CHAPLAIN candidates for the Royal Navy are to be interviewed differently from regular naval-officer applicants for the first time from September.
Candidates will take part in a modified version of the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB) that is tailored more towards members of the clergy. Currently, prospective chaplains take part in the same AIB as regular applicants, evaluating them on the same competencies.
The Chaplain Recruiter for the Royal Navy, the Revd Martin Evans, said earlier this month: “The new test will be looking for what makes a good padre rather than for the gifts and skills of regular officers.”
One example is that the leadership task would become a collaborative task, which Mr Evans called a “more appropriate way for a chaplain to behave”.
He said: “This is an impressive thing for the Navy to recognise, and to change this historic process. They put their complete trust in this.”
The first candidates will take part in the new interview process in September. Mr Evans explained: “One of the applicants has been on the previous AIB, and did not do very well; so the proof will be in the pudding, so to speak. It won’t be any easier, but I am hoping all four succeed.
“It is providing a fair platform on which they can evaluate clergy. It is not for every member of clergy: it is a very challenging post. We need them to be robust enough to cope at sea — there needs to be a good level of fitness, as well.”
One reason for the change is a dearth of younger applicants for naval chaplaincies, which Mr Evans is seeking to change. “Once people are ordained and serve their curacy, they become very settled, quite often with a young family; so it is difficult to get them to apply. It is an awful lot to ask a young family man or woman to uproot.
“The answer is to get hold of them at theological college or in training. . . We have a marvellous selling-point in that we do it all.”
Mr Evans, in a 20-year career in the Royal Navy, has served at sea, on ships including HMS Ocean and HMS Ark Royal, at airbases including RNAS Yeovilton, and with the Royal Marines.
One advantage of the Naval Chaplaincy Service, Mr Evans said, is that “when we get people in, they tend to stay.”