Up-to-date first hand experience guide from picking up the phone to the recruiting office to getting a start date at Britannia Royal Naval College (2012-2014)Contents
- Time-frame overview and dates
- Phoning the Navy and expressing interest
- Visiting a Careers Presentation at a local careers office
- Attending a Recruit Test to judge suitability
- Arranging my own eye test
- Medical test
- Fitness Test
- Sift Interview
- Pre-Admiralty Interview Board brief
- Admiralty Interview Board
- The Journey
- Reasoning and written tests
- Physical Tests and example Leadership Tasks
- Free Time
- Planning Task
- Personal Leadership Task
- Board Interview
- After the Interview
- Lantern Colour Vision Test
- Links and Abbreviations
I like to answer all the recruitment questions with my own experiences whereas a lot of other RR posters will often just link the search feature. Whilst truth be told, Officer candidates should be finding the information themselves, a lot of the posts/ past experiences are out of date and after reading all 118 pages of the sticky 'BRNC - All you need to know' almost all of that thread is banter rather than useful information. To that end I'm going to write an in depth report of the current recruitment process that I myself have been through (2012-2014) in the hopes that it will answer a lot of questions that at the moment get conflicting responses from outdated information.
- My chosen branch is Warfare, Surface Fleet.
- I hope to update this guide to include Britannia Royal Naval College experiences.
- I will put any abbreviations in brackets and explain them.
- Nothing 'confidential' will be posted in this guide.
A little about myself: I did an extra year at College whilst my peers all went off to university, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life and wanted a year to think. I chose to study Film Production Technology at university because: I enjoy the outdoors, I am good with and like technology, I want to lead and manage and I am interested in business. After a year I realized that this isn't for me, it was all staged and rigid. The main pushing factor for me to leave was that the people I was working with didn't want to be there/ didn't have any love for the projects we were given which conflicted with my determination to see the projects finished and successful even if they weren't my cup of tea*. I began to look for other options and couldn't believe my luck when I found the Warfare Officer job description page. It was exactly what I wanted to do, I would be living an exciting life rather than filming someone else's. This is when I picked up the phone.
[*Because of this I am not a graduate, this is a question that comes up often 'Can I get in without a degree?', the answer is yes and it's no harder than it is for someone with one. In fact recently the Navy has made it so both graduates and non graduates have the same seniority when they graduate Dartmouth Naval College. This route is called 'Direct Entry'.]
Time-frame Overview & Dates
I was advised at the career office the wait for Warfare Officers would be two years. I thought this meant completing all the stages and then waiting, that wasn't the case, the tests and interviews were spread out over those two years and they actually expire after a certain amount of time. At the writing of this guide there's a deficit in the Warfare branch and as of such the wait would be substantially shorter. It all depends on the time you apply. I met people at the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB) who only had a six month wait. My wait was longer than usual as I had to move recruiting offices from the North to the South (Birmingham, the central hub of the post Sift interview processes, lost all my paperwork by accident) and I also needed two medicals and a doctors note for a broken arm when I was younger. This will all be explained in the relevant stages. Here is an overview of my personal dates to give you an idea of the waiting period. (I like to think that the wait is a test in itself to ensure candidates do actually want a career in the Navy) For the sake of Personal Security (PERSEC) I have put Early(1-10)/Mid(11-20)/Late(21-31) instead of my actual dates.
- Phoning the Navy and expressing interest:
- Visiting a Careers Presentation at a local careers office:
- Attending a Recruit Test to judge suitability:
- Arranging my own Eye Test:
- Medical Test:
(At this stage I changed location and had to switch careers offices, my paperwork got lost when they transferred it and I also needed to pick up a doctors note and have another medical. If everything goes smoothly for you there wont be a long wait between stages)
- Fitness Test:
- Sift Interview:
- Pre-Admiralty Interview Board brief:
- Admiralty Interview Board:
- Lantern Colour Vision Test:*
This test may only be for Warfare candidates (x)
- Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Start Date:
I will now elaborate on each stage. At the bottom of the stages I will put notes as to what revision I did for it.
Phoning the Navy and expressing interest
I phoned 08456 07 55 55, the current Royal Navy (RN) careers info number, I think this centre is also in Birmingham. The rather abrupt rating asked for my GCSE and A Level qualifications before anything else (I think they may get a lot of calls), the requirements for Officer entry are:
- 5x GCSEs at C grade of above. Must include English Language and Maths
- 180 UCAS (Universities and College Admission Points) for example an A grade AS Level is worth 60. The table can be found Here
They sent me a little booklet that had an overview of all the roles and a recruitment DVD. I was also booked into a careers presentation at my local Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO).
Visiting a Careers Presentation at a local careers office
I wore trousers, smart shoes and a jumper, this is another well-asked question. "What do I wear to the AFCO?", this was my first visit and I wanted to appear smart but not go all out. Once I began the process and on all subsequent visits I wore a suit. It doesn't matter what you wear as long as you give the impression you can look after yourself, want a career in the Naval service and have the right attitude. Formal clothes do this, tracksuit bottoms and hoodies dont. Whenever I saw others in the Office, for example on the day of the recruit test, the dress varied between Chinos and Jumpers to Suits and Ties.
My careers presentation actually turned out to be a one-on-one chat as no one else turned up. I doubt this is usual and I think he was expecting at least four. It was very relaxed and informal and he asked me why I wanted to join the Navy, what branch was I looking at and what would I do if I was unsuccessful. He looked at my GCSE's and A levels and got confused over the value of a BTEC National Diploma, after conferring to a sheet in another room all was set. I told him if I failed to make it as an Officer I would consider joining as a Warfare Specialist, he told me with the grades I have (Nothing super amazing) that I would be bored stiff staring at a radar all day and I should consider something else. Everything was sorted and I was booked into a Recruit Test.
[At this stage I looked through the entire Royal Navy website and used Wikipedia to elaborate on Ships, Roles and Weapons systems. I also watched Empire of the Seas and read the accompanying book to build up my knowledge on Royal Naval history.]
Attending a Recruit Test to judge suitability
The recruit test was intimidating as I hadn't done maths since school. My talents lie in literacy and I only achieved a C grade maths GCSE. This element worried me.
The test was broken into four stages, Mathematical Comprehension, Verbal Comprehension, Spacial Reasoning and Mechanical Reasoning. (Mechanical Reasoning has since been removed in certain branches, or so I hear). The Navy sends you a letter explaining the test and also gives you some sample questions. The general consensus is that the questions are very easy and are not representative of the real thing.
The test results are a percentile of the current average scores for the period, you are tested broadly against your peers. It's speculated that some tests may be negatively marked, that is if you put the wrong answer you will lose points. This hasn't been confirmed so there's no use dwelling on it. One thing is certain, there is not enough time to answer all of the questions on each stage without storming through it at an obscene speed. This is part of the test itself, it adds an element of stress.
I was with a handful of other people, a girl who was applying for a medical branch a Royal Marine who wanted a change of pace and a couple of others, one of which was taking the test for the second time.
A Marine Corporal hosted the test in a back room of the AFCO. He explained each section and then started the clock. There was a brief pause after each section, where we learnt that the fellow who was taking the test for the second time managed to fill in the verbal section in the mathmatical section. If you fail this test you must wait one year to retake it. (Unless you can prove you've had schooling/tuition since you took the test). I felt bad for this candidate and the marine gave him a short time to try and rectify his mistake but the test had to go on. Once the test was finished the results were marked then and there which gave us a time to chat and have a little panic over how good/bad we thought we did. We were then taken out one at a time to review our results. I was skeptical over how well I did but I got through with flying colours and was advised a letter would be sent to me regarding my eye test and medical. I believe if you don't get the branch you want you may be offered other branches that your Recruit Test (RT) score allows you to enter.
The Student Room has a great post on the Recruit Test if you'd like to read about someone else's experiences.
[For this stage I read the Practice and Pass Reasoning Series and completed the practice booklet they had sent me. Common advice is that these tests are testing your innate ability to apply common sense and to reason. In a way testing your base intelligence. As of such "practicing" so to speak wouldn't really help. My personal advice is that if you want the job you'll do as much as you can to ensure that you get it. Brushing up and practicing these sort of questions can never be a bad thing.]
Arranging my own Eye Test
I was sent a letter stating I required an eye test before my medical. I could choose to do this at Boots/ Specsavers. They sent me a reimbursement form. The test cost between £10 and £25. I phoned them up and explained the situation and arranged a date. I don't think the place I went to had done this before - I gave them the form and once I had finished, left. In hindsight I think I may have had to pay and then send the form off myself, not entirely sure on that one but i'm sure it was all done by the book. Don't tell anyone.
This test consisted of looking into a machine and saying where certain dots were on the screen. I also had to follow a light around whilst it recorded my eye movement. There was also some business where I had to hold one eye closed and do the classic letters-on-the-wall test. Afterwards another machine looked at my eyes closely to see if they were damaged.
I have read that to become a Warfare Officer you need "VA2" after correction (Glasses ETC), this standard means: 6/5 Distance Acuity Right Eye, 6/9 Distance Acuity Left eye both with a near acuity of 5. As I don't wear glasses I can't explain what these mean, the information is available online. My personal results were: 6/5 Left and right with near acuity of 4.5. 0 Correction needed +/- 0. Which I think is quite good. I did feel a bit bad attending this test as the eye "people" were annoyed that I was making them give me a test even though I didn't have any sight problems. There was also a brief colourblind test (The sort with the numbers inside the coloured orbs).
View attachment 9081
[At this stage I looked at a couple of those colourblind test images, but you either are colourblind or not so it would be of little use, this one is '42']
[At this stage I looked at a couple of those colourblind test images, but you either are colourblind or not so it would be of little use, this one is '42']
The medical test was conducted by a 'Locum' or rent-a-doctor. There was a long wait for this stage as apparently at the time there was a long backlog of candidates waiting to have their test.
The first test was the hearing test. I have great eyesight but at the expense of my hearing, this test was 'annoying' to say the least. It consisted of having to wear headphones whilst holding a little clicker. There were four or five different sounds, some of them you are meant to click when you hear them and some of them you don't. The problem with my test was the phone was going off sporadically in the next room and one of the sounds on the CD was a ring. At any rate I passed the test.
I had to strip down to my underwear and do a little waddle across the floor, a couple of pressups, situps and had to touch my toes. I think this is to check motility. I also had to lie on the bed and cough whilst the doctor was touching my stomach, this is to check for hernias (There's no ball-cupping, you needn't worry). I was then taken to the scales and my weight and height recorded. This is for your BMI. Anything over 25 is overweight, you can work out your own here.
The doctor asks you a very long list of conditions to which you answer 'yes' or 'no'. I had a broken arm when I was at school and I needed conformation from my own Doctor that it was fully healed. This is my own fault for not taking the advice of others who went before me - if you have broken a bone go and get a letter before your medical, it could save you six months. I have read that bad eczema will also need a letter, better be safe than sorry. My second medical just consisted of me attending the AFCO and their doctor signing a letter whilst I was present, after they had seen my own Doctors letter.
[This is where I started getting serious about my fitness, I began getting up at 6am and practicing the mile and a half, I also changed my diet to a much healthier one, too.]
The Pre Joining Fitness Test (PJFT) is very simple and straight-forward. You are sent a form explaining the test and the time you will need to achieve. It's done on a treadmill and the general consensus is that you should practice on the road and any time you can achieve there you will break on the treadmill. That being said there's difference between anerobic and aerobic excercise so getting your body used to high intensity running over a very short period is also warrented so practice both long runs on the road and super quick runs on the treadmill.
My first fitness test was with 'Fitness First', they no longer hold the contract. After I phoned them an arranged a date they sent me loads of free gym vouchers. I went a week before my test and brought some friends, we practiced the test so I didn't have to worry on the day. The next week I arrived and was told to chill out for a bit whilst the instrucor becomes free. There were two of us so he asked if he could test us at the same time. This other guy looked extremely fit but for some reason stopped halfway through the test, it was a massive confidence boost. At this stage I wasn't nearly as fit and healthy as I am now but still managed to achieve 10 minutes for 2.4km. I waited for 10 or so minutes whilst he filled in the form. He emailed it the same day and let me keep the hard copy with the fitness centre stamp on.
This test expires after one year, I've very recently had to take it again to keep it up to date. The new contract is with "Nuffield Health", they are much more professional. The instructor was very thorough and did warm up and cooldown excercises. With 'Fitness First' I just banged it out and left.
Here's my advice: Anyone can achieve the time regardless of how unfit you are, you are only running for 11 minutes 13 at most, excerting yourself for that small length of time is all about mental discipline rather than physical ability. That being said you should always be working on your fitness to be as fit as possible for BRNC. Additionally - Practice on both a treadmill locked into MPH and one locked into KMPH, I think Nuffield only use KMPH (Kilometers per hour). 13.5 KMPH will get you your time, 14.6 will get you 2.4km in 10 minutes. On my second go around I got the 2.4km in 9.42 which I am very pleased with. (I think 9.7MPH will get you 2.4 in 10, this is why you should practice on both so you know the speed setting to put it on.) People suggest you should get your 2.4km/1.5mile under 10minutes for BRNC. "The test is the minimum, not the goal" etc etc.
View attachment 9082
The Sift Interview, in my opinion, is where it starts getting serious. The Recruit Test, Medical and Fitness test just ensure that you are smart enough, healthy enough and fit enough to be in the RN, the Sift Interview is the first indication if you have the right mentality and are the right sort of person to be an Officer.
There's all sorts of stories floating about the web stating that it's all luck of the draw and some interviewers let everyone through and some let no one through. I can't comment on that, only on my own experience.
I turned up at the AFCO early and in a suit. My interviewer was a Captain in the Royal Marines (RM). In hindsight, looking back on the interview, he was extremely good at what he did. He was direct, critical, intimidating and put just the right amount of pressure on me. It also gets you used to this thing they seem to do both here and at the Admiralty Interview Board where even if you give the right answer they will keep pressing you so that you must be confident in knowing you've answered the question fully without second guessing yourself.
The questions can be anything, here are a few examples I was asked:
- Why do I want to join the Armed Forces?
- Why the Navy not the Army or Air Force?
- Give me an example of when you have led a large team?
- Could you kill someone?
- Who is the First Sea Lord?
- What is the Royal Marines main amphibious armoured vehicle?
- What weapons do the Royal Marines deploy?
- Who is in charge of 3 Commando Brigade?
- What are the weapons systems on a Type 45 Destroyer?
As you can see they are very varied, if you answer one correctly they will dig deeper until your knowledge dries up, for example once I answered the Type 45 question he asked me what engines does it have? I didn't know the answer and afterwards he suggested I now learn the mechanical elements of the ships. He was a RM Captain and as of such most of his questions were tailored to the Marines, most of which I didn't know. He told me that just because I was joining the Surface Fleet doesn't mean that I should know any less about the other elements of the Navy. Now I have extended my knowledge to the Submarine Service, Marines and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).
Expect the "Can you Kill" question. It doesn't need a long answer, it's a hard question by default and you aren't being judged. If you are joining the RN because you want to be a killer, you should't be. If you need to kill, you should be able to, however. How you word that is up to you, no one can do it for you.
He asked me to wait outside whilst the Royal Navy made their decision (Which made me chuckle inside as he was the only one in the room), fortunately I passed. Suddenly he became my best friend and genuinely wanted to see me do well. I really can't praise this Captain enough, he gave me his number, advice on what I should learn and how I should prepare for the AIB. During the interview it was a very formal enviroment, afterwards it was relaxed. Expect anything however, there are many AFCOs and there are many Sift Interviewers.
Besides learning all you can about the RN manners and how you carry yourself can go a long way. Don't sit down until you are invited to, don't um and arr, if you don't know the answer say "I don't know the answer", they can smell bullshit a mile away. I read that advice here and it served me really well.
[At this stage I bought The Guide to the AIB it's written by a Fireman who served 2 years as a rating, a lot of people will say it's a lot of rubbish. Truth be told it's just trying to make a quick buck off worried candidates but as I have said before, everything helps and there was certainly a couple of bits of good advice in there, and a comprehensive list of possible questions which do get you digging deep for information. I also read History of the Royal Navy and Britains Future Navy to expand my knowledge. The last book was really good, I reccomend it.
I also made Crib sheets of every Ship, Boat and RFA vessel. Here are a couple, some are outdated due to refits. I think it was more helpful to make them than to look at them so you should make your own.]
This is a bit of fun where you and all the other 'locals' who've made it this far get together at the AFCO and have an informal chat with a representative (In our case the same person who conducted my Sift interview). A video is put on which explains the AIB and you all get given an information pack. Some of the information inside it may be outdated, ours was but nothing too serious. There's an oportunity to ask questions and then you are sent on your way.
There was another Warfare Officer candidate at this brief so I said hello and it turns out that not only did we sort of had a very loose connection (Old school form tutors daughters boyfriend) but we had the same date for our AIB. We arranged to travel there together and do a little revision. I reccommend having a chat to anyone that would be in your branch as it would appear they group them together if they can at the AIB.
[At this stage I started less treadmill running and began to practice the Bleep Test which I would do at the AIB, there's an Australian version available on Itunes for around £1 but word on the 'street' is that the bleep test is being replaced by a 2.4km run. The Captain also suggested hill sprints as a great way to prepare. I revised my home made crib sheets, read The Royal Navy Handbook (Slightly outdated now but I hear a new revision is on its way) I once again practiced the reasoning tests as essentially the AIB is all the tests you have already done but condensed into three days + trimmings.]
Admiralty Interview Board
This is rather hefty so I have broken it down into sub headings.
The end of level boss, the AIB. I knew it was coming but you never get the nerves until it's a week away. To be quite honest the accounts found here on RumRation (RR), The Student Room and the like are actually quite accurate.
I got on the train and was soon joined at the next stop by my new friend found at the Pre-AIB brief. This really helped me chill out, I'd imagine other candidates were a bundle of nerves. We got off the train and met another candidate on the ferry and another one when we were at the other side. You're quite easy to spot, on your own, panicking in a suit. We stopped and had lunch at a little cafe just to the left as you get off. (If you go, have a look and see how grotty it was, we were such a mess it didn't even matter). After calming down we got a taxi, there's a bunch waiting for you - they all know where you're going and what they need to do. I think you need to bring your letters as proof otherwise you won't get through the gates.
You sign in in the lobby, put your stuff away and head to the lounge. You'll find a lot of the books you may have already read sitting on the table, such as The Royal Navy Way of Leadership, which was reassuring. Once you know your team, get to know them. There's a peg board to the left of the door as you come in and you can learn who you are with right from the get go. None of the people I had met on the train, ferry or cafe were in my group but I really believe we had the best team there. Everyone was great, An English Teacher, A Diver, a National Trust Ranger and myself. One of the candidates in our group had failed AND passed the AIB, he failed first time and then took it again and passed. He was there a third time to 'beat' his score as the wait was too long for his specialisation, his advice was useful.
The rooms are 'Single Birth Cabins' with a wardrobe and study table. There's a poster explaining the task on day three but it will mean nothing to you until then. There's water available from a fountain on every floor and the showers and toilets are ok. The food at the AIB isn't great in my opinion and it was done by a catering company. You get a little card after meals to give feedback on the food, I think everyone put "excellent" as we were paranoid that every single thing was a test.
Reasoning and Written Tests
The next day, the first real day, was test day. We were up quite early and taken down to the computer room to complete the reasoning tests plus a general naval knowledge test. Very simple and straight forward. Just like the recruit test so there's no use going over it again. The naval knowledge test was very easy, "When was the battle of Trafalgar" "What ship is a Type 23" etc, nothing to worry about.
The essay was just as simple, a nice choice of topics so don't feel there will be something you can't write about. I chose "Is there a role for Photographers in todays Navy". Introduction, For, Against, For, Against, conclusion. I think it went well but all of the results were confidential.
Next up was the sample planning exercise, this was completely useless - you get a sheet with all the information on but you aren't allowed to confer with others or practice discussing as a team. It gets you used to the format but not much else.
Physical Tests and Example Leadership Tasks
You are then taken by bus to a warehouse which is split into two sections, dry and wet. There's a safety brief and you are 'shown the ropes' quite literally. The ratings form a team and show you what you'll be doing come the real test. This was quite fun, afterwards you got to practice with the equipment. Unfortunately for me I ended up at the top of a rope hanging on for about quarter of an hour whilst my team tried to create a bridge. The Bleep test came straight after and I was knackered. Don't exert yourself too much on the fun bit!
The Bleep test, will quickly go over this as I have read a thread here on RR recently where someone is slightly annoyed that they no longer do it. Candidates don a numbered tabbard and line up and run between two points until they can no longer do it. Give it everything. You have a liason guy following you around and you can read their bio's on the board in the lounge, everyone got a super fun happy Chief Petty Officer or something of the like and we had the Marine Sergeant who joined for a £10 bet. Really nice guy but don't cross him, his view was that you should only stop on the bleep test when your legs break and you start being sick in a foetal position on the floor. I accidently called him Sir instead of Sergeant once, he didn't like that. Anyway I think 9.8-10.2 or something of the like was the cut off. A lot went out around there, some made it into high 11's early 12's. One guy cut out on 7, he was the same guy who in his board interview was asked "How long will you stay in the Navy?", to which he replied "Don't know really, probably the minimum 12 if it's good". Dissapointed me that he got this far if I am going to be honest.
At the end of this day we all went down the pub as is the norm, the pub entrance is about 50 metres from the building door yet you have to walk around two miles of fence to get there, very annoying. Lots of Navy personell came over to tell us stories of their times at sea. A group of ratings drove past and covered one of us in fish bones, they must have been saving them for quite some time. After this we went back and got some sleep, the beds are very squishy, I woke up in the middle of the night and due to the red floor which you can't see in the dark had a mini panick attack that I had fallen out of a plane or something.
The next morning was the make it or break it day. Planning task, Personal Leadership Tasks (PLTs) and the Board Interview.
This day is jam packed, running from each test, often having to get changed and shower if you are unlucky enough to fall in the water during the PLT's (Everyone). We had the planning task first so I will elaborate on that:
The planning task is great fun, it's like a minature Role playing / Strategy game, you are given a map and a list of characters and resources. A problem arises and you need to use what you have to complete the mission. You have time to formulate a plan on your own and then you present it to the board. They introduce a problem and you and your team must discuss a solution. Our team worked incredibly well and we had a really positive test in my opinion. That being said, we all forgot we had a plane to use in the scenario which was mutually embarrasing when the board evaluated our plan. Once you've presented it there will be a lovely officer which will destroy every last inch of it. She was incredible, managed to come up with all sorts of stuff we didn't forsee and was so agile with her mental maths it crushed all four of us. Our task was to rescue a team of explorers who fell down a hole, the additional problem was a boat sending out a mayday on the coast. We had to use our resources and prioritize to achieve the best outcome. An example of how our plan was picked apart was that at one point we tried to radio a team in a cave. "Radio's don't work in caves". Simple stuff you don't even think about under pressure. Afterwards you return individually to say if you would still follow the teams plan and what would you change if you could. I went in and told them that I agree with the plan but I would modify it to make use of the plane which we overlooked when we discussed how we would achieve our aims. That's almost all I got to say before the time was up, they want you to be concice. I could also hazard a guess that it's not good to go against your teams plan, that you together discussed, as they want team players not backstabbers! I am almost certain everyone stuck with the plan but also added in the plane, as it was the most logical answer, which did our group credit.
A note on the planning task: A lot of people are worrying about speed, distance and time (SDT), you will need it for the planning task yet it's not critical for your success at the AIB. You'll be told it takes you X hours to walk over Y terrain, the numbers will be small. You may be asked something along the lines of "if it rains, X route takes longer due to mud, how long will it take your team to reach their objective?" You only get a brief moment to answer it before it goes to another candidate. We picked up most of these by spending some time thinking about it and waiting for the question to come back. They don't want you to panic and say a stupid answer, it does happen under pressure and it can be very embarrasing, one of us gave 5 hours as an answer when the correct answer was about 30 seconds or so.
Personal Leadership Tasks
The meat and potatoes of the AIB. You will be taken to the warehouse building where you previously practiced techniques for this task. Our team, in our free time from the previous day, went outside and practiced all of these again just to make sure we knew exactly what we were doing. There are a few fiddly commands you need to learn otherwise things wont get done.
Your group will have 2 wet tasks and 2 dry tasks. On the wet tasks you have to bridge a pool, on the dry ones you just don't touch the floor. You'll have a few minutes inside a small room to sit and plan your own task. You will know what resources you have to use.
Now, a lot of people say that this is the only important element of the AIB. I can safely and honestly report to you that I completely ****ed up my task and I still made it through. I was a good team player, I was confident, I did what I was told when someone else was leading their task and offered suggestions whenever a legitimate idea came to mind. My own leadership task resulted in everyone going for a swim as I miscalcuated the size of the platform in the water from which I wanted my team to build a bridge from, it was too fiddly, too small, everyone fell in and I didn't have a backup plan.
There's not much advice one can write to prepare you for the PLT's, they are exciting, fun and varied and you just can't tell what you will get. You can't really practice either. There's a couple of things you can do though to help your chances:
- Make friends with your team. Good teams win.
- Learn the commands, e.g. when you make a bridge someone must secure it and shout "secure" before anyone can traverse it. If you secure it wrong the staff will tell you to stop and you won't know why. If you do it properly you'll give yourself a ton of time to actually do the task.
- Be... flamboyant. You have to force it but do it if you want it bad enough. Support your team vocally and loud, if you suck "DONT WORRY GUYS, WE CAN DO THIS!", don't be afraid. I think this saved my potential career.
- Don't always try and be the leader, this is a test in itself, when someone else is leading their task you will lose points for being too commanding. Help them the best you can by following their direction.
Once this ends you'll be carted back, soaked, on the bus where you'll have exactly all of five minutes to shower, get changed into a suit and be ready for your board interview. Some skipped the shower but i'm glad I managed to get a hasty one in as it made me feel more comfortable during the interview.
Some say this is the best part, some say it's very relaxed. I disagree, you are sitting on a chair in the middle of the room and you are grilled by the three board members. The interview is split into thirds, one interviewer taking a topic: Your motives for joining, Your examples of leadership and your knowledge of the Naval Service. Here's my advice: Prepare 5 solid leadership examples, the more you give the more they will ask for but the more you can provide the better. I used sports teams, Duke of Edinburugh, Air Cadets, Prefect Duties and a planned walk with friends that went wrong. They love it when things go wrong so you can explain how you rectified the situation for the better. Learn your training pipeline I knew BRNC inside and out but I was clueless what happened after, and that let me down. Learn your whole career path. Be prepared for the question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? Be realistic even if you think you will exceed expectation, there's a difference between confidence and abrasiveness - don't say Commander, you'll more than likely upset the Commander who's assessing you. This question is of course your own to answer but be down to earth and know how long it actually takes to progress in the Naval Service.
I was talking a mile a minute, when they asked me about my communication skills I made a joke, can't remember what I said but it had them all laughing and I think it really helped me. There is a place for humour in the interview but everything in moderation.
Don't worry about the pictures of the ships on the wall, it's all easy stuff but stress makes you say and think strange things. The fellow in our team who had passed previously failed in the end, it's a very sad story. They take your last score rather than your best - he let stress get the better of him. He told us his interview went terribly and he was reffering to the Landing Craft Vehicle Personell (LCVP's) on the side of Albion/Bulwark as Mexiflotes and reffered to the new F35s as Merlin helicopters! Another candidate in my group who, in my opinion, had a brilliant perfomance, came out of the interview and wouldn't speak to any of us. He just stared into space, I have no idea what went on in there. I digress, the point I am trying to make is if you are going to worry, you can worry about something else than the super easy pictures they may or may not have hanging on the wall.
After the Interview
After the interview we all went outside and sat in the sun waiting for our results. I'd say about 50% of the candidates that day passed. From hearing accounts of others it would appear the most common outcomes are:
-Pass with a theorized start date
-Pass, you may get a call
-Offered a job as a rating/ other branch
-Welcome to come back in 6 months
-Welcome to come back in 1 year
-Please don't come back
The AIB is evaluated using a score system, each test is given a score which is compiled and decides the outcome. The pass mark is raised or lowered depending on the needs of the service. If it needs recruits it will lower the bar, if it's over subscribed it will raise the bar. It would appear this causes a lot of controvesy on these forums but it's how it is run nonetheless.
You are welcome to leave once you have your result, you would have already packed your bag in the morning, apprentice style. Everyone said their goodbyes and had a great or depressing journey home depending on their result. I was phoned a few months later with my start date for BRNC and sent to Manchester to complete a final eye test, I could be wrong as there's no documentation on the Royal Navy website for it, but it's possible this was only for Warfare Candidates.
Lantern Colour Vision Test
It's officially called something else, the something-lanteen test. I had to go Manchester, a three hour journey, (One of the two places that provide it in the UK) for a 10 minute test. You sit down facing a mirror and a small box with two LED's shine against it. They can show a combination of red, white. Red, Green. Green, White etc. The woman clicked through 20 or so and I repeated what I saw, and was done. I don't speak highly of this test as the RN paid for my £80 (with railcard) journey to get this done. I spoke to the woman and she said anyone can be trained to carry out the very simple test and the equipment amounts to two lights inside a box. It's not very economical and I think that the Navy should consider providing this test themselves instead.
I believe this test represents ships in the distance and your ability to discern it's mast lights. According to the test provider not many people fail as the eye test done previously in the process finds those who are colourblind. Even so, would be a nightmare to fail after you've come so far!
I've been meaning to write this guide for quite some time and plan on updating with with BRNC info if 'God wills' that I succeed. There's a lot of information and speculation floating around on Rum Ration and I thought it would be good if that were all in one place. I hope people find this useful and enjoy my little dits, all of them true, most of them not very funny. If you have any questions or want me to ammend anything that becomes out of date please post below. I'll add the answers to the thread if they aren't there.
I haven't listed all the books and resources I used to get this far, but will put some useful links at the bottom and a few abbreviations used in the recruitment process. I only subscribed to the Navy News (NN) after my AIB, I really wish I had done so sooner. Their current deployment information is very useful, the RN website is not updated as much as it should be in that regard. (Before reading the NN I bought a giant map for my wall and put a little pin with a note where every ship currently was - current deployments will come up in your AIB Board Interview).
Thanks for taking the time to read this, it's turned out to be quite a long post.
Pinstriped Line Military Blog
Royal Navy in the News
Think Defence Blog
AIB = Admiralty Interview Board
BRNC = Britannia Royal Naval College
NN = Navy News
RR = Rum Ration
PJFT = Pre Joining Fitness Test
PLT = Personal Leadership Task
SDT = Speed, Distance, Time