Police Scotland Special Constable Interview and SET Test Preparation

Have you applied to join Police Scotland as a Special Constable? The selection process for Special Constables has been revised following the creation of Police Scotland in April 2013, and now follows a similar format to the recruitment process for Police Officers. In this article we will take you through this process stage by stage, with tips and guidance to help you through.
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Special Constables are volunteers who work alongside regular Police Officers, and have similar powers to them. Special Constables come from all areas of life in Scotland. They have similar eligibility criteria to the Police Officers. Special Constables are fully trained, and have to have a fitness level equal to Police Officers. The recruitment process is designed to ensure that Special Constables in Scotland have the qualities required for such an important job. In this article we include practice for the Standard Entrance Test (or SET).

The revised selection process is as follows:

Application Form

The first step towards becoming a Special Constable is completing the application and vetting forms. The application form is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the recruitment team, so make sure you take advantage of the form. You need to fill in the whole form, and ensure that you do your best- so take your time planning what you will write. The vetting form requires you to list your convictions, warnings or cautions, and those of any close family members and friends. As well as the usual information about you, your education, qualifications and work experience, the application form contains several competency based questions.

Application form questions:

  • Police Officers often rely on team working during their everyday activities. Think of a situation where you had to work as part of a team to solve a problem or to achieve a goal. Describe the situation. How did you contribute to the team in this situation? What was the result and what did you learn?
  • It is vitally important in Scotland’s diverse society that Police Officers have respect for all. Think of an example when you have shown respect for lifestyle, culture or beliefs of someone even though they differed significantly from your own. Describe the situation and how you and the other person(s) differed. Which aspect of the difference did you find the most difficult to deal with? Tell us what you did to show respect. What was the outcome of the situation?
  • It is important that Police Officers can demonstrate initiative and are well motivated to get things done without being told. Tell us about a time when you used your initiative to complete a difficult task even though it might not have been your job to do so. What was the situation and what motivated you to complete the task? Describe what you did and what skills you used. What was the outcome and how did other people react?
  • Police Officers often need to draw upon a wide range of experiences to carry out their job. In this part of the form you have the opportunity to inform us of any activities undertaken in your leisure time. Tell us about your hobbies and interests. Explain how these activities might relate to the role of a Police Officer. What experience do you think you can bring which would be relevant to the role of Police Officer.
  • Why do you want to pursue a career in the Police Service?
  • Please tell us about any other skills you have and any voluntary or community activities you have been involved with.

Standard Entrance Test (SET)

If your application and vetting forms are accepted, the next stage is the Standard Entrance Test, or SET. The SET is really made up of three half hour tests: language, numbers, and information handling. You must pass all three tests in order to progress with your application, and although you can sit the tests a maximum of three times, you must wait six months between retakes. It is therefore vital that you prepare in advance for each test.

SET Verbal Test

The SET language test examines your ability to understand and use language. There are 40 questions to answer in 30 minutes, and a pass mark of 30. The test contains four sections including a section asking you to complete a sentence; fill in the blanks in a passage; put sentences in order; and some verbal reasoning questions asking you to answer statements based on the information provided. Whilst the first three sections are fairly straightforward, the last section is a little more challenging. You can prepare for the SET language test with JobTestPrep’s verbal reasoning practice packs, here.

SET Numerical Test

This test examines your ability to make numerical calculations. There are 20 questions to answer in 30 minutes, and you must get 13 right to pass the test. The questions range from mathematical functions (addition, subtraction, division and multiplication) to calculations based on numerical riddles. You are not allowed to use a calculator in this test, you have to make all calculations on a piece of paper. It is worth brushing up on your maths skills in order to ensure that you have the time to complete as many questions as possible in the time allocated. JobTestPrep can help you with our numerical computation practice tests.

SET Numerical Reasoning Test

The SET information handling test assesses how you understand information presented in numerical formats such as graphs or tables, or on a form. You are asked up to six questions on the information contained in each table, graph or form. You have 30 minutes to answer 24 questions, with a pass mark of 16. You cannot use a calculator. This test is often called a numerical reasoning test. The time limited nature of the test is one of the most difficult elements to deal with on the day as it creates pressure, and can make you rush your answers at the expense of providing accurate responses. Practising in advance will show you what to expect, and help you answer questions quickly and accurately. See JobTestPrep’s numerical reasoning practice tests to get that all important preparation.

Fitness Assessment

If you pass the SET, you are next invited to a fitness assessment. This assessment is the same as for Police Officers, and is either a bleep test, or a 1.5 mile run depending on which division you are applying to.

Panel Interview

The panel interview is your only interview in the Special Constable recruitment process, so make sure you are top of your game on the day. You will be interviewed by two members of the local recruiting team. It is vital you make the right impression, and preparation is key to that. Ahead of the interview, make sure you research the local division you are applying to, their work, and any big recent cases. Also review your application form for the answers you provided to questions. The interview will assess you on a number of competencies: effective communication, personal effectiveness; teamwork, respect for diversity, job knowledge, personal awareness, and service delivery. Prepare examples against these competencies ahead of the interview, and practice organising your responses around the STAR method. The best preparation for any interview is a mock or practice interview before the big day. You can practice with a friend, but even better is JobTestPrep’s Skype based interviews which will target the interview towards the job you are applying for, and give you feedback on what to improve for next time.

In Summary

The final stages involve medical and drugs tests before you start training to be a special. The next intake of Special Constables will be March 2014, and the recruitment process will be tough. This article has guided you through each stage of the recruitment process, providing JobTestPrep’s tips and resources for preparing ahead of the each stage. We hope you have found this article useful. Good luck.

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