Promotion time approaching - Interviews

Interviews are awful. I can show what I do through academic work, practicals, uniform etc but not interviews. There are 10 people going through the next step of promotion and although I have been told by other NCOS that promotion is almost guaranteed for me, I am very unsure about the interview and I lack the confidence and ability to even sit still for more than 5 minutes. Therefore, I want to be prepared for whatever is thrown at me and so my questions are:
What should I expect from an interview?
What questions will likely be asked?
How can I distinguish myself from other participants?

First of all - be yourself. Take a glass of water if you can, deep breaths etc. If worse comes to worst and you can’t look someone in the eye, either look at the bridge of their nose or look at the wall behind.

As I said before, be yourself. Don’t put on a show and your staff will recognise that. Say things how they are whilst being polite, showcase yourself and make sure your dress is on point.

Good luck :slight_smile:

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We dabbled with interviewing for cadet NCOs a few years ago, but as we knew who we wanted to promote on the merit process it was a pointless exercise, not one of the interviews threw up any surprises. It put kids who had more important things to worry about under unnecessary and unwanted pressure.
If your CO wants to promote you he/she will regardless of the faux outcome of the interview. If they don’t, then you weren’t meant to be promoted.

Very helpful advice for someone who’s OC clearly has decided he wants to run interviews, and may well take something from them.

For the OP, I’d suggest thinking about what you would bring the the squadron as an NCO, including how you’d do it (and the key thing, if you get promoted, actually do what you say you will!)


offering my 2p worth - and based specifically on the quoted question.

consider your F3822.
What is in there that the rest of the Cadets don’t?
you may have been a Cadet for 12months but achieved more than someone who has been in 2.5years!

What experiences do you have, be it camps, courses, training, have you taken part in which shows you are an active member?
And from this how is that knowledge of those experiences useful.

for example: Have attended a First aid course, fired the No8 on 3x occasions and attended last years annual camp.
With this you can explain what it is like to live on a RAF Station and what to expect from a week away to those Cadets who are yet to experience this. You have knowledge of a training course, which although specific to first aid offers an idea of what to expect from a radio, NCO or MOI or other Sector/Wing run course. and you have experienced shooting which helps explain with first hand experience what to expect from the training and range time.

this might not be much, but as promotion to Cpl I would not be expecting CWO levels of experiences.

(disclaimer: having a full and varied F3822 doesn’t make anyone a good candidate for promotion. it also takes maturity (to handle authority), trust to understand responsibility which when combined with experience makes for a good role model.)

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But having that full and varied 3822, having done parades, collecting, local events, “camps” et al will mean that the cadet have put themselves out for the squadron and in doing so absorbed and been exposed to many things that builds confidence and will give them responsibility.
Many’s the time we have cadets (non cadet NCOs) at public events who in lieu or support of NCOs present are given things to do, on the job training if you like. From the way they handle these as they go along, if you are taking proper notice you can see the potential for promotion.

I attend 99% of events and see the cadets in action and see how they interact with joe public and complete the tasks given first hand. I can then observe at the squadron and see how they put this experience into practice. TBH you can do all the courses under the sun but unless you have full on opportunities to put them into practice and pass on any learnings it’s been a waste of time.

The problem you can face like in any interview, someone out performs others in the interview, do you go with them or someone not so eloquent? We’ve had a few errors at work, which have soon been sorted, but not before having the nuisance factor disrupting things.

The trick is to first answer the question asked and help the cadet, then wait BEFORE launching into a digression on the pros and cons of the general concept and the associated ills of society!


i don’t disagree…but that isn’t a golden ticket to promotion which is my point.
some Cadets aren’t suitable for promotion at 14 despite a full F3822, while others are due to a different level of maturity and trust that can be put in them

I would sooner promote someone who does things over someone who might look the real deal despite being inactive. I have promoted the more active over the less active and the less active moans and gets slice of this is how it is. If they take the hint and don’t go around in sulk, next time round they will get it.

If you’ve got two, one who might still need a bit longer and the other not, who are equally active, then yes I see where you are coming from. But, I wouldn’t need an interview to make the decision.

in all my time and the 7x Squadrons I have been on I have only ever experience 1x occasion when interviews were conducted and only proved what we knew.

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And this is the point, any staff on their game don’t need to interview cadets for promotions.

Even CWO the interview is just a box to tick. If a cadet gets to a CWO interview and gets turned down, you’d have to wonder.

Never been a fan of interviews but…

Consider three things that you could do as an NCO for the Squadron. When asked why you should be promoted (I would lay money on that question coming up) then say you have several ideas and list them. Write your ideas down on a piece of paper and take it with you.

Have you asked what the interview will cover? its not an unreasonable question before the day.

NCO’s are there to help so try and get that across to the panel, tell them what they will want to hear about how much more you can do as an NCO and how that will help the Squadron. Mention teamwork as that is critical to be an NCO. Be respectful, smart and polite.

Other than that, I would agree with most things that have been said so far.

Good luck!

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They just tell you there will be interviews and have fun with seeing you struggle. It’s not just me, my best mate is also going for promotion and him and I were talking about what may come up and therefore we asked around. Mentions such as ATC & RAF history, knowledge of sectors, wings, regions and who is in charge, the rank structure (not just within squadron) - However, I asked this to friends at other squadrons and they said otherwise that actually they talk more about you and your interests. I genuinely do not know what to do so I’m kinda just studying up.

Sorry to burst your bubble here but nobody is there to have fun seeing you struggle! That’s a very childish outlook and as an OC if I heard you make it I would doubt your suitability for promotion.
the ATC has an aim to provide training useful in both service and civilian life…
So use this interview as a rehearsal for the up coming big bad world where you will be required to go for interviews for things such as college, university and jobs, nobody is going to just give you anything for nothing even the benefits people will interview you!
So learn from this interview, start getting used to it and then when it really counts and you are being interviewed you will be much more comfortable and confident


I think that is a big harsh, there are staff that deliberately give cadets a hard time when interviewing. When asked why they will tell you its to prepare you for the big bad world but I would question their real motives and whether they are representing the big bad world correctly. The other issue with this is that interviews in the big bad world happen when you’re older so save it for then.

revlis… I would say you are doing as much as you can. Unfortunately there is no standards for this and so you can only go on what you have been told. Other Squadron’s will do things differently so go with what you know, at the end of the day, relearning about ATC / RAF etc is going to do you know harm.

I apologise if I seem childish but its true, they want to see you struggle to see if you really want it. Know why they doing that? There are 3 spaces and 10 people applying, cadets that have only been in for 6 months, but of course as an OC you could argue that if a cadet works for it, then they are granted to apply so. But do you want to see a 13-year-old’s confidence being abolished just because OC’s get their hopes up? I strongly disagree that someone in the corps that has been in for half a year has the potential knowledge of the context needed (such as the history of RAF, ATC, wing personnel). Sustainability you mean? I could argue otherwise, yes cadets seems like this perfect place to train you for the real world, which don’t get me wrong, it does, without it most my friends at ATC, who are sgt and cwo’s would not have any qualifications apart from GCSEs and some, not even that.
“rehearsal”? Perhaps you don’t acknowledge the importance that cadets have in some lives. I work 2 jobs and go to school so yeah i do consider myself in the real world, however, the reason why this interview matters to me and to others is that most of us want to join the RAF afterward and want to fulfil our goals in the ATC as a mirror to what it could be like.

Thank you and I do appreciate it, I do enjoy cadets and that is why I’m putting the effort in. All I wanted was to gather as much information to have a successful outcome.

This does seem like a way of COs shirking a responsibility to really know their cadets and what they are capable of. When I was a cadet, staff were asked who do think is ready for promotion, names mentioned and discussed, if you were one of them considered ready you were called into the CO, he then asked you if you wanted to be a Cpl/Sgt/FS, outlined his expectations, asked are you still happy to be promoted, yes/no. If yes congratulations you will be formally promoted at final parade. If no, I was told, you were asked why and it was left there. It didn’t mean you weren’t asked again. This is the system I saw on different squadrons and what I used as a CO and has been used since.

I’m not really sure this would prepare you for an RAF interview more than it would any other interview. A bit like the ATC doesn’t prepare you specifically for the RAF more than any other job. The plethora of ‘soft skills’ and opportunities to show you can be responsible far outweigh any of ATC’s qualifications in the job market. The best ‘qualification’ you can get through the ATC is DofE, which of course has nothing to do with the ATC.

If they are doing this then as mentioned by ex-everything you should be told what you are likely to be asked. One of the problems is the structures, who does what etc isn’t published anywhere as a standard. It even takes digging around in the crevices of the RAF’s website to find things.

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