British Army Recruitment Process – Detailed Step-by-Step Guide

british army recruitment process

The British Army recruitment process is a challenging and competitive one, no matter which career within the Army you wish to go for. To be successful, you will need to pass a number of stages, ranging from tests and assessments to an interview with an Army Development and Selection Officer.

Let’s now go through the British Army recruitment process step by step.

Step 1: Apply Online or Contact your local Armed Forces Careers Officer (AFCO)

This first stage of the British Army recruitment process is very straightforward – you need to let the Army know that you are interested in joining them. Most commonly, this will be done through their official website ( where you can fill out an application or chat to advisers. All the instructions you need will be easily found there, including information on the various roles and careers within the Army.

Otherwise, you can visit your local Army Careers Centre, or discuss your application with them on the phone. You can also ask any questions you may have about the British Army recruitment process. When there, you will also be able to get all the needed information and advice, as well as complete and submit an application form. The application form itself asks you for basic personal details; it will not be dissimilar from ones you have completed in the past.

What you will need to provide:

  • Name and title;
  • Marital status;
  • Your current address;
  • Phone number;
  • Residency info – whether you have the right to live in the UK or Ireland, and how long you have lived in the UK or Ireland;
  • Nationality;
  • Ethnic background;
  • Religion (or lack thereof);
  • Info on tattoos and piercings;
  • Whether you have been under a care order at any point;
  • Employment or education status;
  • Any additional info you believe to be relevant.

Your form will then be looked at by recruiters to see if you meet basic entry requirements. If you do, you’ll then be emailed an online health questionnaire that you’ll need to complete and send back. Army medical questionnaire questions will cover areas such as pre-existing conditions, surgery history and medication use. Of course, you will then be judged on whether you are physically fit enough to proceed. This is done on a case-by-case basis, so if you unsure as to whether you have a disqualifying condition, it is worth having a go.

Step 2: Invitation to an Army Career Centre.

If your medical responses satisfy recruiters, the next step of the British Army recruitment process involves you being invited to your local Army Career. Here, you will receive a 30-minute introduction to the Army, in which the AFCO will present to you the different career paths available within the Army. There are numerous options available here, ranging from Electrician to Rocket System Gunner.

You will then have the chance to have a sit-down meeting with a recruiter, in which you can discuss the options before you for half an hour. During the meeting, you can start to get an idea of which specific career path you’d like to go down. So, it’s perfectly fine to turn up to this meeting if you don’t yet know which role to choose – the purpose of this day is to help you decide.

Step 3: Assessment Stay

Again, if recruiters are still satisfied with you at this stage, and you have chosen a career area, you will be invited to an assessment day at a UK military base. This is the most involved and difficult stage of the British Army recruitment process. Base locations include: Lichfield, Pirbright, Glencorse, and Ballymena. You will be required to stay overnight, and will undertake several physical and mental tests, including a thorough medical examination. The tests may vary depending on which specific Army career path you have chosen.

Let’s now look at the activities that make up the physical side of the army assessment.

The Physical Selection Standards (Recruits) Assessment

Note: The following three physical tests that you will need to undergo are generally consistent across the Army careers, but different ones may require you to reach different levels than described below. Please check with recruiters if you are unsure. Having said this, they are not done on a pass/fail basis. Rather, your performance on each one will be taken into account along with the rest of your results during the assessment stay, and contribute to your overall score.

The Powerbag Lift
In this test, you will have to lift ‘powerbags’ (weights with handles on like a holdall) from the ground up onto a 1.45m platform. The lightest bag you will lift will be 15kg, and after each successful lift the powerbag will increase in weight by 5kg. This will continue up to a maximum weight of 40kg, or until you can no longer lift the powerbag.

The Jerrycan Carry
In this test, you will have to hold a 20 litre jerrycan in each hand and walk for either 150m or until you can go no further. One litre of water weighs one kilogram, so you will have to be able to lift 20kg (plus the equivalent of what the cans weigh) before you go into this test.

The 1.5 Mile Run
In this test, you will be timed running a distance of 1.5 miles, or 2.4 km. This run will be preceded by a warmup lap of half a mile, or 800m.

The Ability Tests

Note: Again, these tests are not assessed on a pass/fail basis; your results for them all will contribute to your overall performance at the assessment stay.

The BARB Test

This is a test you will face on a computer, which is designed to assess your ability to receive and digest information correctly and accurately. It does this through a series of psychometric tests. Your results are calculated not only using the amount of correct answers you got, but by the amount of time you take to do so as well.

See below for some examples of the types of questions you will face.

  • Reasoning Test
    Example: “Richard is taller than Steven. Who is shorter?Answer: Steven
  • The Letter Checking Test
    Example: “How many letters match?”british army recruitment process

    Answer: 2.

  • The Distance Number Test
    Example: “Which number is the furthest from the middle number of the three given?”7 10 14

    Answer: 14

    Explanation: 10 is the middle number. 7 is three numbers away from 10, and 14 is four numbers away from 10. This means the ‘distance number’ is 14, because it is ‘furthest away’ from the middle number.

  • Selecting the Odd One Out
    Example: “Which of the following is the odd one out?”Warm Cold Car
    Answer: Car
  • Symbol Rotation Test
    Example: “Out of the following three sets of symbols, how many can be matched using rotation only?”british army recruitment process

    Answer: 2

    Explanation: You could get box 2 to look like box 1 simply by using clockwise rotation on both F shapes within it. However, if you wanted to get box 3 to match, you would have to use reflection; rotation alone wouldn’t cut it. This leaves the answer ‘2’, as two of the boxes match using rotation alone.

Grenade Throw

This is a practical activity in which you will be taught how to throw a grenade, or at least a dummy one! The exercise will consist of you leopard crawling under some obstacles and launching the grenade when you emerge. This one is largely there to break up the day – you are encouraged to have fun while getting down and muddy while wearing some army gear.

Team Tasks

This section of the assessment stay involves a number of teamwork exercises you will undergo alongside your fellow hopefuls. You will have to complete practical and problem-solving tasks under time constraints, with some of them having a competitive element against other teams.

Of course, the ability to work as a team is vital for a member of the Army, so your performance in this area will be scrutinised heavily. You will need to get involved, taking and giving orders where appropriate to efficiently get a task in front of you completed.

Career Discussion

The final stage of the assessment stay involves another sit-down meeting. Here, you will further discuss your career preferences, and ultimately commit to one of them. It is best to treat this discussion as a formal interview, as you will again be asked questions such as “Why do you want to join the Army?” and “Why do you think you would make a good member of the Army?”

Also, you will be given feedback on your application, focusing on your performance during the assessment stay. This meeting also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and talk about your experiences with the Army so far. At this point, you are nearing the final stage of the British Army recruitment process.

Step 4: Progression to Training

This next step is the final one in the British Army recruitment process – entering phase 1 of basic training! Of course, you will only get this far should recruiters choose to advance you after considering your entire application. All the while, you will be able to contact a recruitment officer with any questions you may have.

You will then be provided with all the information you need concerning your next steps and chosen career path. So, this is where this guide to the recruitment process ends!

For more resources on how to join the army in 2017, follow the link.

For information on our 1-day Army Officer training course, follow the link.

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