Recruitment and Selection

Recruiting and selecting the right individuals for New Zealand’s Special Operations Forces is crucial. Each element of New Zealand’s Special Operations Forces has a slightly different selection process, but in each case applicants are assessed against the rigorous requirements relevant to each position or role.

Special Operations Command

The Special Operations Command maintains positions in a variety of roles. Vacancies in the Command will be advertised internally within the New Zealand Defence Force (for military and civilian positions) and externally (for civilian positions only) where appropriate and on an as-required basis. Skills and qualities of candidates must meet the individual requirements of the job for which they apply.

NZSAS Selection

New Zealand Special Air Service Operator

The New Zealand Special Air Service looks for individuals who are mentally and physically fit, have a high level of motivation, and who are prepared to undertake selection and employment within the NZSAS as a special personal challenge.

NZSAS Selection is a demanding course designed to identify self-disciplined individuals who are capable of working effectively as part of a small group under stressful conditions for long periods of time. Incredibly high standards are demanded because difficult mental, physical and emotional challenges can be encountered by NZSAS personnel on operations.

The Selection course consists of the following elements:

  • Civilian Pre-Selection. A two-day period where civilian candidates are provided with the necessary military skills to ensure they can operate safely on Selection.
  • Pre-Selection. A two-day period where all candidates undergo New Zealand Defence Force psychological testing and are provided with confirmatory military skill training and insights into Selection requirements.
  • Selection. During this period candidates are rigorously assessed both physically and mentally to determine their aptitude for further training with the NZSAS.
  • Officer Testing. Officer candidates undergo comprehensive testing in written and verbal expression and are assessed on their ability to plan and give verbal orders based on a sound appreciation of a given environment.

There are a number of physical and mental challenges that are conducted within a controlled environment, and by the end of Selection only the most motivated applicants will remain to go on to the next level – the rigorous training needed to become a member of the NZSAS.

NOTE: Completion of Selection does not guarantee that a candidate will move on to the more demanding training phase. That is determined by the Commanding Officer’s Selection Board.

CommandoCommando Selection

Commando Selection, like NZSAS Selection, is a demanding course which assesses the capability of an individual to work as part of a team under stressful conditions, but specifically in the counter-terrorist operational environment.

Candidates for Commando training attempt the same initial Selection course as NZSAS candidates (see above), but the requirement to complete certain stages of Selection is slightly different.

Similarly with the NZSAS process, completion of Commando Selection does not guarantee that a candidate will be accepted for further training. The progression of a candidate is determined by the Commanding Officer’s Selection Board.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operator

The role of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operator is best suited to individuals who are mature, physically fit and highly motivated, and have the ability to solve problems with minimal supervision. An aptitude for mechanics, electronics and chemistry is necessary, as is a willingness to live and work in small teams over an extended period of time.

Prospective candidates are required to pass the Special Operations Forces Induction Course (SOFIC), which covers physical barrier testing, familiarisation with New Zealand’s Special Operations Forces weapons and equipment, and education on the New Zealand Special Air Service ethos and values.

The duration of the course is ten days and consists of the following elements:

  • Physical Testing. This includes completing NZSAS operational fitness requirements to a specified standard, including a Required Fitness Level test, a Battle Efficiency Test, webbing and rifle run, a swimming skills assessment, and a timed pack walk over rural terrain carrying 35 kg.
  • Skill Development and Revision. Candidates are taught the basics of operating in a Special Operations Forces environment, including revising existing weapons and medical skills, learning new weapons systems, and NZSOF vehicle movement and radio operation tactics.

The SOFIC is concerned with ensuring that the 1st New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment employs individuals who are prepared to deploy, survive and win in stressful domestic and expeditionary environments.

Technical and practical skills in EOD environments will be taught through a series of basic courses after the SOFIC has been successfully completed. This initial training includes a three-month probation period to ensure individuals are capable of operating effectively in their chosen trade.

Support Squadron Personnel

1 NZSAS Regt’s Support Squadron is a multi-functional sub-unit comprising individuals employed in 18 different trade groups:

  • Armourer
  • Logistics Officer
  • Communications Officer
  • Maintenance Fitter
  • Communications Systems Operator
  • Medic
  • Doctor
  • Movement Operator
  • Driver
  • Operational Systems Information Specialist
  • Electronics Technician
  • Physical Training Instructor
  • Information Systems Operator
  • Supply Technician
  • Intelligence Officer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Intelligence Operator
  • Vehicle Mechanic

By nature the Regiment is a dynamic unit with shifting needs, and therefore the Support Squadron looks for individuals with the right attitude, who are innovative and agile, and prepared to meet any challenge that comes their way.

Similarly with the EOD Operator applicant, individuals posted to Support Squadron are required to pass the Special Operations Forces Induction Course (see above).

A three-month probation period ensures individuals are capable of operating effectively in their chosen trade. Specific-to-role training is undertaken to ensure the individual has the necessary technical skills to perform their role in a Special Operations Forces environment.

Visit the Defence Careers site for more information on roles currently being recruited for.

This page was last reviewed on 5 August 2015.