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Joining the RFA as a chef apprentice


Hi guys, I want to know how long my process for joining the rfa chef apprentice will take because of the covid-19 situation? Or even if there is a shortage in chefs or anything?
I applied on July 21st and just wanted to know how long it will be as I am really stressing out and any answers will be really helpful and make me less anxious.
Thanks guys

chef ramsay


My application for RFA Apprentice Chef went in on 4th January 2020, Psychometric Test was on the 14th January and interview was on the 17th July. Waiting time for the result of the interview is two to three weeks with a potential start date in 2021.

When I spoken to the RFA recruiting people back in January, it seems to take about a year (give or take) for the whole process depending upon initial application date and start date. Currently interviews are done via Skype due to COVID-19, however, they are usually face to face. COVID restrictions came in after I had done my Psychometric Test so things were changed here slightly as a result to give everyone an equal footing.

Regards and good luck.


Chef Ramsay,

Thanks for the reply. I was really hoping to have a start date for January but I guess not. Is the reason for you having to wait so long for an interview because of sift or the covid situation?

chef ramsay

My understanding is that the application process is done so that they recruit ahead of needs. From what I've seen when looking at the RFA website, they seem to be permanently recruiting for apprentice chefs, or at least recruiting more so then some other (more popular/glamorous) roles. The process takes a while as they only have a maximum of two apprentice chef intakes per year. Also, because it's Civil Service, I know from experience that job applications can take a while. I don't know what it's like for other roles tbh.

COVID did extend the time it took to have an interview, but that was because it took time to set up the infrastructure up for video conference interviews. Also, because they weren't doing the Psychometric tests, there was a slight change to the forms to the post psychometric forms you fill out as I had to redo mine. The delay was a matter of weeks, not months.

It might be worth talking to the recruiting people to see how the process will run for you as far as timescale goes. They are usually pretty helpful. Their direct dial landline will be on the emails they send you. If not, I can send a PM with it. Also, if you do start progressing through the different stages, I'm happy to answer any questions you might have so feel free to PM me with them if you like.


I did get an email saying I will get a call from my afco to get assigned a CA. So when that happens I'll be sure to ask them a few questions.

One last thing that I wanted to know is do you have previous experience in cooking and if not has that affected you badly in anyway? I'm asking this as I am 16 and I haven't had the chance to get any experience but I really do like cooking. Do you think that will affect me or not.

Thanks for your help chef Ramsay.

chef ramsay

I cook for myself so have some experience there, I also managed to get some experience through work years ago too. It helped when it came to answering things about food hygiene, however, you can look that sort of thing up online. They will train you in everything you need to know and how they work so don't worry too much about that.

They also put you through the training for secondary job roles as well so its definitely worth looking at those and the training involved. They are mandatory MCA certificates required to work at sea as is the ENG1 medical.

There are plenty of people that apply for the role as a career change with no experience at all so they expect people will apply with little or no experience to apply. I guess if you can get some relevant experience, it will show people that you have the interest and desire for the role and will put you ahead of other people your age who have not made any effort to research things or get experience. You could always see what the recruiting people say.

What I would say is this, working at sea as a chef is going be totally different to working on land. Think about the working environment. There are waves that make the ship unstable, weather conditions too as you could be going through storm force conditions which affect things as well, not forgetting the fact the ship will change course and speed as well. Think about the fact that if you're in the middle of the Atlantic/Pacific/Indian Ocean, you can't quickly order stuff if you run out of stores and also there's the issue of what to do about rubbish so bear that in mind too. Also think about what it's like living at sea too as you can't escape if you're having a bad day.

Do not let inexperience deter you in any way. As long as you can show that you are keen and interested, that's important too. Think about why you want the RFA Apprentice Chef position as opposed to doing it somewhere else. Try to really explore the RFA website, the job role, other posts here on the forum, other websites etc and think about how/why the RFA is the place to be.

Hope it helps.


I have been researching at the rfa website for quite a while now and I'm pretty sure I have all the answers to those questions. I have been looking at this role for a few months now and I'm sure that this is what I want.

I also know that it isn't an easy job and I won't be able to escape if I have a bad day. Also I know a few things about food hygiene as I cook at home sometimes, so I think I'll be OK in that department.The eng1 I will get when they tell me too.

Thanks for everything chef Ramsay I hope I wasn't a pain.

chef ramsay

No worries.

Just so you know, Food hygiene includes knowing about certain pieces of legislation, signage and allergens amongst other things. It's not simply case of keeping things clean.
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