With permission, we have been allowed to use the following 10 tips for passing the police interview which a well-respected senior police officer offered to colleagues. This officer had chaired many promotion interview boards and had recently passed the toughest interview selections that the police hold in order to enter the ACPO ranks. The tips appear here virtually unedited. However, because they are meant for aspiring sergeants and inspectors, we’ve added some information in italics so you can apply them to your police assessment centre interview and police final interview preparation. You will see that it was not necessary for us to add many comments because the advice is very good and applies for any job interview at every level.
- Be lively and passionate. By exciting and enthusing the police interview panel, you’re showing you’ll excite and enthuse your team.
- Don’t ramble on, flying off at tangents, saying the next thing that comes into your head. The best candidates listened to the question, paused and then thought through their answers before starting to speak.
- Structure and delivery. Dull monotone lists of a series of random thoughts like “it’s about this”, “it’s about that”, “it’s about something else”, “it’s about the thing I’ve just remembered that may be vaguely relevant” doesn’t suggest the candidate has really thought this through and is difficult to mark.
- Empathy for the interview panel. They’re listening to the same answers to the same questions over and over again. Avoid formulaic answers. Try to make your evidence original and memorable.
- When preparing, don’t overload. You may be assuaging that sense of impending doom as the day approaches but that’s all you’re doing. Instead ask around and identify the ten contemporary issues and challenges facing the force. Then sit down and think:
- What do you know about these? Compile a short list.
- What do you think about these with regards to your personal take? Compile a short list.
- What have you done and what would you do at the next rank? Compile short list.
You now have the structure for your answers
At the police assessment centre, you will not be expected to know all the main issues the police face. Only use this tips while preparing for your police final interview. Because at this final interview, you will be expected to have done some research on your specific force. We suggest after your assessment centre day that you find 3 to 5 main issues to compile a list and then add your own thoughts about how you could help as a constable for the force to overcome these issues. It could be something as simple as a constable acting professional and treating every community member with respect and courtesy to help the force improve public confidence. Or keeping a victim of crime updated re: the progress you’re making on their case.
- Compile the “what have you done” into a list of no more than ten examples. You now have your exciting evidence ready.
Again, this tip is for your police final interview. You will already have examples ready for your police assessment interview as the four questions that you are asked will be very similar to the four competency-based questions you answered at your police application form. Don’t be afraid to use them as they’re your best examples, plus the interviewer won’t have seen them. The interviewers at your final police interview would have looked at them and will expect you to use them if their questions are relevant to them.
- Practice! For right or for wrong, it ultimately all comes down to your 45 minutes and 6 questions. So practice your interview technique. Allow colleagues, friends or partners to grill you. Video yourself to see how you come over. Sounds over-the-top but “Train hard: Fight Easy!”
This tip applies to the police final interview. For the police assessment centre interview, it will be 4 questions over 20 minutes.
- Think Positive. Don’t get psyched out by the interview situation. From the other side of the table, there is no desire to intimidate or make it harder. We just want to select great leaders. So see this for what it is – a conversation about leadership; not a life and death situation.
The competencies ‘openness to change and ‘service delivery’ are bannered under leadership. In many situations, a constable will be expected to take charge and lead people. The people you will be leading are members of the public, usually at their most difficult time in life (road traffic collisions, sudden deaths of loved ones, mental health issues, etc). Ultimately, the panel wants to see that you are an enthusiastic individual with high integrity and a mature attitude who will be an asset to their force.
- Relax. If you relax, your natural ability will come through. So do some “sports psychology” to make sure your head is in the right place. Take some time out immediately prior to your interview. Go to the movies the night before. Take a spa day. Go for a gentle run in the morning. Anything to get relaxed and focused.
- Think at the level you’re aspiring to. This isn’t easy. Everyone recognises that but these skills can be learned, will catalyse your development and are useful in the workplace.
Remember that they are interviewing you as a police officer so make them believe you are ready to join their team! If you are asked a generic question don’t be afraid to link it to their force. For example, if you’re asked ‘What qualities do you think make a good police officer?’, answer the question and link it to their own force values because that is what they think are important qualities. Don’t be bashful to them that you possess those qualities.
If you would like to learn more about how to practice and get some expert help from recently retired police officers, you can sign up for our online police selection interview technique course. This course gives you 90 days of unlimited access to police interview study and practice to get you ready for your police assessment centre interview, police final interview or for serving police officers for your sergeant and inspectors promotion interview. You can find information on the course here.
If you would like one-to-one coaching from a recently retired police inspector or police chief superintendent, please visit our one-to-one coaching page.