RAF - How to Join and Preparing for Interviews

So you're interested in the RAF as an Officer, what happens now? Read on to find out the first steps and all about the interview process.

First Steps

  • Initial Talk at the AFCO (Armed Force Careers Office). You go to your AFCO and chat to the staff there. They'll give you the right brochures and ascertain whether you are qualified to apply for the given branches. You don't need to know anything other than the fact you are interested, they will give you as much information and advice as you want.
  • Officer Presentation. You spend several hours at the AFCO and recieve information about the RAF, The RAF/Officer Way of Life, The Selction Process and Initial Officer Training. BE WARNED - many of the questions that you'll later get asked in interview can be answered from the information given during the presentation. TAKE LOTS OF NOTES. Especially about OASC and IOT (you need to know these in great detail). Finally, ask loads of questions...this isn't a time to be shy!
  • AFCO Interview. The first stage of the selection process proper. The interview lasts between 30 min and an hour. They will ask about you family background, education (know your grades!), jobs you've done, hobbies, sports, when you've had reponsibility, why you want to join the RAF, why you want to be an Officer, why you want to do the branch/es you've chosen, what happens at OASC, what you do at IOT, what you do for your Branch training and what you will do as a Junior Officer in your branch. Sometimes they will ask about Military topics (overseas bases, deployments, aircraft etc) Top Tips....prepare really well, be very confident and SELL YOURSELF. If you pass this they will send you to OASC....
  • OASC. (Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre) 4 days at RAF Cranwell. PART ONE is Aptitude Test, Medical and Interview (very hard interview). If you pass Part One, you will go on to complete PART TWO. Part Two is Discussion Exercise, Fitness Test, Individual Problem Solving, Group Problem Solving, Leaderless Practical Exercise, Leadership Exercise and a final Interview.

So what should I do to prepare?

  • SELL YOURSELF. Analysis the things you have done (work, hobbies etc) and use these to demonstrate the qualities that you think they are looking for (leadership, ruggedness, adventurous, active etc).
  • Do your RESEARCH. They will expect you to have a detailed knowledge about current affairs, the military, the RAF, OASC, Officer Training, Specialist Training and the job itself. You MUST research these in detail. In interview, be concise and accurate. You CANNOT blag your way through selection...if you don't prepare you will look a fool say "I don't know" over and over again in an interview.
  • Get FIT. You need to score well on the Bleep Test (Pass mark is 9.1, but aim for 11+). This means that you need to go out running on a regular basis. Can't be bothered? Then you haven't got sufficient motivation to join.
  • Be YOURSELF. Don't pretend to be something you are not. They'll spot it a mile away and you'll fail for it. It is a MYTH that you need a posh accent etc. If you have the qualities, you'll pass.
  • Be CONFIDENT. If you pass, you'll be an Officer within 9 months. You'll be in charge of people (experienced, intelligent people). You need bags of confidence to pull that off.
  • Practise your MATHS. The problem solving exercises and aptitude tests require a strong ability to mental arithmatic QUICKLY and IN YOUR HEAD.
  • Develop your LEADERSHIP. Take any opportunity to put yourself into a position of responsibility, make decisions and motivate other people to achieve things.
  • Decide WHY you want a Commission. It's not an easy job...why do you want to do it?
  • PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE....and when you think you've done enough...prepare some more. DO NOT underestimate OASC!!!

Are there any requirments?

Yes, these can be found at RAF Careers Site

What is IOT?

Initial Officer Training is held at Cranwell for a period of 32 weeks. This is three 10-week terms split up with one week's leave between each term.

IOT is split into phases as well; Basic Phase is weeks 1-4, and is basic military skills. 5-11 is the Leadership Phase, ending in Field Leadership Camp of a week and a half. 13-18 form the Academic Phase, then 18-20 is Carousel, where the squadron splits into thirds and does adventurous training, a station visit, and a management simulator week. Then you do a week's military skills to prepare for the final exercise, which is a week away, called Exercise Peacekeeper. Then you have Champagne Monday (find out if you're gradding or being recoursed) followed by 2 weeks of drinking and practicing your drill. Then graduation and onto specialist trade training.

What sort of things will I be asked at my interview?

Here is a vague idea, questions will change from person to person and branch to branch, but they tend to follow a defined format.

  • What is your date of birth?
  • How old does that make you in years and months?
  • Where do you live?
  • How long have you been there?
  • Did you have any particular problems growing up with your parents? (what he was getting at is emotional family stuff, they want to know you had a stable upbringing.)
  • How do your parents feel about joining the RAF?
  • Are you in a relationship?
  • How does he/she feel about your joining the RAF?
  • How many GCSE's did you get?
  • How many A levels did you get?
  • Looking back, how do you feel about the results you got?
  • What opportunities at school (up to the age of 16) did you have for joining Air Cadets or Army Cadets or Sea cadets?
  • What opportunities at school did you have for travel?
  • What opportunties at school did you have to join clubs?
  • What sports if any did you play with the school?
  • What organisations or schemes (i.e. Duke of Edinburgh Award etc) were you involved with at school?
  • What was involved with your D of E Award?
  • What sports were you involved with outside of school?
  • What else were you involved with out of school?
  • What university did you attend?
  • And what was the result of your degree?
  • How do you feel about that result?

Same questions about sport and club involvment but now at university.

  • What if any, leadership roles did you have during this time?
  • What opportunities have you had to travel, either with you family or by yourself?
  • What employment did you have whilst you were at school?
  • At university?
  • Between University and now?

On to the second bloke...

  • So why do you want to join the RAF?
  • You've chosen Pilot, Intelligence and WSO, what are your reasons for chosing these branches in particular?
  • So you've been accepted, how does your training start and where?
  • And then?

He will pick on one or more of your branches ask you to run through the training including duration and places or pick one point out in detail

Given that i was going for pilot he asked;

  • What Aircraft do the RAF operate?
  • Where is that based? (picked couple at random)
  • What new aircraft are the RAF getting?
  • What new capabilities are the RAF getting? (he was talking about ASTOR (Airborne StandOff Radar for battle field surveillance)
  • Where does the RAF have permanent bases overseas?
  • If you were unsuccessful in your application, what do you plan to do?
  • Having put on a uniform, you are now a target. How do you feel about that?
  • Give me some headlines that have grabbed your attention from around the world? (have enough to reel off at him till he stops you because they will wait to see when you stop and thus if you have just learnt a few for this occasion)

He will go into detail about one or more of these, i had Isreal and the failed road map to peace

  • When was NATO formed?
  • Do you know how many countries are currently in NATO?
  • So what would be your 'road map to peace'?
  • What roll if any do you think NATO plays or should play in the world since the fall of the Soviet Union?
  • Give me some news stories that have struck you recently at home? (again, be able to reel off a **** load, make him stop you. Go for a wide range of topics but be able to back them up with some understanding just the same as world topics)

Then the 'Standard' questions (he may pretend to read them off a card) dont let you guard down, these count too.

  • If you failed in gaining a commission, would you be interested in a NCO position?
  • We realise that in this day and age many of are younger applicants may have had some experience with drugs. What if any contact have you had with drugs?
  • Have you ever used drugs yourself?
  • We operate a random drugs testing program in the RAF how do you feel about that?
  • Do you feel that infringes on peoples privacy?
  • What are your veiws on drug taking within the armed forces?
  • What are you view on drug taking in the general population?
  • Have you ever faced a criminal conviction/ had a/ have a outstanding court order on you etc etc.?

Also See

Why not read these other RAF Articles?