “What is a Weekend Safety Brief?”
Follow-up Questions: “Will I really be expected to stand there every Friday afternoon as my Commanding Officer tells me ‘wear you seatbelt, don’t drink and drive, don’t rape people… etc’?” “Will I really be expected to fill out an ‘ORM worksheet’ where I tell my command what  I plan to do this weekend, what the potential hazards are, and how I plan to mitigate those risks?” “Will I really have to have a superior inspect my car every Friday before I’m allowed to leave?” “Will some units actually expect me to sign a piece of paper stating that I won’t kill myself over the weekend before I’m allowed to be released from work?” “Why is it necessary to have such a paperwork circus performed every Friday afternoon? Is it that marines are conditioned to forgo their common sense to such an extent that they need to be reminded on a regular basis not to do anything stupid over the weekend?”
14. “What is a Safety Stand Down? Will I really have to sit through a PowerPoint presentation every year where my superiors explain that raping people is bad?”
15. “I’ve heard that they will take the money for meals at the Mess Hall directly out of my paycheck each month. So I am assuming that I’ll be guaranteed the opportunity to go eat those meals, since I already paid for them, right?”
16. “I like to put my hands in my pockets from time to time. Will that be a problem in the Marine Corps? What if I’m just standing there, not walking around?”
17. “If I get sick overnight and ask my supervisor to go to medical the next morning, is he going to ridicule me merely because I require medical attention?”
18. “If I wanted to bring a guest to visit me in the barracks, will there be restrictions? Am I allowed to bring people of the opposite sex into my room?”
19. “Will I get my own room in the barracks? How many roommates might I have? Roughly how big are the rooms? A rough estimate is fine.”
20. “I understand that the marine corps has a strict underage drinking policy, but once I’m 21, is the amount of alcohol I keep in my room going to be limited or restricted in any way?”
21. “I understand that I will be held accountable for my inevitable mistakes, and I agree with that, but is everyone around me going to be held accountable for my inevitable mistakes as well? Conversely, will I be held accountable for mistakes that others make, even though I couldn’t possibly have prevented them?”

Questions About The Marine Corps As An Institution:

22. “Aside from boot camp and the cool uniforms, why is the Marine Corps better than the other branches? Be specific. I stopped playing with my GI Joes over 10 years ago have no desire to fulfill any boyhood fantasies or play soldier. Are they smarter? Is their technology better? Is there greater retainment on account of more variety in their career options? What is it, EXACTLY?”
23. “How is “Hazing” defined by the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice)? Will my supervisors in the fleet find ways to bend the rules prohibiting hazing?”
24. “I’ve heard that it’s illegal for marines to take reprisals against a marine for Requesting Mast (reporting problems to the Commanding Officer and asking that they be fixed). Is that enforced, or will my superiors use intimidation and the threat of retaliation to prevent me from (or punish me for) reporting wrongdoings to my Commanding Officer?”
25. “Since the marine corps is a military institution, am I correct in assuming that all necessary deployment-related gear will be issued to me free of cost? I won’t be required to purchase a bunch of gear like ear-plugs, parachute chord, a rape whistle, an assortment of batteries, or a giant safety pin, right? If I need it, it’ll be given to me and that’s it, right?”
26. “What is the quality of healthcare provided by the USMC? Is it true that a Navy Corpsman’s (medic’s) job doesn’t translate to any civilian medical career?”
27. “Do we get hazard pay for working around hazardous material?”
28. “Drilling and marching formations were a crucial component of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, but now they’re completely obsolete. When I get to the fleet, am I going to hear some SNCO screaming at the top of his lungs about cover and alignment in a PT formation?”
29. “Reveille, Taps, and Mess Call used to be very important in signaling that it is time to wake up, time to eat, and time for lights out respectively; but in this age of alarm clocks and wristwatches, they’re also completely obsolete. When I get to the fleet will I really have to hear Reveille and Taps play every single day at 5:30 am and 10:00 pm respectively, and Mess Call played every single day at 6:00 am, 11:00 am, and 5:00 pm to the point where hearing those bugle calls becomes absolutely ear-shattering?”

Questions About Promotion:

30. “I’ve heard that Proficiency and Conduct Markings play a large role in being promoted to the ranks of Corporal and Sergeant. How familiar are SNCO’s and Officers with the guidelines for assigning these markings? Are the guidelines rigidly adhered to, or is the system that determines pro/con marks more based on whether I suck up to my superiors?”
31. “I’ve heard that my Rifle score and Physical/Combat Fitness scores also play a pretty big role in being promoted to Corporal and Sergeant. Does the marine corps have a system in place to make sure that they’re putting bright, intelligent, leaders into high ranking positions, or can any idiot become a Sgt Maj as long as he can do enough pull-ups?”
32. “I’ve heard that you have to take several Marine Corps Institute (MCI) courses (such as Leading Marines, Warfighting Tactics, Basic Grammar, etc) with proctored exams, prior to being promoted to Corporal and Sergeant  to try to prevent complete idiots from becoming NCOs. Is it true that everyone cheats on the tests by taking them in their rooms, with the book in front of them? Is it true that you couldn’t  even get a proctor if you asked your unit for one, because the unit is so used to turning a blind eye to cheating that they don’t even have an MCI proctor?”
33. “The promotion system is exactly the same for every Marine, right? How does the promotion system change?”

Questions About Your Superiors:

34. “Since the marine corps puts so much emphasis on leadership, am I correct in assuming that senior marines are very capable, competent, and efficient leaders who are able to easily adapt to any situation?”
Follow-up Questions: “My superiors wouldn’t prevent me from wearing cold weather gear during winter on the grounds that it was colder in winters of the Korean war right?” “My superiors wouldn’t order me to move entire pallets of gear by hand when there are a dozen forklifts sitting right in the heavy equipment lot on the grounds that ‘We didn’t use forklifts to move gear when I was a PFC!’ right?” “Since leaders in marine corps are so efficient, I won’t usually be sitting there with nothing to do all morning, and then have so much work levied on me in the afternoon that I will be stuck at work well into the evening, right?”
35. “Since I’m always being told how I’ll be serving my country, and protecting freedom, I should go to bed each night with a sense that I’ve really accomplished something right? I won’t feel like my biggest transferable job skill is adeptness at being a janitor, right? I won’t have days – or in fact whole weeks – where I don’t accomplish anything except mindless busy work, right?
36. “Since I’m younger, and less experienced, my seniors will handle most of the more hazardous jobs initially, right? I can be certain that I won’t be placed in harm’s way, such as the pointman of a fireteam as soon as I enter the fleet, right? They’ll at least make sure that I’ve had the chance to learn by observing more experienced marines first, right?”

Questions About Cleaning:

37. “How long does Field Day (weekly barracks cleaning) usually last in the fleet? 1 hour? 3 hours? 6+ hours?
Follow-up Question: “What’s the longest you’ve ever spent cleaning?”
38. “Will I really have NCO’s telling me that cleaning my window sill with a Q-tip will make me better prepared for combat?”
39. “Can I really be denied my weekend if someone decides that my room isn’t clean enough for their standards (fails inspection)?”
Follow-up Questions: “Can my room really fail inspection if I have water in my sink? If there’s water in my shower? If there’s trash in my trash can? If the edges of my rug aren’t duct taped to the floor?
40. “I don’t smoke. Since the marine corps is all about being responsible for yourself, I won’t be ordered to walk around the barracks and pick up all of the smokers’ cigarette butts right?”
41. “A marine on Barracks Duty won’t wake me up on a Saturday morning to pick up cigarette butts, or mop the floor, right?”
42. “How long does cleaning the shop take at the end of the day? Just an estimate will be fine. A half of an hour, maybe? Or are we talking about 4 or 5 hours of cleaning and re-cleaning the same spot over and over again until the 1st Sgt releases us to barely make it to the Mess Hall in time for dinner? That’s a direct question, and I’m asking you to give me a straight answer because I don’t like wasting my time.”

Questions About Your Recruiter’s Experience:

43. “Are you a happy individual?”
44. “Would you please describe your worst day in the Corps? You can’t possibly be this optimistic all the time. It makes me think you’re not being completely honest.”
45. “Do you have a quota of marines you need to enlist? How many people do you have to enlist? What happens if you don’t make your quota?”

Bonus Questions Just To Troll Your Recruiter:

46.”So . . . when did you slay your first dragon? Do you get another dragon every time you get promoted or is that a one-time deal?”
47. “On some days, when you wake up, are you ever reminded of your slave status by seeing that ridiculous haircut in the mirror?”
48. “Why do I get the feeling that you’re completely full of shit and that if I’m not careful I could make a serious error by believing you?”
49. “Why is it that most times when I see a Marine, he’s very excited about something but has no idea what’s going on or why he’s there? He reminds me of a puppy – a very excited but clueless puppy. Am I going to be trained to behave that way?”

Bonus Question – The Integrity Test:

50. Sit down to the table with your recruiter, take out a voice recorder, set it on the table in plain view, and turn it on.  Ask your recruiter any questions you like (They don’t have to be from this list, they can be any questions you want). At the end of your interview, turn to your recruiter and say “Since the marine corps is all about honor and integrity, my last question is as follows: If I join the marine corps based on what you tell me here today, and it turns out that you’ve lied to me, and the marine corps doesn’t live up to its reputation, can I be separated in 72 hours, and will you put this in writing?” As far as the marine corps is concerned, if you don’t get it in writing, it didn’t happen. So if your recruiter won’t get it put in writing, the he has no reason to be honest with you.

Think about it, if there are absolutely no repercussions if either the recruiter or the marine corps, lie to you, or fail to live up to its image, then what incentive does the recruiter have to be honest? If he won’t put it in writing then why would you think he was being honest? If the marine corps doesn’t allow such repercussions for failing to live up to its image, what is there preventing it from abusing you and deliberately putting you in unnecessary danger?

If you ask your recruiter some or all of the questions listed here, you will likely go in to the marine corps (or stay out of the marine corps) having a much better knowledge of what will be waiting for you in the fleet.  There will probably always be marines offering their experience on, but as I said above, don’t take our word for it, go ask your recruiter.

Safety and Peace