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Completing the Police Application Form

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You will have to start at the beginning – the police application form

I’ve been giving feedback on police application form completion for a few years and if there is one thing that most of them have in common, it’s that they’re just not exceptional enough.

Police Forces receive thousands of application forms for just a small number of places as a Regular Constable so they will use all that is fair (in their opinion, maybe not yours) and within their and the College of Policing rules to weed out those forms that don’t demonstrate just how exceptional you are.

I use the word exceptional as this is the exact phrase used by Essex and other police forces on their websites when they advertised their recent vacancies.

Think about it, you’re going for a career that in monetary terms alone could be worth over £2 Million! Yes, that is how much your salary and pension alone might well cost a police force over the term of your career. The question is – are you worth it and can you demonstrate you are?

The window of recruitment opportunity for your chosen force might be just a few weeks so there’s little to be gained from waiting until it opens and then deciding what you should be putting in your form. Now is the time to prepare an outstanding application form that demonstrates how exceptional you are.

The below is a cut and paste from the standard police constable application form (they are all very similar). I’ve added some comments and tips where appropriate. You’ll receive a more detailed bespoke to your chosen force version should you decide to sign up for my application form checking service.

Skills

Please tell us about any other skills you have such as driving or language skills and any voluntary or community activities you have been involved with.

Comment – Save your word count for language skills if you have them (becoming increasingly important to forces) and especially voluntary / community activities. I’m always amazed at the number of applicants to the police who when asked the question at final interview, ‘Why do you want to join the police?’ provide a cliched answer along the lines of, ‘Because I want to serve my community….. followed by more cliches.’

What floors them is the next question, ‘So if you want to serve your community, what are you doing now to fulfil that goal?’

If the answer is nothing then you’ve just failed and your application won’t go any further. Being a police officer and serving your community should be in your DNA – if you are not volunteering in some form to serve your community now then you should be.

Competency Assessment Questions

• At this stage of the application, it is vital that candidates can demonstrate the competencies needed to be effective in the role of a police constable. You need to be able to demonstrate that you have the competencies in order for your application to proceed to the next stage.
• Please write only in the spaces provided. Any response outside of the spaces provided will not be assessed. You must not add extra lines or in any way increase the size of the space available for each section.
• Do not use continuation pages as these will not be assessed.
• Please answer truthfully as you may be asked to expand on these examples at assessment.
• Please write clearly and concisely and pay attention to your spelling, handwriting, punctuation and grammar, as these will be assessed.

Comment – the instructions above have to be followed to the letter. If you don’t then you have just given the recruiting team a reason to reject your application. They’re looking for any reason to whittle the numbers down to something that is manageable.

Punctuation and grammar – you are allowed up to 10 mistakes, I suspect some forces might have gone lower than that. Spellchecker isn’t enough especially if it is set to Word U.S.

Get someone else to check your form for you. Every form I have checked as part of my service has contained mistakes and at least half of them would have failed if I had not pointed out the errors.

On all of the below competency based questions. Your answers need to be outstanding examples of when (in the words of a senior recruiter I know in one police force), ‘you have given 120% without being asked to do so.’ Examples of problems you have tackled involving other people / agencies will stand out.

For Special Constables and PCSOs – you could be at a disadvantage. You might describe an incident or problem you have tackled that sounds brilliant, you might even have been commended for it. But remember, ‘120% without being asked to do so.’ Your arrest, how you dealt with an RTC, delivering bad news, dealing with conflict, might well read as nothing more than, ‘I went to work and did my job.’ There has to be a ‘So What?’ to your answer. Too many people describe what they do for a living, it’s not enough, you have to demonstrate exceptional.

Now is the time to gather up this evidence, push yourself at work or in volunteering to do more than is expected of you, especially if it involves the public.

Q1 Professionalism

Please describe a specific occasion when you have intervened to take control of a situation.
Why was it necessary to intervene in the situation?
What did you do to take control of the situation?
What did you consider when intervening in the situation?
What was particularly good or effective about how you intervened to take control of the situation?
What difficulties did you experience and how did you overcome them?

Q2 Working with others

Please describe a specific occasion when you have encouraged a person to view an issue more positively.
Why was it necessary to encourage the person to view the issue more positively?
How did you encourage the person to view the issue more positively?
What did you consider when encouraging the person to view the issue more positively?
What was particularly good or effective about how you encouraged the person to view the issue more positively?
What difficulties did you experience and how did you overcome them?

Q3 Decision Making

Please describe a specific occasion when you have considered a number of options before making a decision.
Why was it necessary to consider a number of options before making the decision?
What did you consider when identifying the options?
What did you consider when making the decision?
What was particularly good or effective about how you identified the options and made the decision?
What difficulties did you experience and how did you overcome them?

Q4 Service Delivery

Please describe a specific occasion when you have had to manage your time effectively in order to complete a task.
Why did you have to manage your time effectively in order to complete the task?
How did you manage your time effectively in order to complete the task?
What did you consider to make sure you completed the task?
What was particularly good or effective about how you managed your time?
What difficulties did you experience and how did you overcome them?

In questions 5 to 10 below, we want to know something about your motivations to be a police officer. We want to know your expectations of police work and what preparation you have undertaken before applying. These questions are important and you may not progress to the next stage if you do not answer these questions fully.

Q5 Tell us why you want to become a police officer?

Comment – don’t just re-write what is written on the police website. What’s really driving you to join the police? Strong answers from delegates on my seminars have been around someone (a police officer or relative) inspiring them, or being on the receiving end of service from the police that was exceptional.

Q6 Tell us why you have applied to your chosen police force

Comment – ‘Because you are the only one recruiting’ is not a good answer. What links do you have with the force area? Can you demonstrate that you share their values?

Q7 Tell us in some detail what tasks you expect to be undertaking as a police officer

Comment – Get real here, don’t just re-hash what is on their website. Think about it, you will be dealing with the most vulnerable in society who might hate and despise you – at 5 in the morning after 10 hours at work can you go the extra mile for them?

Q8 Tell us what effect you expect being a police officer to have on your social and domestic life

Comment – Again, be real, demonstrate that you have discussed this with your family / loved ones.

Q9 What preparation have you undertaken before making this application to ensure that you know what to expect and that you are prepared for the role of a police officer?

Comment – As a minimum this should involve at least one visit to a police station or to a community meeting. Policing degrees, CKP, I’ve read up on the role, won’t be as impressive as getting out there, asking questions, securing a ‘ride along,’ going to community meetings, taking part in community activities related to community safety and working alongside police officers / PCSO’s.

Q10 If you have previously applied to be a police officer, special constable or police community support officer (PCSO), what have you done since your last application to better prepare yourself for the role of a police officer

Comment – As above, what have you done that is over and above what others will have done to make sure you stand out?

So, there you go, might seem daunting but this is what is involved if you want to join the police as a regular. You have to be exceptional and worth £2 Million!

For more guidance on how to complete your application form please see Bluelight’s application form checking service

 

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