The Admiralty Interview Board
) is the instrument of Officer
selection for the Royal Navy
, Royal Marines
, Royal Naval Reserve
, Royal Marines Reserve
, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary
. It is based at HMS Sultan
Those interested in pursuing a career in the Naval services will typically do so by walking into their local Armed Forces Careers Information Office
. These offices, staffed by serving members of the armed forces, are to be found in most reasonably-sized towns in the UK. Here, the prospective candidate will be able to obtain literature and film material, and to discuss their potential career with the office staff. If the prospective candidate remains interested, he or she will be invited to complete a preliminary interest form, supplying basic personal details. Those unable or unwilling to visit a Careers Office can apply over the internet to have this preliminary interest form, with appropriate literature, sent to them for completion.
The AIB is a three day course consisting of many different academic, physical, mental and aptitude tests. It is designed to put the candidates under pressure whilst fostering their team spirit and competitiveness. Passing the AIB is an essential requirement for acceptance into officer training for the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. However Royal Marine candidates must also pass the Potential Officers' Course
at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines
(CTCRM) at Lympstone
and Aircrew candidates will have taken Flying Aptitude Tests
at RAF Cranwell
prior to attending the AIB.
On arrival, candidates are allotted to their individual Board, presided over by a Board President (a Captain) who is assisted by Commander, and a Lieutenant (or their Royal Marine equivalents). There will up to three Boards running concurrently, each with four candidates. Each Board is assigned a senior rating or senior NCO who is responsible for the Board's welfare and for briefing the Board on the various tasks. Candidates will remain with their team-mates throughout the selection process, making it common for strong friendships to develop over the course of the AIB.
Candidates arrive at HMS Sultan in the late afternoon/early evening, reporting at the AIB complex. Here they are shown to their rooms (known as 'cabins') and are briefed on domestic arrangements. After settling in, a full collective briefing is given by one of the AIB's senior ratings, outlining the procedures and itinerary of the next two days. Dinner is then served and the rest of the evening is set aside to enable team-mates to socialise. Candidates are strongly advised to visit the pub, as it enables the candidates to get to know each other better, something that will come in useful for the subsequent team work tasks.
Day two is known as the "Testing day". It starts off early in the morning with a series of written aptitude tests, intended to give the Board an indication of the candidate's intellectual and practical abilities. Amongst the areas explored are verbal and non-verbal reasoning, numerical ability, speed and accuracy, spatial orientation, and service knowledge. After these are completed, candidates are given 45 minutes to write an essay on a subject chosen from a prescribed list, as an assessment of written powers of communication.
Upon completion of these tests, around lunchtime, the candidates are presented with a sample Planning Exercise, a significantly simpler version of the exercise that they will complete on Day 3. After being briefed on this they are conducted to the gymnasium. Here they are given a further briefing on the Practical Leadership Tasks which they will also face on Day 3, covering techniques, basic familiarisation with equipment, and health and safety issues.
As the final event of the day, candidates are tested as to their level of fitness. This is assessed by means of the Multi-Stage Fitness Assessment. This is not a pass or fail test, Candidates are being tested on their motivation, which is compared to the expected level a candidate of a certain age and sex should attain. Upon completion of this test the candidates are free for the evening.
Day three is the day on which candidates will meet the Board President and his colleagues for the first time. They will be observing the candidates and their conduct throughout the day's tasks.
The day begins with the Practical Leadership Task. Returning to the gymnasium, the candidates will be presented with a variety of scenarios, involving, amongst other things, the bridging of imaginary chasms with supplied poles and ropes, accompanied by an awkward object or burden. The first Task is a group task, with no designated leader. Following this, each candidate will take it in turns to be leader, the remainder of the candidates operating under his or her control.
After this is completed, the candidates embark on the Planning Exercise. This involves a considerably more complicated scenario than that seen on Day 2. Candidates are given a short period to study the scenario, a problem is then introduced which must be overcome. Candidates discuss possible courses of action as a group, presenting a group plan to the Board. Each candidate is then rigorously questioned on the scenario and the group plan. After this, each candidate presents an individual plan arrived at on their own, which may or may not be the same as the group plan, depending on the flaws that the questioning turned up.
The final task is the Interview. Here, over a period of thirty minutes, candidates are interviewed about their past achievements, experiences of difficulty overcome, and examined as to their motivations in joining the Services.
Formerly the Board staff would report to the Board President on the social conduct of each candidate during their time there, although it is thought that this no longer takes place.
Upon the conclusion of the interviews, after a brief lunch-break, candidates are individually brought before their Board President and informed as to whether they have passed or failed. As candidates are assessed against a standard and not against each other's performance (there are no set quotas for acceptance - if you meet the standard you pass), it is often found that strong teams will see all members meet the standard. Successful candidates then attend the Central Air and Admiralty Medical Board (CAAMB) for medical clearance, those rejected are free to leave.
Those selected by the Board are placed onto a final board list, the top scoring candidates for the number of places at each intake begin basic officer training at the Britannia Royal Naval College
, their pass remains valid for a year, after which if they had not been selected for an intake up to that point, they have the option to return to the AIB to attempt a better pass. Unlike the parallel system in the United States Navy
, there are no alternative methods of entry; every prospective officer must pass the selection board and attend the College.