Police Officer Selection Process – 7 Top Tips

It’s a well-known fact that the vast majority of people fail the police officer selection process. However, in this blog post and video, Richard McMunn from How2Become.com is going to give you his 7 top tips for getting the highest scores possible.

These tips are all relevant to the police application form, assessment centre role plays, competency-based interview and even the written tests that all form part of the police officer selection process.

Please watch the video featured below and don’t forget to read the transcript provided on this page. Used in conjunction together, we have no doubt these will massively increase your chances of success whilst going through the police officer selection process.


Hi, everyone. My name’s Richard McMunn from the career guidance company how2become.com and in this video, I’m going give you seven hot tips for passing the tough police officer selection process.

The reason why I’ve put this video together is that we run a number of training courses at weekends to help people like you prepare for the selection process and somebody who attended a recent course said to us, “What’s your top tips for successfully passing the selection process?”

So, I’ve decided to put these tips in a video and share them with you. I’m going to go through each of the seven tips in detail. Please make sure you take notes as I go through the video. Watch it from beginning to end and then watch it again. And then when you’re preparing for the police officer selection process, my advice is to follow these tips and in my opinion, you will be fully prepared for the selection process, every element: the application form, the assessment centers, the interview, and even if you’re going for a final interview as well.

TIP #1 – Learn the police officer core competencies

So, tip number one is about the core competencies and learning the core competencies in detail and then being able to demonstrate them during every stage of the police officer selection process and that’s about the application form, the assessment centre, and also the interview.

So in my opinion, if you go along or go through the selection process without knowing and understanding the core competencies, your chances of a success will decrease rapidly, okay. So, you need to understand them and also use keywords and phrases from the core competencies to enable you to get higher marks.

Now, if I was assessing somebody during the police selection process, I would have the core competencies in front of me and I would be looking for triggers. If you said something or did something that was relevant to a core competency, then you would get more marks and that’s the way to tackle the selection process.

Don’t worry about what anybody else is doing. Concentrate on your own performance and be able to demonstrate the core competencies.

Now, another tip with regards to understanding the core competencies is to know which ones you’re being assessed against. Now, the core competencies have changed recently but not every police force at the time that this video is being created are using the new core competencies so make sure you check in your application pack that you’re using the correct ones, okay, and then start developing them, understanding them. Use a highlighter pen to highlight key words and phrases from the core competencies and then use them during the assessment center, application form, and the interview.

So the new core competencies, just to quickly give you an oversight of them, first one is being EMOTIONALLY AWARE so you should understand what that means as part of the core competencies and then demonstrate it during the selection process. So, if you come across somebody in the roleplay scenarios who’s upset, then you have to demonstrate that you are emotionally aware and there are different ways that you can do that.

Second one is about TAKING OWNERSHIP. You have to take ownership and responsibility for problems. So if you’re a police officer and you turn up to a fight at a pub, you’re the one who’s gonna have to resolve it. You have got to take ownership for the situation. You can’t go, “Oh, this is not my responsibility.” And during the roleplay scenarios, you’ll have to demonstrate that. You’ll be given a situation and you have to sort it out and resolve it with the resources that are at your disposal.

And that’s the next core competency, which is called WORKING COLLABORATIVELY. So when you work collaboratively, you work with other people, both within the police force and outside of the police force. That’s like stakeholders. It might be the ambulance service, the fire service, the social services, CCTV companies, and the local authority. You will work with them to resolve the issue so it’s about looking at the information that’s at your disposal and then using that to help you resolve the situations.

The next one is about DELIVERING, SUPPORTING, AND INSPIRING. So delivering is about actually delivering the values and the missions of the police force. Supporting people within the organization, supporting your colleagues, and also inspiring and motivating other people.

The next one, and this is important, is about ANALYSING CRITICALLY and that’s about looking at information that’s at your disposal and also asking questions to glean further information to help you make the right decisions, okay. So you don’t just turn up and think, “Well, I think this is what’s going on here so I’ll sort it out.” You have to look at the information that’s at your disposal and then take action thereafter. You have to be innovative and have an open mind as well. These are really important. So that’s just a brief overshot of the core competencies. Like I said, make sure you understand them, download them, make sure you get a copy of the core competencies, and then work with them during your preparation.


So the second tip, tip number two, is my advice is to use keywords and phrases from the police officer core competencies in everything you do.

During the police officer selection process, when you respond to the application form questions, have the core competencies next to you and refer to them. Use keywords and phrases.

When you go to the UK police assessment centre, say and do things that are relevant to the core competencies and also in the interview when you’re responding to the interview questions and I’ll cover those in a second, make sure you use keywords and phrases. So to give you a couple of examples, if you are demonstrating the core competency of being emotionally aware, you might say to them, say to the people, “I acknowledge and respect your opinion.” So if somebody says something to you that you don’t necessarily agree with but it falls within, like the police values, you could say, “Okay, I acknowledge and I respect your opinion but this is how we’re gonna do things.” That would be demonstrating the core competency.

The next one, you ask for help if you’re unsure. Now, everybody makes mistakes and the police do as well. So if you’re unsure about something, you will ask for help so you might decide to speak to a supervising officer or a line manager just to clarify something so you don’t make the wrong decision and that’s also about seeking assistance. So these are all words and phrases that are relevant to the core competency of being emotionally aware.

The next one, taking ownership. So, it says here about accurately identifying the issue so that’s part of the core competency. So how would you achieve that during a roleplay scenario? Well, you would ask questions to clarify so you could say, “I just wanna ask you a few questions so I can accurately identify the issue that’s at stake here.” So if you say that, you’re prepared to go into the roleplay scenario and say, “I just wanna ask you a few questions so that I can accurately identify the issue,” then you are ticking the box or part of the box within the core competency of taking ownership.

Another one with regards to taking ownership is actually taking responsibility for your own decisions. So you can say, “I’m gonna take ownership and I’m gonna resolve this issue.” So you could say that during the roleplay scenario and you could also say it during your responses to the interview questions. “So I decided to take responsibility and this is what I did.” And then the assessor will be looking going, “Yep, that’s a box ticked as well.” So it’s all about understanding the core competencies and then using key words and phrases that you’ve prepared before when you go into the scenario.


Now, tip number three, another big one, is to demonstrate impartiality during everything that you do. So being impartial is all about understanding the needs of people. So again, if you’re going through the roleplay scenario or even completing the application form, you demonstrate that you understand the needs of individuals and you take these into account when you’re making your decisions. So you have to find out what the needs of the people you’re dealing with are so that you can make the correct decision.

The next one is about treating every person in a fair and respectful manner, okay, and that’s really important in today’s police force is to treat every person in a fair and respectful manner. They’ll be looking out for you to do this in your application form responses, assessment centre, and also the competency-based interview. Making sure you communicate clearly, so you can do that by saying…you tell someone in the roleplay scenario, “This is what I’m gonna do,” and then you say to them, “Can you just confirm that you’ve understood what I’ve said here?” So that’s about clarifying what you’re saying and making sure the other person, who’s on the receiving end of your communication, understands what you’re saying.


The next one, and again, a really, really big one. I can’t emphasise enough how important this is, challenging prejudice and discrimination whenever it arises. And the chances are, during the roleplay scenarios, it will happen, okay. It will come up and you have to challenge it immediately. And it’s not about challenging it in an aggressive manner.

It’s about challenging it in a confident and assertive manner, okay. “I’m not happy with what you’ve said there. I need to stop you. Please don’t use that language again.” So that’s being confident and resilient in your responses.

So, make sure when something comes up that’s not right, if someone swears or uses abusive language, then you stop it straight away. Making decisions using fair and objective reasoning and that’s about gathering all the information that you need. Valuing and appreciating the opinions of other people, providing they fall within the police code of ethics. So, say, “Yeah, I appreciate your comments and I totally respect them, however, this is what we’re going to do based on the information that I have gleaned.” So that’s about being impartial.


Tip number four, and this is an old one really but it’s still really relevant, provide evidence-based responses to interview questions using the STAR technique. So what I mean by that is not saying, if they ask you a question, “Can you give an example of when you solved a difficult problem under pressure?” And you said, “Well, if that situation arose, this is what I would do.” You wouldn’t get many marks for that.

You have to say, “Yes, I’ve already been in this situation before and this is what I’ve done.” Okay, so that’s about giving evidence-based responses. And my advice is to use STAR technique when structuring your responses. So STAR stands for situation, task, action, result. So you explain what the situation was that you had to deal with, then you explain the task, what did you have to do. “So we had to do this in order to achieve the end goal. This is the action that I took and then this was the end result.” And make sure the end result is always positive following yours and others’ actions.

So, SITUATION, TASK, ACTION, RESULT and when you’re practicing for the competency based interview, you should carry out mock interviews, which is my next tip. I’ll come on to that in a second. But in your mind, you should have STAR: situation, task, action, result and there you’re structuring your responses in the correct manner and you’re covering everything that you need to do in order to give yourself the best chance of getting the highest marks possible.


So, tip number five is mock interviews. My advice is to not go to the interview without having carried out at least two mock interviews.

So, I’m gonna give you a couple of questions to practice in a second but what I mean by a mock interview is getting either a friend or a relative to sit in front of you and ask you the questions and then you respond to them. Now, when you do a mock interview, you’re in a safe environment. You’re not being assessed but it gives you the chance to respond to interview questions and demonstrate good interview technique. Place the palms of your hands facing down on top of your knees, sit upright, smile, and engage with the person who’s asking you the questions. And this will give you more confidence so when you go along to the competency based interview, you’re fully prepared and it’s not the first time that you’ve started responding to these questions because don’t forget, you’ve got a certain amount of time to respond to these questions so you want to fill up your time and make sure you cover all of the different elements that are being assessed, which again is the core competencies.

So, make sure you carry out two mock interviews and I’ll also tell you in a second where you can go to practice a mock interview or find out more about how to pass both the competency based interview and also the final interview if you have to do one.


I just mentioned about interview questions. My advice, during your preparation, is be prepared for the following interview questions.


Describe a time when you’ve supported a vulnerable person or a group of people.

So, describe a time when you have supported a vulnerable person or a group of people, okay. So it might be somebody that you know at work or outside of work or even a group of people. You’ve taken ownership and you’ve helped them out to sort out this issue.

Don’t forget, situation, task, action, result covers all of the different elements and follow the core competencies.


Describe when you have used your initiative in a situation.

So, when have you used your initiative in a situation to resolve a problem?


Describe a time when you’ve taken responsibility for solving a difficult problem.


Describe a time when you’ve assisted somebody to overcome a difficult situation or problem.

So, the third one is about taking responsibility for solving a difficult problem yourself and then helping other people as well. So these are the first four questions that I want you to prepare for. There are more questions that I recommend you get ready for, which again, I’ll tell you where to get for in a second but those are the ones that I want you to practice during a mock interview.


Be prepared for probing questions. Okay, really important. A lot of people who go to police assessment centre that forms part of the national police officer selection process are not prepared for these.

A probing question, you give a response to the interview question and then the interviewer might say to you:

“Well, how did that situation make you feel?

“Upon reflection, would you do something different next time if the same situation arose again?”

“Why do you think the other person reacted as they did?”

“Did you feel you coped well with the situation?”

That’s all about reflecting and analysing your own performance. So there’s a whole host of different probing questions that you can be prepared for so it’s about having your responses ready but then also being open for probing questions.

Probing questions are good because the interviewer is trying to get more information out of you. So again, during the mock interview, you can practice for those as well.


So, we’ve covered seven. My advice, and this is genuine advice, is to invest in your own development. Let’s assume you’re fully trained up as a police officer. You’re earning approximately £30,000 a year. That’s a decent salary. You’ve got a good pension, a great, secure job.

So, when you’re preparing for the police selection process, it’s worth investing not just your time but also a bit of money in getting yourself as fully prepared as you possibly can be.

So we’ve written a book, “How to Become a Police Officer.” If you click the link below the video right now, it’ll take you through to our website where you can get a copy of this. You can also get access, instant access to online training courses as well so you can start learning and improving within a few seconds of clicking the button below the video. This a great book, really good reviews and it’s been helping people for many years to get past the police officer selection process.

We also run a number of training courses, which is the whole reason why I created this video because, if you remember, someone who attended the training course asked for our top tips. Well, we’ve got a whole host of tips to give you and advice which we cover through our one-day police officer training course. If you go to the website, policecourse.co.uk, and again, I’ll put it in the content below this video, if you click the link, it will take you through to a page and you can come and spend a whole day with us and learn how to pass the police selection process.

I genuinely hope that those tips have helped you. We’ve got so much more to give you. Please, I would really appreciate it if you gave the video a thumbs up. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel as well. And if you’re going through selection process or if you’d like me to create a video for you, please put it in the comments box below the video here on YouTube and I’ll create a video for you as well. So yeah, I wish you all the very best in your pursuit to becoming a police officer and thank you very much for watching.


Learn how to pass the Police Officer selection process on-the-go by getting a free copy of the How to Become a Police Officer audiobook.

How to Become a Police Officer Audiobook

4 thoughts on “Police Officer Selection Process – 7 Top Tips

  1. Kate says:

    Hi, some really useful tips here, can this also be applied to a DDO role as well? Think the mock interviews idea is brilliant and will certainly be giving that a go to help me feel more comfortable if I am succesful. Regards.

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Kate,

      We are glad you found this useful. To be completely honest, we aren’t sure about whether this applies to a DDO. We’d estimate that DDO is much more similar to that of a prison officer or probation officer, but you’d need to check with your local constabulary for confirmation!


      The How2Become Team

  2. Kehinde Oyegunle says:

    These tips are great . I have gone in for re deployment and I am just looking in other areas of employment within the Police service.

    • Jacob Senior says:

      Hi Kehinde,

      Great to hear that you’re examining your options. We’d love to hear how you get on!

      Kind regards,
      The How2Become Team.

Comments are closed.