Special Constables Application Form, Psychometric Tests, Assessment Day and Interview Preparation

Have you applied or considering applying to become a Special Constable with the police? Special Constables are volunteers with similar powers to those of Police Officers. As a result, the College of Policing have devised a testing national recruitment process which is aimed at ensuring Special Constables have the skills needed to do the job. This article will go through the process providing tips along the way on how to prepare.
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Special Constables are volunteers with similar powers to those of a Police Officer, but are unpaid and only work in this capacity for four hours a week. Given the important nature of their jobs, they have to have the skills needed to perform effectively. Recruitment as special constables is generally carried out according to the National Specials Recruit Assessment Process. However, the recruitment process might vary, depending on the individual police force. 

The College of Policing application process for Special Constables is:

Individual forces may add their own specific stages, such as a numerical test, or a second interview.

Special Constable Application Form

The application form is your first opportunity to make an impression on the recruiting officers. As well as the usual questions about you, your education, interests and employment, you are asked to fill in a competency based questionnaire (CBQ). The purpose of the questionnaire is to assess your suitability as a Special Constable against the competencies listed above. You must ensure that you answer every question on the questionnaire, providing examples of when you have used these skills in the past. To find out more about answering competency based questions, see the competency interview sections on the JobTestPrep website.

The College of Policing have set out the following desired competencies for Special Constables:
  • Serving the public
  • Openness to change
  • Service delivery
  • Professionalism
  • Decision making
  • Working with others

These competencies are used to assess the candidate throughout the recruitment process - from application form to assessment centre. 

Special Constable Assessment Centre

If your application form meets the standard required by the recruitment team, you will be invited to a three hour assessment day. The assessment day has been designed by the College of Policing, and is designed to test you against the competencies listed above, several times over.

The tests at the assessment day are:

Written Exercise

The written exercise is based on a case study provided by the College of Policing. You are a newly appointed Customer Services Officer at the fictional Westshire Centre, a retail and leisure complex. Information about the case study is sent to you ahead of the assessment day. To find out more about how to use a case study in your work, see our pages on case studies on the JobTestPrep website.

In this written exercise you are given a briefing and a proposal document template to complete in 20 minutes. You are given a briefing at the start of the test, and you will need to complete a proposal document about issues at the Westshire® Centre. The design of your report is prescribed by the template. You can find our tips on how to sharpen your skills in written exercises with JobTestPrep’s written exercises pages.

Police Situational Judgement Test

The third test at the assessment centre is the police situational judgement test or SJT. These tests measure how you respond to situations that you may come up against daily in your job. In this test, you are given a situation and four possible responses. You are asked to rate each of the responses for their effectiveness. You have 50 minutes to answer 25 questions. You should do your best to answer all questions. Practising ahead of the assessment day will enable you to learn more about your responses to situations, and how to choose an effective response quickly and efficiently. You can practise for the SJT with JobTestPrep’s specially developed SJT preparation packs.

Competency-Based Interview

The Special Constable interview is a competency-based interview lasting up to 20 minutes. You are asked four questions about how you have dealt with specific situations in the past. These questions are based on the competencies required for a special constable. You have five minutes to answer each question. 
The interviewer will ask you one question against each of these four different competencies. Ahead of the interview, you should prepare examples from your experience of when you have shown these skills in the past. These competencies are:
  • Openness to change
  • Professionalism
  • Service Delivery
  • Working with Others

A sample question on the competency professionalism is: 

"Please give me a specific example of a task, project or responsibility that you have undertaken that you are particularly proud of." 

The best way to respond to competency-based questions in an interview is to organise your answer using the STAR method. You should prepare your examples demonstrating your skills against these competencies in advance, and practise your delivery of those answers. Practising will help you gain confidence in your answers, and practising in a mock interview will give you feedback as to what you are doing right, and what you are getting wrong. JobTestPrep provide Skype based interviews, offering just this feedback. 

Fitness Test

Special Constables need to have good physical fitness levels in order to carry out their day to day job. Applicants are tested on two key fitness requirements:
  • Dynamic strength - push/pull test, in which the candidate is asked to perform a simulated bench press action and a seated rowing action. The candidate must be able to  push 34 Kg and pull 35 Kg to pass. on Dyno machine.
  • Endurance - a ‘bleep test’, in which the candidate runs continuously between two lines, in time with recorded beeps. You will need to reach a minimum of four shuttles at level 5 to pass.
The College of Policing advise you start getting fit even before you apply, to ensure that you achieve the required level of fitness.

Medical Tests

Part of the responsibility and requirements of a Special Constable is to be in good physical condition and health, to endure the demands of the job. Applicants are tested on the following conditions:

  • BMI strength - push/pull test, in which the candidate is asked to perform a simulated bench press action and a seated rowing action. The candidate must be able to  push 34 Kg and pull 35 Kg to pass. on Dyno machine.
  • Lung function and blood pressure.
  • Colour vision - colour blindness might be an eliminating factor, based on the specific role and police force.
  • Hearing - candidates who wear hearing aids or are partially deaf are not automatically disqualified. Candidates below ideal hearing level are reviewed by in-house ear, nose and throat specialists.
  • Eyesight - a successful recruit needs to meet the following standard without glasses or lenses: 6/36.

In Summary

Special Constables have similar powers to Police Officers, only they work on voluntary basis, with fewer hours. As a result, the recruiting team have to be certain that the people they approve have the skills needed to handle the pressure of the job, both in terms of specified competencies and physical fitness. The application process is challenging, and requires you to be at the top of your game at each stage.
This article has taken you through each stage of the recruitment process, and we hope you have found it useful. Good luck!

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