So my first post with a bit of meaning…
How did I get here?
Starting into a career can be long and drawn out or it can be a snap decision. Joining the Royal Fleet Auxiliary for myself was definitely a snap decision. I was set on attending University after doing my A levels, which I was 2/3rds of the way through, and doing science; this would end up with me working in labs for eternity. But my first choice of University turned me down for the course I had applied for so I needed another option.
Being from Derby means that the RFA is something you never hear about and I was no different, it was only by chance I came across the Fleet’s existence on the Royal Navy website. This was back in September of 2016, just after starting Sixth Form, and something that was put to the back of my mind. Fast forward 1.5 years and a month after applying (there was a bit of a delay in processing my application) it’s time for the recruitment test.
My application was made on March 19th 2018, by the first week of April it was time to sit the first stage of what becomes a nice long journey in the end.
This test is exaclty the same as the Royal Navy and is held with RN and RM (Royal Marine) candidates at your local AFCO (Armed Forces careers office). My best advice for revising for the recruitment test at this stage is to revise GCSE level maths around topics like addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. For the mechanical comprehension it’s best to revise basic concepts like levers and moments etc. For the English and abstract reasoning (as well as the maths and mechanics) the Royal Navy Test guide and the Royal Navy website are fantastic. There are recommended time limits for both resources, USE THEM!
You won’t be given your results at the AFCO because they are sent straight to RFA HQ for them to process, the Navy just facilitate the test. I rang up for my results because the guy at the AFCO had no idea of time span, you may get sent a letter.
Personally looking back on the RT it was relatively easy but leading up to it I was terrified and when I rang up to get my result I was very relieved when they said I had passed!
All the information I had for this pointed to a meeting at Portsmouth, don’t be shocked if Manchester suddenly pops up like it did for me, the interview is exactly the same (and it’s slightly easier because you don’t need to mess around at the gates to go to the Manchester AFCO, as there aren’t any unlike Portsmouth).
Leading up to the Sift I did as much research in the following areas:
- Ship classes of the RFA
- Names of RFA ships
- Current locations of all RFA ships (twitter is useful)
- What the role of the currently deployed/working RFA ships is
- Recognising classes of ship
- Brief history of the RFA
- Who’s the current Commodore RFA
- Rank Structure of the RFA
- Jobs of your role, ie Marine Engineering Officer jobs when on ship
- Pipeline of training including what’s after interview, what’s after AIB and what’s going to happen at nautical college including which ones you may attend
Some places on twitter to go are, @RFAheadquarters @CdreDuncanLamb @RfaNostaglia @sandpilot @thinkdefence @navylookout @pinstripedline and all of the growing number of RFA ships on Twitter (appearing only over the last 2 months!!) Keep a look out for RFA employees interacting with posts too.
Contradictory to most people, Wikipedia is very useful for all of this with the breakdown of the classes and the good quality images of the ship. The RFA briefs on the RN website are helpful for job roles and brief overviews of training pipelines.
Thankfully the RFA will reimburse expenditures for travel, although as it would happen the journey to Manchester was not only short but cheap compared to Portsmouth. The attire for the interview, as you’d expect, is full suit and tie; the same as the Recruitment Test.
Upon arriving at the Manchester AFCO I was greeted by someone from the Army who checked my identity and then called the RFA recruitment Officer through from the back. You need a passport for entry into the RFA, if you can get it before the Sift it’ll save time and postage later. The Officer arrived and called me through into a small interview room.
Then the questions started. Normal interview questions and some stuff specifically about the RFA. It’s not good enough knowing the deployments but also why they’re happening. You also don’t need to know much about crew sizes and nothing on the propulsion plants etc. When the interview is over it’s your turn to ask questions, think of some before you go, maybe even some that ask about future parts of the recruitment process or training. Then you’re left for 20 minutes while the decision is made. Once that’s decided, if you’ve passed, you’ll sort out the AIB date there and then, it’s then just a case of getting home!
Next will be some stuff about the AIB, it’s changed recently, but until then thanks for reading!
*Image is crown copyright*