Becoming a Police Officer for the PSNI, Practice the Aptitude Test and Pass the Recruitment Process

Are you applying to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to become a police officer? The PSNI recruitment process is detailed and has several stages that you need to complete in order to receive an offer. Learn about the process and get the practice materials with JobTestPrep.
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The Police Service of Northern Ireland, the PSNI has approximately 10,000 employees spread across the different divisions. Operating in a more highly charged area of the UK, police officers are required to carry firearms. Due to this, there is a particularly long recruitment process which we will discuss below.

The PSNI recruitment process contains the following steps:

The entire PSNI recruitment process is handled by Deloitte and there are numerous cut off points throughout. We will go through each of the stages below.

PSNI Application Form

This is a fairly lengthy application form where you need to affirm that you have the requisite grades needed to apply. As well as this, there are a number of motivational questions that you need to answer and these assess your reasons for joining the police force in Northern Ireland. In order to answer these questions in the best manner, you need to show that you possess the key values and competencies of PSNI. These are:

  • Decision Making
  • Leadership: Openness to change
  • Leadership: Service delivery
  • Professionalism
  • Public Service: Serving the public
  • Working with others

When completing your personal statement s it is imperative that you include these personal qualities in your answers. Moreover, throughout the entire PSNI recruitment process, you will be assessed and judged on these six qualities. Therefore you need to ensure that you show them during every stage of recruitment.

PSNI Aptitude Test

This is known as the PSNI Initial Selection Test (IST) and is managed by Deloitte with the tests provided by Kenexa. There are three parts to this test and each of them needs to be completed within the given time frame. We will outline each of them below.

Spelling and Grammar Test

The first section of the IST is a spelling and grammar test where you are given a paragraph to read through and spot the mistakes that have been made. This test is used to assess your ability to understand and interpret written material correctly. You need to spot the grammar errors such as knowing where the word "there" is used as opposed to "their". Not only is spotting these errors somewhat difficult but having to find them under time pressure can be very difficult. Therefore to give yourself the best chance of success it is highly recommended that you practice taking similar error checking tests.

Kenexa Verbal Reasoning Test

In this section of the tests you will be presented with a passage that you need to read through and understand quickly. At the bottom of the passage there are some statements which you need to judge in three categories. Is the statement True, False, or Cannot Say? This test is designed to assess your ability to interpret verbal data in the correct manner. Answering this requires an understanding not only of the text but also what is expected of you during the test. What this means is that you have to only judge the validity of the statement in reference to the text. Even if the statement seems incorrect in your eyes, if the passage states it then the answer is correct. For further information on how to answer verbal reasoning tests and practice.

Error Checking Test

In this test you are expected to show careful judgement in a work-based scenario. You will be presented with a number of different tables containing various data that relate to each other. You will be asked questions relating to the data in the tables and have to select the correct answer from five different possibilities.

Together these three tests comprise the IST for the PSNI. There are two main issues to deal with in the taking of these tests. First of all is the content itself which if you are unfamiliar with will be somewhat hard to comprehend. However, the other point of importance is the fact that when taking the PSNI aptitude test you will be under severe time pressure as well as general "exam pressure". Whilst very difficult to deal with pressure and stress, knowing what you are going to face is the best way of ensuring that you will remain at a healthy equilibrium. Taking practise tests is the best way to fully prepare yourself for this test.

PSNI Assessment Centre

There are a number of different exercises that you will face during the PSNI assessment centre and we will outline them below. Bear in mind that throughout the day the key values mentioned above will be assessed. Therefore ensure that you know them and have examples of when you have put them into action previously.

PSNI Role Play Exercises

There are three role play exercises that you will need to go through during the assessment centre. They are all aimed at seeing how you act and react to different situations that you can expect to face in the real world.

For example, a shop-owner has been caught distributing free samples without a permit. You will be playing the role of a police officer in charge of the security team who has stopped the shop-owner from doing so. He is very irate complaining that he has been running this shop for years without any trouble and now the security officers are giving him a hard time. You need to explain to him that it is indeed against the law to distribute the samples at this time and place. This needs to be done in a sensitive and calm manner, keeping the shop-owners trust whilst at the same time not giving into his demands. You need to show that you are firm and immovable in your ruling once you have decided that this is the correct course of action.

Moreover, work through the key values and demonstrate each of them in the course of each of the role plays. At JobTestPrep we have a role play exercise guidance pack which will help you succeed during the PSNI role play exercise.

PSNI Interview

The PSNI interview has two parts to it. The first part is a regular, "get to know you" interview with questions pertaining to your reasons why you want to join the Northern Ireland Police Force. This will be a test of your motivation that you have already filled in when writing your motivational statement in your original application form. Make sure you have reread this statement in the PSNI application form to ensure that your answers are congruent with what you have already written.

The second part of the interview is completely based on the competencies that we have listed above. For example, you may be asked the following: Tell me about a time when you have demonstrated professionalism. You have to explain a situation where you have done so using the STAR method. This is a popular method of answering questions where you explain a real story with a problem and how you dealt with it.

The best way to prepare for an interview is to have a mock one. At JobTestPrep we offer a Skype based interview preparation package that gives you not just an interview but you will receive valuable feedback thus enabling you to perform to your best at the actual PSNI interview.

PSNI Written Exercise

In the PSNI written exercise you will be given a brief that relates to your upcoming role in the police force. You will be presented with a problem and you have to write a report on how best to deal with the issue. For example, you are the customer service officer for a shopping centre and there is a shop that wants to open up. However, opening this shop is subject to your approval as the shop in question has received complaints from shoppers elsewhere that the customers are unruly and disturb them. You will be given full information about the case and you have to compose a report dealing with it. This report must be structured properly with an introduction, middle and conclusion. Find out how we can help you here.

Other steps

There are a number of other steps needed to complete your application. They are:

  • Medical
  • Vetting
  • Physical Test and examination

In order to be ready for any of these stages make sure you are in reasonable physical shape and are not under the influence of any substances.

In Summary

As we have seen, there are many stages in the PSNI recruitment process, including the aptitude test, the IST as well as interviews and role plays. Using the tools and tips that we provide at JobTestPrep, you will be able to perform to your highest level. We hope you have enjoyed this article and look forward to hearing from you soon so we can help you succeed in your application to Police Service of Northern Ireland. Good Luck!

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