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Self Presentation

Appearance is everything

While the Army goes to great effort to promote itself as a modern 21st century employer, the truth is that it continues to be an extremely archaic organisation, embroiled with historical traditions and attitudes. The one area in which this factor is most enduring is that of how an Army Officer should present himself/herself. Yes, as fickle as it may sound the first thing you will be judged from the moment you walk through the front gate at Westbury is your appearance. Those tasked with assessing your suitability for the Army will form an opinion of you within 30 seconds of you walking through the door. No matter how firm your handshake or how wide your grin, this opinion will not be based on the content of your character, leadership, confidence or enthusiasm but solely on your physical appearance.

But of course, you already know this. Right?

By now you will probably have realised that the AOSB process is simply glorified a job interview. You wouldn’t turn up to any other interview having not given some thought to how you will present yourself and it is essential that you get this right to avoid being turned away at the first hurdle. These pages will give you some straight advice on how to avoid falling foul of the Army Officer fashion conundrum.  To the majority of readers this advice may seem obvious; however, you would be surprised as to the number of candidates who turn up at AOSB looking like Russell Brand at a fashion contest. While the majority of you will already have a good idea of how to present yourself, there are some certain peculiarities in the Army that it may be useful for you to be aware of.

Making an Impression

When attending the initial interview and selection boards you will be instructed to turn up wearing a standard lounge suit. At this stage of the application my advice would be to do exactly this and avoid wearing anything too unique. You are likely to be told to ‘relax’ and to ‘be yourself’ at various stages throughout the application process. Be under no illusion – this is a test. I have seen people turn up for Army interviews wearing all sorts of eccentric and charismatic outfits, and more often than not, it creates the wrong impression. As I explained earlier, the army is a VERY traditional organisation. Your ambition to be part of it will depend on your ability to fit in and as much as you may not like to hear this, you will need to conform to the ‘norm’. With this in mind and to give yourself the best possible start from the beginning I would encourage you go for a safe option.

The following sections will give you some general fashion advice as to the type of suit you should be looking for. I will also consider the type of shirt, accessories and shoes you should be wearing (yes - there are unwritten rules for these too) to you get through the door and make that all important first impression a good one.

Click on the links below to find out more...