The purpose of this thread is to give an insight to people who are considering joining the RAF what the whole application process is like. People are free to add their own advice to this thread. I felt that this forum has given me a lot of help during my application, and decided to give something back, this may not be much, but I hope it helps someone out there. This thread details MY experiences during my application to the RAF. Some content featured here will be quoted from the RAF website.
Airmen Selection Test
(Date: 27th May 2010)
So to start with, you have the AST, also known as the Airmen Selection Test, or Aptitude test. The purpose of the AST is to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the trade you are applying for. On the day of your test, you will go to the AFCO, bringing relevant documentation (passport, driving license, qualification certificates etc). For me, two Cpl's went round the room, one person at a time going through all documentation, making sure everything was in order.
Next, the five of us went through to the exam room, typical exam desks etc, you are given ALL the equipment you need, so don't worry about rulers or anything like that. You are then instructed about the AST procedure. There are two tests, AST-1, and AST-2. If you fail AST-1, you can take AST-2 after a six month period, but if you fail AST-2, that is it, your RAF application is over, permanently.
You then start the AST, which consists of the following:
Verbal reasoning – How do you use and interpret written information?
Numerical reasoning – Can you use basic fractions, decimals and formulae; can you understand and interpret graphs and tables?
Work rate – How quickly and accurately do you complete tasks?
Spatial reasoning – Can you understand how shapes and objects work?
Electrical comprehension – Can you work with electrical concepts?
Mechanical comprehension – Can you work with mechanical concepts?
Memory – How accurately can you remember information?
Follow the practise aptitude test on the RAF website (http://www.raf.mod.uk/careers/aptitude/aptitude.html
) and you should be fine. The only areas that I found tricky were the electrical and mechanical comprehension sections, but if you've done DT and Physics GCSE's recently, you should be fine (I'm 21, so haven't done them for about 5 years). If your knowledge about mechanical and electrical information isn't particularly fresh, I would recommend looking through the DT and Physics sections on the GCSE Bitesize website.
After I completed the test, the five of us went to lunch (Subway!), it was a good time to chat with each other, find out what trades people were interested in etc. After our lunch break you go back to the AFCO for your presentation; this will either be a video, or in our case, a 2 hour chat with the Sgt at the AFCO, this gives you an opportunity to ask any questions, and obtain advice about the remainder of the application process, as well as RAF life in general.
After the presentation we went down to the reception area, and were called in one at a time to find out our results from the AST, luckily all five of us passed for our respective trades. You are then told that you will be contacted within the next few days to arrange a date for your interview. Personally, I was called that very same day to arrange a suitable date for my interview. Which will be the next topic covered...
(Date: 11th June 2010)
The interview is a very simple process. For me, I went to the AFCO, they took my security paperwork (which you will get when you receive your interview confirmation/time letter) and then came back about 10 minutes later. I then had my interview, and when finished was sent off for about 45 minutes so that he could do the relevant paperwork. After I came back I was informed that I had passed the interview, and we discussed what was next (medical.. fitness.. etc), at this point I left and was told I'll receive my medical and fitness dates soon, after asking what dates you can't do obviously.
So, the actual interview itself..
I like to think of the interview as separated in to two stages. First, we have the you
section, and then we have the RAF
section, common sense indicates what was discussed in each section!
During the discussion regarding myself, they were very basic questions, and in all honesty you do not need to prepare much for the first half of the interview. You will be asked about what your life was like growing up, what school was like, any clubs you joined etc. If you're not the sporty type do NOT be afraid of being honest; I was completely honest and told the recruiter I did not take part in many sports, just the occasional kick-a-bout down the park. They will ask how you felt about the grades you achieved, both at GCSE and A-level. Essentially that is it for the first half of the interview, it is not difficult, so do not worry too much about this section, just take the time to write down any clubs you were apart of so that you do not forget to mention them during the interview.
Now we move on to the second half of the interview, more specifically, your knowledge of the RAF. At your AST you will be given a sheet with the questions you will be asked, therefore there are very few surprises (for example I was asked a brief question about NATO). These questions are split up in to two areas, general RAF knowledge, and knowledge regarding the trade you are joining as, and the recruit training process. It would be wise to write down and memorise the ideal answers to the following questions:
RAF General Knowledge
• What is the role of the RAF today?
• How long is your initial contract for?
• Name RAF bases in the UK.
• Where do we have permanent overseas bases?
• Where are the RAF currently deployed on operations?
• Why do YOU think the armed force get involved in operations in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq?
• What do YOU think are the advantages of being in the RAF?
• What do YOU think are the disadvantages of being in the RAF?
RAF Recruit Training
• Where is it?
• How long is it?
• How is that time broken down?
-Name the 3 phases of training
-What are you going to get taught during each phase?
RAF Trade Training
• Which RAF station is your Trade Training carried out on?
• How long is it?
• What are you going to be taught during your trade training?
• What civilian qualifications will you gain from your trade training?
• What is the role of your chosen trade within the RAF?
These questions will obviously be trade dependant.
At the end of the interview you will be asked questions regarding drug use. The only advice here is to be absolutely honest with the recruiters.
Regarding the interview process, if anyone wants to have a chat about any stage of the interview, feel free to PM me. I will NOT under any circumstances give you my personal answers to these questions, but I will gladly debate and discuss questions with you. There are some questions I can give answers to, as they are already stated on the handout I received, once again PM me if you want help with the interview process.
This ends the interview section of this post, next I will cover the medical part of the airman/airwoman application process.
(Date: 23rd June 2010)
This section will be brief as there is not much to say.
On the day of my medical, I went to my AFCO to pick up the relevant paperwork, and then drove to the doctors office. The doctor is a civilian, and similar to the fitness test is just used regularly by your relevant AFCO.
At the doctors, I handed over my paperwork, was given a plastic cup and told to give a urine sample. Went to the toilet, did my business, and left it in there (as instructed by the Nurse). Afterwards I had my lung capacity test.
At the time of the lung capacity test I had a cough, but I still managed to pass. The lung capacity test is simply taking a deep breath and blowing out for as long as you can, it's actually rather difficult breathing out for such a long period. You do this process three times, and the best result is recorded. If I passed with a cough, anyone who hasn't noticed anything wrong with their breathing should be perfectly fine on this test.
Next was the hearing test. I was sat in a booth, where I had to put some headphones on. My left ear was tested first, then my right. For this test, you simply press a button every time you hear a VERY quiet beep, these beeps will range between high pitches and low pitches, so listen carefully.
At this stage I went back to the waiting room for the Doctor (the nurse carried out all previous tasks). When the Doctor was ready for me we went to his office. Here I was asked a series of basic medical questions.. Do I have any scars... Have I ever been to hospital... etc. My eyesight was also tested. I was then asked to take my shirt off so that he could check my blood pressure, heart beat etc, and measure my waist and chest. I then was told to strip down to my underwear and lie on a the bench. Here he checked my ears, and briefly touched my joints. Surprisingly, I had no "cough and drop" test performed.
After the nurse gave me the relevant paperwork, I drove back to the AFCO and handed in my results.
That is all there was to it for me at my medical, next I will cover the Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT).
Pre-Joining Fitness Test
(Date: 23rd June 2010)
If anything, this section may be more brief than the medical section.
I had my fitness test on the same day as my medical.
Got to the gym (which in my case was Fitness First), spoke to the person at the front desk who was expecting me, and gave me a visitors pass, directing me to the changing rooms and telling me where I could wait for one of the personal trainers there. After changing, I went to wait for the trainer (Steve). When he arrived we went down to the gym and had a quick warm-up on the treadmill at ideal pace (12 km/h for me). I should note that Steve did not know my fitness requirements, he looked at some paperwork I brought with me stating what I needed to achieve (you should receive this paperwork when you get the letter confirming the date of your fitness test).
After the warm-up, we got straight in to the fitness test. The fitness test for those of you who don't know, is a 1.5 mile run on a treadmill, and you will be supervised at all times. I had to do this within 12 minutes and 11 seconds, which I achieved.
Note: Do NOT have a big meal before your fitness test. Steve told me that the guy who had a fitness test earlier that day (who was actually there on the day of my aptitude test) actually threw up, and failed the test.
After your run, you can have a quick breather. I used this opportunity to grab some water, as I was incredibly dehydrated due to the temperature in the gym at that time.
Me and Steve then went over to the mats, and he asked me to do one push up, and one sit up, just to make sure he wouldn't need to correct my form at any point. The push ups do not need to be done in strict RAF form, normal push ups will suffice. Sit ups are the usual hands on temple, elbows to knees. I then did my push ups for a minute, achieving 31 I believe, at the time I could achieve 35 push ups so please note that your number will most likely be less if you're not used to doing push ups straight after a run. After a 1-2 minute break, we then did the sit ups, which as above, is performed in a minute.
That concludes the PJFT, it's very brief, as it's a very simple affair. The personal trainer will send your results off to the AFCO, and at this point your application process is complete! It is now simply a matter of waiting for your dates.
As of concluding this thread (8th July 1010), I have been waiting 2 weeks since my PJFT for my dates, and have yet to receive them, so please understand you may need to be patient.
Update: On the 18th July 2010 I received a call from the AFCO informing me that my PRTC would be the following week, over 2 days starting on the 26th August 2010 (the Thursday), a section will be added below with my experiences during that time. I was further told that if everything goes smoothly, I would begin RTC on the 10th November 2010.
Pre-Recruit Training Course
(Date: 26th - 27th August 2010)
This section will be filled in after I have attended the course.
People are free to PM questions, any that I feel could be of use to others will be included here.
Should I wear a suit to my interview?
YES! This is the reply I sent to the individual who asked me this question:
Wear a suit! All I can say really!
Would you go for an interview with a big national company and wear t-shirt and jeans? Didn't think so! The Armed Forces is the biggest national company you can think of!
I personally believe this also applies to your aptitude test as well. I did not wear a suit to my medical, and obviously not to my PJFT. Aptitude test and interview, you most definitely should wear a suit, I can not emphasize this enough.