College of Policing - Police Officers

Police officers' roles depend on the force you apply to and whether you choose to specialise in a specific field after your training. The recruitment process for police officers reflects the importance of the role, as it challenges not only your physical fitness but also your people skills and reasoning ability.


The College of Policing Police Constables Application Process

The first step in the application process is to fill out an application form. Afterwards, the force you have applied to will check your eligibility and mark your responses to competency questions (if these are used by the force). If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend an assessment centre. If you pass the assessment centre, you will then take a fitness test. Next, your references will be checked, and, finally, you will undergo background, security, medical, and eyesight checks.


Police SEARCH® Assessment Centre

If you wish to join the Police Service of England and Wales as a police constable, you must be successful in a number of recruitment stages, one of which is the Police SEARCH® Recruit Assessment Centre.

At the College of Policing's Police SEARCH® Recruit Assessment Centre, assessors evaluate your performance in exercises which relate to specific competency areas relevant to the role. Information from all the exercises are used to produce the final results. There are four types of assessment exercises:

  • A competency-based structured interview with four questions, lasting 20 minutes in total
  • A numerical ability test lasting 23 minutes
  • A verbal ability test lasting 30 minutes
  • Four interactive exercises lasting 10 minutes each

All candidates must also demonstrate competency in written communication. Forces can choose from a number of ways to assess written communication:

  • Candidates may be required to sit two written exercises either in advance of or as part of their assessment centre. Each written exercise lasts for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Candidates may be required to have, or obtain, a qualification in written English. Forces can choose the level of qualification required. However, this must be equivalent to a minimum of Functional Skills Level 2 English. 

The force you are applying to will let you know which method they have chosen to assess your written communication.   All candidates undertake the same exercises and are assessed on an equal basis. The assessment centre lasts approximately half a day.


Interview

The interview is a competency-based structured interview. You are asked four questions in a time frame of 20 minutes, giving you five minutes per question. If you go over five minutes, the person interviewing you will stop you. Two of the questions are about your motivations and values and how these relate to the Police Service. The other two are about how you have dealt with specific situations in the past.

Each of the four questions is related to the competency areas relevant to the role of police constable. Interviewers may ask you additional questions to help prompt you to give a full response. When you consider your responses to the interview questions, please only choose examples that you feel comfortable discussing with the person interviewing you. The person who interviews you will assess your responses against the type of behaviours you need to perform effectively in the role. During the interview, your oral communication is assessed. The following competencies are assessed throughout the interview:

  • Decision-Making
  • Service Delivery
  • Serving the Public
  • Professionalism
  • Openness to Change
  • Working with Others

The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice your answers in advance. You can do so in front of the mirror or with a friend, but the best practice is a mock interview which will provide feedback and suggestions for improving your interview technique. JobTestPrep's interview preparation can help you do just that.


Numerical Ability Test

The numerical ability test consists of multiple-choice questions which measure your ability to use numbers, to correctly identify logical relationships between numbers, and to draw conclusions. You will be required to use the following numerical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, averages (mean), percentages, rations, and interpretation of numbers represented graphically. You are allowed to use a calculator, which will be provided to you on the day of the exam. The test is 23 minutes long and contains 21 questions.

The format of the test might be unfamiliar to you, and the test may ask questions in a way you haven't come across before. Taking practice tests ahead of the assessment day will allow you to become more familiarised with the actual test, enabling you to answer questions quicker and more accurately.

JobTestPrep's tailored police SEARCH practice pack offers numerical reasoning practice and video tutorials to help you prepare.


Verbal Ability Test

The verbal ability test consists of multiple-choice questions which measure your ability to make sense of a situation when you are given specific written information about it. You have 30 minutes to answer 28 questions. The test is split into two sections.

Section A presents three possible answers based on the information in a passage, with only one correct answer. The choices are true, false, or impossible to say.

In section B, you are asked to choose which of four given statements is the best answer based on the information provided.

Practising for the test ahead of the assessment centre can benefit you in a number of ways, including increasing your confidence, sharpening your skills, and improving your score.


Interactive Exercises

The assessment centre includes four interactive exercises split into two five-minute parts. The first part is the preparation phase and the second is the activity phase, where you will meet a role actor. During the preparation phase, you will be given written information relevant to the exercise you will carry out. You will be given a desk or room where you will have five minutes to study the information and prepare for the activity phase. You may take notes and refer to them during the activity phase. During the activity phase, you will play the role that was set up for you.


Written Exercises

The written skills tested at the assessment centre are your ability to comprehend and summarise information accurately, structure responses logically, and use spelling and grammar correctly. You will be asked to complete two written exercises, lasting 30 minutes each.

For the first written exercise, you will be asked to read candidate preparation material which contains information from a number of sources in relation to an incident that occurred at the Westshire Centre. This information will be used to complete an incident report form. You will need to identify the relevant information from the candidate preparation material and use this to accurately fill in details relating to the incident. You will also need to write a short summary of the incident based on the information that has been provided.

For the second written exercise, you will be shown a DVD of a person being interviewed about an incident that they have witnessed at the Westshire Centre. The DVD will last for approximately seven minutes, during which you will need to take notes. Make sure to write down all the information you feel is relevant to the incident, as you will use your notes to complete an incident report form. You will have 20 minutes to fill in the incident report form.


Prepare for College of Policing Police Constables Tests

The College of Policing recruitment process for Police Officers tests not only your physical fitness, but also your cognitive abilities against a set of competencies. These abilities are examined through interactive exercises, written exercises, interviews, and numerical and verbal tests.

To ensure you are a successful candidate, it is important to practise for each exercise. JobTestPrep provides the information and practice materials you need for each stage of the recruitment process.