Assessment Centre Secrets

The Structured Competency Interview (Police Officer)

The structured interview carries 12% of the marks in your assessment centre. This is the third most important exam, behind role-plays and the written exercises. From the 1st Nov 2009 you will be required to answer questions relating to the following competencies:

  • Community and Customer Focus
  • Resilience
  • Team Working
  • Race and Diversity

In addition to the above four competencies, you are also being assessed against Oral Communications. This is your ability to use plain and clear English, with structure to your answers. You will be penalised if you use Acronyms or Abbreviations such as BT, IBM, MPS etc, as these mean different things to different people.

You will be given 5 minutes to provide an answer to each question. A copy of each question will be provided on a laminated card, this is so you do not have to keep asking the interviewer to repeat the question. If your answer does not contain the necessary information, then the interviewer will ask you further probing questions i.e., what was the outcome?

At the end of each 5 minutes the interviewer will stop you, and you will move onto the next question. If you complete all questions in under 20 minutes, you will remain in the room until the process has been completed. The interviewer will advise you when you can leave. Some common myths about the interview:

  1. More than 1 person will interview me – Incorrect. Only 1 person carries out the interview. This same person is also responsible for assessing you.
  2. I need to know about my chosen force – Incorrect. You will be required to ask 4 questions, each relating to your past experience. Police knowledge is not required nor is essential.
  3. I will lose marks if the interviewer has to prompt me – Incorrect. If the interviewer is asking you further probing questions, this is to help you. It means you have yet to provide this information and they are using probing questions to try and elicit the information from you. Marks are not deducted for being prompted.
  4. I must speak for 5 minutes – Incorrect. This is a tick-box process, so if you answer your question in 2 minutes and it contains all the necessary skills they are seeking, then there is no need to talk for the remainder of the time. The interviewer will advise you that you have time remaining and if there is anything else you would like to add.
  5. I cannot use examples from the same place or work/education – Incorrect. Providing the examples you deliver meet the skills required, it does not matter whether they all relate to the same place of work/education etc.

I hope you found this useful.
Course Tutor and Recruitment Director

This article has been written by former police recruitment manager David Vidgen.