Tales of a trainee: The application process

PC Emanuele Cipolloni

Applying for any job is never something to be taken lightly and the application for the police is no different.

When it comes to applying for the police, the candidate has to possess a different skillset to your typical office job. They should be capable of handling not just personal problems but, most importantly, the problems of others, with competence, respect and tact.

The application process for the police is relatively long and at times can be frustrating.

Surviving each step is a small victory that inspires you towards the next one.

Many candidates fail at various stages but I met some excellent officers who have tried a few times before getting in – if you fail the first time round please don’t be discouraged.

With tens of thousands of people applying for the police each year, competition is fierce. Winning is not easy; it requires effort, motivation and commitment; just like the job of the police officer itself.

Before applying for the police, I’d not done a job interview for 20 years, relying instead on experience to advance my career.

So I felt quite unnerved when I realised that my CV and my degrees all of a sudden held little weight when it came to the police.

While I wouldn’t define myself a perfectionist, I always like to know that I have done my best.

So I took lessons at the Open University to improve my handwriting, brushed up my logic and problem solving skills, and read all the literature about British police I could find.

You won’t be tested on your knowledge of Sir Robert Peel, however this job has a history and while the policing style has certainly changed over the decades, it is still based on the very same Peelian Principles written in 1829.

Ignoring these principles means not understanding the job itself.

The initial process is quite simple as it was done completely online; the first two tests assess basic problem solving while the application form, beside some personal details, is used to assess whether the candidate posses sufficient life experience and personal skills to become a police officer.

After my application was accepted, I had an interview with a panel composed of police officers and staff. The interview took around 20 minutes and consisted of a number of questions based around my skills.

Next up was the assessment centre. I have to admit that the assessment centre was both equally an interesting and awkward experience.

There are several tests, oral and written, and they last around four or five hours in total. The tests consist of role plays, an interview, two written exercises, a logical reasoning test and finally a basic numerical test.

Fortunately I was successful at the assessment centre and I was on to the last three phases of the recruitment process: medical checks, fitness test and vetting.

Without diminishing the importance of the other two, I would say that the fitness test requires some preparation in the months preceding it.

I believe that far too many candidates worry that to be successful during the application process it is necessary to think like a police officer – but this isn’t correct.

The ideal candidate needs to show that they can handle real life situations, be capable of prioritising the needs of the community, those of the organisation, and be capable of looking after himself/herself at all time.

Most importantly, they should possess the integrity and honesty that characterises each and every police officer.

Next week I will blog about the 20 weeks of training I had at Bedfordshire Police headquarters, alongside 15 other new recruits.

Recruitment for Police Officers is now open and closes on the 15th May 2016. Apply here.


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