For candidates applying to become as Officer within the Australian Defence Force, the Officer Selection Board (OSB) is the final step in the recruitment process. Everything that you have done up to the time of the OSB has provided defence with a basic understanding of your potential through how you present yourself in the present and what you have done in the past. This has given ADF recruitment enough confidence in your potential to put you forward for the real test. The objective of the OSB is to identify candidates that have the confidence, problem solving abilities and ability to be effective in challenging or difficult situations.

To be clear, you are not expected to have specific military leadership skills. What they are looking for is leadership potential and a willingness to learn as the specific skills can be taught and developed during training.

Before we discuss the activities that you will be required to participate in during the OSB, here are some points to consider:

  1. You can expect that topics or situations may throw you off your game during the OSB. It is not uncommon for situations to be turned around on you to put you in an uncomfortable situation to see how you react. If you hadn’t thought ahead of other potential scenarios and are unsure of what to do, remember to remain calm and reassess the situation, after all that’s what you are there for.
  2. Remember you are apart of the team. In order to maximise effectiveness be sure to ulitise all of your resources. Failing to do so makes you ineffective as a leader.
  3. During scenarios, let them visibly see you step back and access the situation as a whole. Don’t be the guy who’s meant to be in charge and is doing all the work and doesn’t know what’s going on whilst everyone stands around watching him. Seek input from others, delegate tasks and direct in a respectful way.
  4. Assessment day is to filter to reasonable applicants from the unreasonable ones. Although they will ask some fundamental/basic questions, expect that they will assume you know all the facts and the questions will be about how you apply the theory to real world scenarios.
  5. Enjoy working with others, teamwork is essential.
  6. The most important aspects of each task is not whether you completed it successfully or not; it’s how you approached it. That should be what you are most concerned with too.
  7. Showcase yourself in a positive light at all times. Sell yourself.

The following list of activities are for a general guidance of what to expect. Activities and can and will change over time and vary between the different services, however the general principles around the type of person they are looking for will remain the same. You should run through and practice the following activities several times in order to be comfortable with them. Do not be to focused on perfecting these exact activities but instead use them to improve your ability to communicate and process information effectively.

  1. 2-3 Minute speech about you:
  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • What motivates you
  • Why you want to join?
  • Always talk about strength and do not speak negatively about yourself or others
  1. Tactical Decision Exercise (TDE) Essay. Given 20-30 minutes to access a situation and write a short essay on how you would solve the problem. Your task is to not only be logical in your approach but to effectively communicate your solution. Practice TDE with the following examples: ejmas, Marine Corps Gazette (best source), Tactical thinking.
  2. Have an open discussion on individual approaches on the TDE and then present the groups approach to the board. Take this opportunity to be confident and articulate your point. Do not be afraid to offer a different opinion or agree that another candidate had a better solution for some or all of the TDE.
  3. Group discussion about a topic of groups choice. The topic the candidates decide upon is irrelevant, what is important is your ability to articulate your point. Join the discussion, but do not argue. Listen to the points that other people raise, include everyone and encourage others to voice their opinion.
  4. Given 1 minute to come up with a 3-minute speech (individual). Here you can talk about anything from your favourite music to Santa Claus. Think about structuring your speech with a basic beginning, middle and end. Again, this is about demonstrating effective communication without prior preparation. Lead by example and volunteer to go first!
  5. Outdoor Activities – number of problems the group must solve together. Remember to step back and access each situation. Ask others who are pushed to the side for their input and what they think; get everyone involved. DO NOT stand handling equipment and get distracted in the task to the point that others are standing around doing nothing, you have then failed to utilise your team and be an effective leader.
  6. Fitness Test – Ensure you are prepared, not completing the minimum requirements in front of the selection board is not a good way to impress. To prepare for the fitness test check out the ADF Fitness exercise programs.
  7. Final Interview – At this stage the selection board have largely made up their mind, be yourself and speak truthfully.

The Defence Force Recruitment process up to the Officer Selection Board has been to separate the suitable candidates from the unsuitable ones. The OSB will look to showcase the talents of those who has the confidence and ability to stand out from their peers and complete tasks within time-frames. If you are attending an OSB for any of the three services (Army, Airforce or Navy) remember that preparation is key.

Should you require more assistance with preparation and physical readiness:


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