If you are attending an assessment for a job as a prison officer, one of the key testing categories is ‘Role Play’. Role play will focus on your ability to make good decisions based on limited information. In this blog, we’ll show you some of the types of competency question you should expect, and give you some great tips on how to answer them. With the help of our guide to the prison officer 2015 role play questions, you should have no problem gaining employment as a prison officer.
Role Play Questions
To begin with you will be given a briefing pack, which will outline a particular scenario. You’ll be expected to pick up particular clues from the information given, which will dictate how you are meant to respond to the situation. You will be judged against 8 behavioral competency concepts, any number of which could be assessed in any of the questions you will encounter.
- Effective Communication
- Persuading and Influencing
- Drive and Resilience
- Relationships and Team Building
- Respecting Others
- Environmental Safety
In our first scenario, you are the manager of a retail centre. A member of your staff, who will be played by the role play actor/interviewer, approaches you and tells you that another member of staff has been making racist comments about her. She is feeling very upset and feels threatened by the alleged abuse. She would like to make a complaint.
How to deal with this scenario:
This scenario will test the competency of your communication skills, as you need to use them to clarify the details of the situation before making a judgement. Therefore, the first thing you need to ask is-
‘Hello, thank you for coming to see me today. I understand that you have had a bad experience? I’d like to explore what has happened. Please can you tell me exactly what has happened to you?’
Don’t forget that you are not just being tested on your verbal skills, but on your physical communication skills too. You need to present yourself as a calming and reassurance presence for the distressed staff member. Use nods, eye contact and hand gestures as a way of demonstrating this. After the staff member has explained the situation, you can ask questions such as:
- ‘That must have been terrible for you, are you okay for me to ask you some questions about the situation? If at any time you feel uncomfortable please stop me and we will take a break.’
- ‘What did the person say to you?’
- ‘When and where did this happen?’
- ‘How did that make you feel?’
- ‘Have they said anything like this to you before?’
- ‘Are you aware of anybody else receiving the same treatment?’
This will give an overview of the initial facts of the situation, and help you to make a judgement. You should then demonstrate your ability to relay this judgement to the staff member.
‘Thank you for the information that you have provided me with today. I can assure you that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and a full investigation will be carried out. In the meantime, in order to protect you from any further issues, I will take you away from the staff member and allocate another supervisory member to keep a regular check on you. Please don’t hesitate to come and see me again if there are any more issues, or even if you just need to talk to someone.’
Hopefully the above scenario should give you some idea of what to expect from your role play assessment. To further aid you in this process, we have provided you with one more example role play below. This will test similar skills to the example listed above.
In our second scenario, you are working as a new prison officer. A prisoner, who will be played by the assessor, has been breaking the rules by bullying new inmates and swearing at other prisoners. It is your responsibility to talk to him about his behavior, to try and amend it. He is a relatively new inmate himself and has been finding it difficult to settle into prison life.
How to deal with this scenario:
This scenario will test your competency in communicational, caring and influencing skills, as you need to clarify all of the details of the situation and why the inmate is behaving in a particular way, in order to make a judgement, therefore the first thing you should ask is:
‘Hi, thanks for coming to see me. I’d like to talk to you about an issue that has been brought to my attention. It’s been noticed that you’ve been bullying some of the new inmates and also swearing at other prisoners. What’s been making you act in this manner?’
At this point, the prisoner breaks down crying. He is clearly upset about something. In this instance, it is important that you demonstrate a ‘caring’ nature.
‘Hey, what’s the problem? Tell me what’s on your mind and how you’re feeling? I fully understand that this is difficult for you, but you need to talk and get things off your chest.’
The prisoner tells you that he has recently received a letter from his girlfriend at home telling him that their relationship was over. He is angry about this, and therefore has started taking it out on the other inmates. Now you will have to demonstrate a firm, but empathetic attitude towards his issue.
‘Oh no, that’s terrible news, and I’m really sorry to hear that. I can understand the anger that you must be feeling. However, as you can appreciate, your actions towards other prisoners aren’t acceptable. It’s at times like this that you need the support of other people, and you can only gain that support by treating people with respect. Can you understand that?’
If the prisoner doesn’t agree with you, then you need to demonstrate your resilience, by further explaining the situation. Once you have brought him round to your way of thinking, you can help him.
‘You are clearly going through a difficult time. I’m here to talk to you whenever you need it. Instead of shouting at other prisoners, come and sit down with me and talk about your feelings. Does that sound okay to you?’
Always remember that being a prison officer is about providing appropriate support to prisoners, not about shouting at them or punishing them for their crimes.
You can find more competency based questions HERE