Assessment Centre Secrets

Ministry of Defence (MOD): Firearms Assessment

I teach many candidates whom are applying for the MOD police. With the MOD they require you to pass the fitness test and firearms test, normally the day before your assessment centre.

The firearms test consists of you handling an unloaded MP7 handgun and they teach you a simple drill with it; they are simply looking to see if you can follow instructions for safe handling of the gun and that you get the hang of moving the parts of the gun. Easy! It also gives you the opportunity to see if they really want a career where they will be carrying a gun 70% of the time.

Application Form Secrets

Police Application Form : Competency Answers

Most, if not all forces at this time are closed for new police applications.  My advice is to prepare your application so that when they do reopen you are ready to submit your form.

From my experience police forces work on a first come first served basis, those candidates that send their forms back first, are often the ones that are marked first, and of course progress to a police assessment centre first.

Forces have also been know to ‘cream of the crop’ so those candidates that get the highest papersift scores, are also those who are called for their assessment centre earliest. With an increasing number of individuals wanting to join the service, yet chasing fewer vacancies it is important that you are amongst those candidates with the highest pass marks. With this in mind, our police application form checking service, costing just £25.00 not only guarantees that your form meets the required standard, but we also aim to ensure that your form is amongst the highest scoring applications.


Assessment Centre Secrets

Written Communications : Explained

I receive many calls from candidates who are looking for assistance in their preparations for a 2nd or perhaps 3rd attempt at a police assessment centre.

During the initial conversation they suggest that their weakness was with the written proposals. Candidates form this opinion because on their feedback form it advises them that they did not meet the requirement for Written Communications.

Now, Written Communications is assessed 3 times throughout your assessment centre. The Verbal Logical Reasoning test falls into this competency, along with your spelling and grammar in both of your written proposals. Written Communications is NOT what you wrote in your proposal, it is how you wrote it. E.g Capital Letters for the start of sentences and names. Full stops. Avoiding the use of acronyms and abbreviations. For example H&S would be unacceptable; you would need to write health and safety.

If for example you wrote in your proposal that the centre must liaise with the Police before events take place, this would score you a mark in Team Working. If you spelt the word liaise as ‘liase’ this would be a spelling error and count against Written Communications.

So if you have recently failed a police assessment centre for Written Communications, you need to work on your spelling and grammar, and Verbal Logical Reasoning tests.

If you need assistance with Written Communications, please do consider attending one of our police recruitment one to one courses.

Assessment Centre Secrets

Which exercises are more important than others?

With so many books on the market and plenty of forums to browse, it is increasingly difficult for candidates to get accurate advice regarding the police assessment centre.

The difficulty you face as a candidate is knowing what is good accurate advice and what is not? Believe it or not, the worse people to ask about how to join the job is police officers!  The current recruitment process was only introduced in 2004, therefore the chance of you speaking to an police officer who joined since then is slim. Even if they have joined since, the feedback reports you receive as candidates do NOT tell you what you said or wrote that enabled you to be successful – a successful candidate would merely be guessing or speculating if they told you how to pass. The same is true for forums…Avoid these like the plague!!! They are populated by candidates, most of which are unsuccessful (remember 70% fail assessment centre).

I actually worked in recruitment…there is no better person to speak to about how to join than myself.

So which exercises are more important than others? Well for sure the role-plays are the most important exercises, with 57% of all marks being available from these. Next, is the written proposals with 26%, followed by the interview with 12%. I’m afraid all you candidates who have been practicing hard with your maths, this accounts for just 2.5% of the marks – the same can be said for the verbal logical reasoning test.

STOP PRESS: There is NO pass mark for the maths exercise (AKA Numerical Reasoning).

As mentioned the Maths exam only accounts for 2.5% of all marks, that’s 3 out of 123 marks available. The maths test forms part of the Problem Solving competency, which is tested 7 times at present – 21 marks available. There is no pass mark for problem solving, hence no pass mark for the maths.

The only core competency that actually has a pass mark is Race and Diversity. There is 21 marks available for Diversity, of which you have to score 50%, 55% or 60% – depending on which force you apply for. If the pass mark is 60%, you must achieve 13 marks or more to reach the standard. You are not allowed to obtain a grade D in Race and Diversity. In other words you must give an example in your interview that fits with Race and Diversity, or the examiner will only be able to award you a grade D. During the role-plays, of course you have to remain impartial, and suggesting that all youths should be banned from the centre, would clearly be prejudice towards a persons age and would get you a grade D score.

The same applies when you are in the holding room, having just completed your role-plays, if you say “blimey I had a blonde moment in that exercise” then a grade D is on your way!!!

So in order, the most important exercises are:

  • Role-Plays 57% of all marks available (72 marks out of 123)
  • Written 26% (30 marks out of 123)
  • Interview 12% (15 marks out of 123)
  • Verbal Logical Reasoning 2.5% (3 marks out of 123)
  • Maths 2.5% (3 marks out of 123)

To be succesful with a force there a four pass marks that must be achieved:

  • Overall 50%, 55% or 60% (depending on which force you apply for – see my blog post on 50% or 60%)
  • Race and Diversity 50%, 55% or 60% (as above)
  • Oral Communication 50%, 55% or 60% (as above)
  • Written Communication 44% (same for all forces)

Overall there are 123 marks available, therfore if you applying for a force that requires 60% or more, you would need to obtain 78 or more marks to reach the standard.

As mentioned, for Race and Diversity there are 21 marks available. A 60% standard would require you to score 13 marks or more.

Oral Communications has 15 marks available. A 60% standard would require you to achieve 9 marks or more.

Finally, Written Communication has just 9 marks available. The 44% standard requires you to obtain 4 marks or more. Written Communication is assessed just 3 times – the Verbal Logical Reasoning Test carries a weighting of 3 marks, finally your spelling and grammar in your written proposals carries 3 marks for each (total 6 marks). You must not exceed more than 5 spelling or 4 grammatical errors in each proposal.

If you’ve recently been unsuccessful with an assessment centre and you would like to know where you went wrong, please do call ‘David’ the Recruitment Director on 07890 607967 (have your assessment results in front of you).

When I teach police recruitment training, all of this is explained along with a score matrix. A score matrix is a document that tells you which competencies are tested in which exercises. This is very useful, because it enables you to focus on particular competency skills in particular exercises. For example: Personal Responsibility is tested in 3 out of the 4 role-plays, I’ll tell you which ones and how to evidence your understanding of this competency.

The police assessment centre is a tick box process, they are looking for you to ask particular questions and state particular things…If you fail to do this, you will be rejected. Find out more about a group police assessment centre training course or to have a one to one police assessment training course.

Assessment Centre Secrets

Assessment Centre: Customer Focus Top Tip

Community and Customer focus is just one the seven core competencies you are assessed on when you undertake your police / pcso assessment centre.

Here’s a few tips on ensuring you are heading in the right direction during your role-plays:

  1. How to manage expectations – well you have to first ask what their expectations are: What would you like to acheive from today’s meeting?
  2. How to know if a customer is happy with your course of action – Are you happy with the course of action I am taking to resolve this matter?
  3. If the customer threatens to take their business elsewhere – tell them they are valued and you do not wish for this to happen…

This is just an example of some the quality training you receive when you attend a police recruitment training course with

Assessment Centre Secrets

Assessment Centre Pass Marks: 50% or 60%

The current assessment centre process was introduced in 2004 and at this time all forces required candidates to achieve a pass mark of 50% or higher. A year later the bar was raised to 60%, as many of the small forces were getting too many candidates pass V’s the number of vacancies.

By raising the bar to 60%, this clearly had an impact on any force that had a significant number of vacancies. Of course by having a higher pass mark, fewer candidates are successful. 70% of candidates who attend an assessment centre with a force that has a 60% or higher pass mark are rejected.

It is now apparent that forces have differing pass marks; some set the bar at 50%, while others require 55% or 60%. But what implications does this have for you as a candidate? Well, let’s say for example you applied for a force that had a 50% mark and you were successful with 54%. Later on in your career you decided you wanted to transfer to another force. Well here could be the stumbling block! If the force you wish to transfer to had a pass mark of 60%, they would probably make you sit another assessment centre to prove that you could meet their standard. (Even if you are a serving officer, you probably would be required to resit the assessment to prove that you meet the same standard as other candidates being considered).

I recently had a client who is currently a serving officer with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC). When he joined the CNC a couple of years ago, he successfully completed the current recruitment process and assessment centre. Of course the training is different for the CNC than most forces, so one would expect to have to retrain for the new force. Despite this, the force that he is transferring to have made him sit another assessment centre. Surely, given that he had passed an assessment centre, he really should have been transferred and made to simply retrain? But no, that would have been too simple!

This is an example of the barriers that are in place with some forces.

My advice to candidates: even if the force you are applying only requires 50% or more to be successful, you should always aim for 60% or greater, as this will  prevent you from having to resit another assessment. Even more the case if you are applying to a small force. If they have too many candidates meet their standard, those with the highest scores are most likely to be offered first opportunity.

To my knowledge at the time of writing this post:

Forces that require 50% or greater assessment centre scores are as follows: West Midlands, British Transport Police, CNC, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Cheshire, Northumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Cumbria, Cleveland, Ministry of Defence and Merseyside.

The MET and Greater Manchester Police at this time require 55%

To my knowledge, all other forces require 60% or greater.

Please note: I do advise candidates to check with their own force as forces do change their standard as and when they feel necessary. Simply give them a telephone call and ask them what their required pass mark is!

Application Form Secrets

To tick a box, or not!

A tip on completing the Police Officer application form…

Completing the application form may not be a science, but it is certainly a tick box exercise. Forces are looking for predetermined and keyphrase answers that tick all the necessary boxes.

Where most candidates go wrong is:

a) They try to produce answers with the WOW factor. Unfortunately words such as WOW, exciting, stimulating, high-energy are not keywords or phrases that they are looking for.

b) Candidates simply don’t answer the question

Let’s take a look at question 2 (Team Working) for example:

Question: Provide an example of when you worked in a team and you were willing to share in less attractive tasks.

(i) Tell us what had to be done

(ii) How was it you became involved

(iii) What did you do and others do?

(iv) How was it decided things were going to be done?

(v) What did you do to ensure the team were able to get the result it wanted?

Given the question above: what is the most important quality they are looking for?

HERE IS THE ANSWER: Your willingness to share in less attractive tasks. This means in sub question (iii) – you clearly describe a less attractive task (using these exact words) that you undertook. AND, you tell them about the tasks that your colleagues performed – It”s not all about you!!!

In sub question (v) where you are asked what did you do to ensure the team got the result it wanted? What do you think needs to be mentioned here?

HERE IS THE ANSWER: You were willing to get involved in less attractive tasks and support your colleagues no matter how trivial the task may be.

TIP: When answering questions, use the same words that feature in the question (mirroring) – that way you can ensure that you are providing exactly what they are asking for…

If you want to guarantee your application form is accepted, the police application form help and checking service will ensure your application meets the required standard.