doolie wrote: I'm curious who told JAG Dog that the interviewing SJA does a rack-n-stack. If that actually happens, it is a new development in the AF JAG application process. Interview packages are usually processed immediately after the interview takes place. A rack-n-stack would be impossible. Getting a strong recommendation from a Colonel or LtCol SJA at a big base is better than a recommendation from an SJA who is a Major or LtCol at a small base. LtCol SJAs at big bases are placed in those assignments because they are well-regarded and likely to make Colonel. Keep in mind that the SJA interview is only one part of the overall record. They are looking for well-rounded individuals who will fit in with the organizational culture. Even the photograph matters because they are looking to see if the candidate is physically fit. If a prospective candidate wants to put forth the best application he/she can, that individual should do some research on military culture and AF JAG culture in particular. In doing that research, he/she may realize being a JAG is his/her calling and be even more committed to the process or that he/she would be better off pursuing something else.
Doolie - we definitely rack and stack. I don't believe this is a "new development" as I am quite sure that happened to my application back when I applied as well. The SJA's job is to compare everyone that came through their office and identify their top candidates for each board. The SJA writes a summary for each candidate, ranks them in order of strongest to weakest, and includes all that in the big batch of packages that are sent up as a group to the board. At my first base (a big AF base in a big metro area), we had tons of great candidates come through, many of whom would no doubt have made fine JAGs. But, the nature of rack-and-stacking is that there can only be one #1.
You are absolutely right that well-respected SJAs and those at bigger bases with more applicants may get more than one applicant "in" at a given board, but that isn't necessarily due to reputation or rank. It is also a numbers game, and it can play either way in a given applicant's favor. Speaking generally, you either want to be #1 at a smaller base (with presumably fewer applicants), or #1-2 or 3 at a larger base (with presumably more applicants). In our case, being a big base with lots of applicants, usually our #s 2 and 3 also got picked up. That wasn't always the case, however. Sometimes people were #1 or #2 and didn't get picked up at all.
Insert here the important reminder that the physical fitness aspect of your application is EXTREMELY important. We had an amazing candidate who did not get picked up, despite being highly ranked by our awesome and very well-respected SJA. The feedback was that the AF was concerned about the potential fitness issue. So, be warned that the photograph documents potential fitness as well as your general professionalism. It isn't necessary to hire a professional photog, but obviously avoid piles of dirty laundry or beer bottles or other weird and inappropriate things. You don't have to be in perfect shape to apply, but you have to be working on it and getting close to where you need to be.
Also insert here the reminder that EVERYONE in the office can provide input on an applicant they meet...even someone who only saw you for a minute.
Finally, it is worth stressing that your interview can break/destroy an otherwise great package. It doesn't matter if you're great on paper. If you come across badly to your SJA, you are done. Believe me, we heard all kinds of stories about crazy things that otherwise amazingly-qualified people said or did. When you have a ton of great applicants with lots of different great aspects, that interview becomes EXTREMELY important. If you think you are just mediocre on paper but have great volunteer/public-interest activities, a great interview, and really impress the SJA and the office, that can push you up to the top.
While it is probably true that higher ranked SJA's get more for their recommendations than a more junior SJA, JagDog's strategy totally made sense based on our practices. The advice he apparently got (and followed) is exactly what I usually recommend.