“The key to success is to start before you are ready.”
- Marie Forleo
In the previous blog (PART ONE), I summarised the first three steps to joining the police. Well done for reaching this far in your quest to become a police officer! In this post I will outline what the final five obstacles look like and how to navigate them, with particular emphasis on the competitive police interview recruitment process.
Whether you are in the process of your officer application or just preparing ahead, there’s a wealth of more detail and techniques in the full ‘8 Steps to Success’ downloadable guide to help you on your journey. As a reminder here are those steps, grouped into themes of aptitude, physical and administrative:
Step 4: Police (Online?) Interview
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Whether your interview is in the (newly online) assessment centre, in-force, or both, the police recruitment interview assesses your behaviours aligned to the force competencies and values (the CVF). As you might be aware, much of the process has been moved online for 2020 in light of pandemic events.
In summary, the number one strategy for effectively managing your responses in interview is to prepare and practice. This takes time. When you consider that you can anticipate and predict most questions on your interview, it boils down to the time and effort you are prepared to invest in yourself to maximise your potential in a highly competitive process. Our 8 Step Digital Guide has a ready-made bank of specific and relevant support questions you can use to practice and develop your confidence ahead of your interview opportunity.
It also helps to have a mental structure for your responses, to help you convey your evidence and experience. I tend to advise the memorable ‘PAR’: Problem, Action, Result; with most of your attention being on the actions you took.
As with all things, practice makes perfect. And don’t forget: evidence you submitted with your application can also be used in the police recruitment interview!
Step 5: Fitness Test
“The finish line is usually a lot further away than you think."
- Elon Musk
You will have overcome many hurdles testing your aptitude to get to this point. There are however more physical and admin steps to overcome in your ‘8 Steps to Success’. These are more of a pass/fail nature rather than a competitive process against other officer candidates, but are important to be aware of and prepared for. Another you can prepare for is the fitness test.
Police officers must be physically fit to perform the demanding duties required, which you must demonstrate as part of the application process. The police fitness test assesses your fitness to perform the role of a police officer, including your aerobic fitness. Police forces expect candidates to be fit and ready when applying.
Running will be entailed, for example forces in England & Wales and Police Scotland require a minimum of level 5.4 on the multi-stage shuttle run (aka ‘Beep Test’). Police Scotland also offers an alternative of completing a 1.5 mile run within 18 minutes (average is therefore 5 mph). Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have a more demanding multi-stage fitness test; PSNI call theirs a Physical Competence Assessment and provide fitness guidance here, but there is plenty of fitness information elsewhere online or social media. Whatever your chosen force has in store for you, now is always a good time to start preparing, so dig out those trainers!
Step 6: Medical Examination
This may well be wrapped up in your fitness assessment. Medical professionals will assess you, to ensure you are in good health to perform the role of police constable. This is all done in line with the eligibility criteria linked in Part One of this blog.
It is expected that all candidates are already leading a healthy(ish!) lifestyle. Your chosen force will provide more details on the specific medical criteria. Generally a BMI between 18-30 is desirable. You will be required to demonstrate a minimum standard of unaided vision in an eyesight test, which will also include whether you are colour blind. Hearing tests are also involved and the fitness test will assess your general physical condition.
Step 7: Substance Misuse & Drug Testing
This part is very simple. Drug testing is a critical ‘pass or fail’ step in the recruitment selection process, for obvious reasons and as most would expect. These initial drugs screening tests are conducted confidentially, usually by an external organisation to your chosen force. Allowances are made for prescribed medication, so make sure you declare any relevant details.
Note that if successful, random testing then continues throughout your policing career.
Step 8: Vetting Checks
Vetting is a confidential and in-depth process. It includes criminal records checks on you, your family and relations. It also includes an assessment of your financial security to ensure that you are a fit and proper person to hold the office of constable. If vetting checks reveal otherwise, you will not necessarily be told why. It is simply pass or fail.
So, here's a recap and summary of those 8 Steps to Success:
I hope you found this blog helpful, whether you are an aspiring to join the police as a member of the public, leaving the military, a serving Special Constable or PCSO. Download the comprehensive Police Success guide (below) for more detailed guidance, or feel free to arrange some 1-2-1 coaching for bespoke support. The guide includes comprehensive information about the role, CVF, assessment tests, application interviews, practice questions, and much more to help you excel and achieve your ambition to joining the police!
Steve Cooper is a former Royal Marine, Detective Inspector, and is a qualified coach/mentor. With extensive police experience, Steve also established Rank Success to help officers achieve police promotion.