Prepare for NOMS Graduate Scheme Situational Judgement, Online Numerical Test and Interview

Are you applying to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) graduate programme? Competition for places is extremely high, and the process is challenging, designed to assess the varied skills you need in such a difficult role. Prepare for the NOMS graduate scheme recruitment assessments with our resources.
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The NOMS graduate scheme takes on between 10 and 15 new recruits each year to work within the prison service as a prison governor, out of a pool of more than 2,000 candidates. In order to navigate through this field you need to be at your best at each stage from the very start of the process. In this article we will go through each stage with information about how to prepare and create that great impression.

The NOMS graduate scheme application process includes:

Throughout the recruitment process the recruitment team will be assessing you against a set of qualities expected in every NOMS officer. These skills include: resilience, integrity, decisiveness, ability to stay calm under pressure, and the ability to work with a whole range of people.

The NOMS application form is a relatively simple form asking for your personal details alongside a set of security questions. The application form is used at this first stage to determine whether you fit the basic criteria for the role as set out in the job description. Your application form may also be used after the online testing stages to determine which candidates are put forward to the next stage.

The decision to work with NOMS is not an easy one. Before you start to fill in your application form, NOMS suggest you think about your answers to the following questions:

  • Why do you want to work with NOMS?
  • Do you know what the work involves?
  • What is it that attracts you to NOMS?
  • What have you done to prepare yourself for a career in NOMS?
  • Do you truly believe that you have what it takes to manage in the prison environment?

NOMS Situational Judgement Test

The next stage of the recruitment process is an online situational judgement test. In this test you are given a set of situations, usually challenging work experiences and a set of possible actions to take in response. Your task is to choose the most appropriate response for each situation. In order to answer the questions you need to put yourself into a work frame of mind. You can also get an idea of the type of decisions they are looking for from the values and job description in your pack. Taking practice situational judgement tests can also help you get into the frame of thinking a situation through to the best response. Prepare for this test with our situational judgement practice pack.

After this test there may be a delay until all applicants have taken the test before inviting you to the next stage.

NOMS Numerical Reasoning Test

The NOMS numerical reasoning test is provided by CEB’s SHL. This test is designed to examine how well you understand numerical information and can use it to answer questions in your everyday job. Information is given in the form of graphs and tables and you need to perform some basic maths calculations in order to answer the multiple choice questions. You may use a calculator to help you come to your answers, and keep pen and paper handy for working out as you go along. This test is timed, with 25 minutes to answer 18 questions, which can be challenging given the number of calculations needed to answer each question. Taking practice tests is crucial for this test as preparation will help you brush up your maths skills, familiarise you with questions, and make your faster and more accurate. Practice for this test with our specially created SHL-style numerical reasoning test pack.

NOMS Job Simulation Assessment Centre

If you have successfully passed the online test and rank highly enough among all applicants, you are next invited to the NOMS JSAC. This is an all day assessment consisting of four role play simulations. On arrival at the JASC you are given a set of scenarios and 15 minutes to make notes on them. You are given two minutes before the start of each role play to revise the scenario coming up. The role plays are one on one with a trained role play actor. Your role play is watched and marked by an assessor via a camera in the room. Each role play lasts a maximum of 10 minutes.

You are marked against five core prison leader behaviours in each role play:

  • Non-verbal listening skills
  • Suspending judgement
  • Showing understanding
  • Assertion
  • Exploring and clarifying

The scenarios are all prison work based, and you play a prison officer in each one. Examples include: working with your mentor; managing an upset member of staff; dealing with a prisoner carrying a sharp object; handling a prisoner who has not received their methadone; dealing with a prison gang; addressing a visitor who is 10 minutes late for visiting hours; a racist prisoner complaining about another inmate’s family at visiting hours; dealing with an inmate who is threatening to harm themselves. You have to follow proper prison channels in each one.

The role play is designed to see how you work in person. Just as with the situational judgement test you need to put yourself into work mode, and follow the values and job description when responding to each situation. Gather more tips on how to address the role plays on our role play pages.

NOMS Written Assessment and Interview

The final assessment stage is a written exercise and interview. If you have come this far then you are in the final few competing for places.

The written test examines your problem solving, decision making and communication skills. In this test you are given a set of information to read through and told to write a brief or report on what you have read. Prepare for this assessment with our written exercises practice pack.

NOMS Interview

The NOMS Interview is competency based, meaning that you need to provide examples of where you have demonstrated this competency or skill in the past. The aim of these questions is to get a picture of how you will work in the future based on how you have worked in the past. Ahead of the interview, review the skills required of a prison governor and the job description for the NOMS graduate programme. You may find it useful to prepare answers or examples for common interview questions, using the STAR method. Finally a mock interview will help you pull together all your preparation and rehearse presenting your answers in front of an impartial audience. Our Skype based interviews offer that interview simulation along with feedback to help you perform even better in the real thing.

If you are one of the lucky people to have made it to this point the final stages are the medical and fitness tests and security checks.

In Summary

Competition is fierce for a place on the NOMS graduate scheme, with more than 15 applicants to each position most years. Applicants are weeded out at each stage, so it is important that you prepare for each stage as best you can. This article has set out the resources available to help you prepare at each stage. We hope you find them useful!

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