This is probably going to be my longest post as it covers such a long amount of time, but I thought I would start off with a post about the recruitment process including the timescale from my initial application to receiving an unconditional offer. I wish I'd had one of these blogs to follow when I started the whole process myself so hopefully it's useful for people who are in the middle of/are thinking of applying! I dropped out of my first year of University in February 2016 to pursue my dream of becoming a Police Officer and waited several months for recruitment to open in my local force. Around 5 and a half months after my initial application, here I am to tell the tale. I plan on blogging through my training and hopefully on the job as well! Here's how it all went, starting from the very beginning!
Wednesday 22nd June 2016 – Application for role of Police Constable for Dyfed Powys Police successfully submitted.
Thursday 14th July 2016 – Successfully at shortlisting stage of application due to successful Competency Based Questionnaire. Invite to Interview at HQ in Camarthen.
Thursday 28th July 2016 – 1:30pm, interview at HQ in Camarthen. Left early and arrived 45 minutes early in my excitement. Found HQ and parked up in visitor carpark, desperate for a wee but nowhere to go without booking myself in. Didn’t want to be seen to be too keen, so sat in the car for half an hour going over my notes. For the whole hour and a half journey I had recited my answers to questions I was expecting and for my 10-minute presentation on the role of Police Constable in Dyfed Powys Police. Went in to reception and signed in, put on my pass and sat with other candidates, all as nervous as each other. We were greeted and taken into a waiting room where we were briefed and asked to complete forms that gave a long list of different character traits and asked us to circle three which we thought were most important to the role. We completed two of these forms then were called to our doors. Each of us was interviewed in a separate room, and we were to knock and enter. My two interviewers were two male officers, and I can’t remember what roles they were, I remember one being fairly young and one more middle-aged. We started with the presentation, which I stood up for. They both took notes the whole time I spoke, and this really helped with my nerves as they barely looked up from the paper, so I could just focus on what I was saying rather than my body language. I sat down after what I felt was a rushed-through version of my presentation I had so meticulously planned. The younger man lead the interview while the other took notes of what I was saying and asked questions for me to expand on my answers. They asked a lot of questions and I, luckily, found that my answers came easily for all of them. The competency based questions fit perfectly with the examples I had planned from my everyday life and working life. They nodded and agreed with things I said, saying positive things like “very good” after most of my answers. I felt positive and even had a little bit of a joke with them at the end of the interview. I left feeling like it had gone relatively well, but was very aware of the fact that I was the youngest person attending the interview, and I think it was by quite a long margin.
10th August 2016 – Booked into familiarisation day for Assessment Centre after finding out I had been successful at interview. Very exciting moment but I also knew there was a long way to go yet.
18th August 2016 – Familiarisation day at HQ, Camarthen. We all signed in and waited to be taken through to a teaching room where we were advised on how the day would commence. We went through each different stage of the AC and what to expect, as well as what was expected of us. It was a very informative day and made me quite nervous for the AC. We watched examples of terrible role plays where the candidate had failed to meet any of the competencies and we were advised how this candidate failed. Obviously, not too much information could be relayed to us as to the specifics of the AC but overall, a very helpful day. I sat with a girl who was currently working in a foster home and had lots of experience with difficult people. She was telling me about scenarios she had faced that she would likely use in her competency interview during the AC. I, again, felt very young and inexperienced in comparison to the rest of the people in the room, however, I knew that I had some experiences that I could use as well and overall felt confident that I could give the AC a good go.
13th September 2016 – Thames Valley Police HQ, Reading.
The night before the Assessment Centre, mum drove us both up to Reading to the Premier Inn that we had booked ourselves into for the night. We had dinner at the service station (yuck) and bought snacks and magazines to take back to the room with us. We would have to leave fairy early the next morning to make the 30-ish minute drive from our hotel to the HQ, so I was anxious to get back to the room, do some last-minute revision for the day and get a good night’s sleep. Prior to this day, I had scoured the internet high and low for tips for the AC. I had practiced writing reports and done a bit of maths practice here and there, revised my Westshire Centre Pack back to front and practiced for the role play’s with mum on the way to Reading. Overall, I was feeling really nervous, especially after reading a load of horror stories on my iPad in bed that night of people who had thought they’d done well at AC then failed, or people who had passed but had not got the 60% required for Dyfed Powys. It took me a long time to get to sleep that night, my brain wouldn’t turn off. I woke up super early on the 13th (unlucky for some), showered, put on my interview gear and looked through my notes while I did my hair and makeup. I could barely eat but managed to get through a flapjack in the car on the way to the HQ. We missed a turning in the busy traffic of Reading and ended up on back roads all the way. Fortunately, we weren’t late and I wasn’t the last to arrive. We all waited outside the big white building and chatted about where we’d put as our preference areas, what we thought the day was going to be like and our expectations to all fail miserably. Everyone was really lovely, but none of them were from my interview group, I saw a couple of familiar faces later on as my group left and they arrived though! We were lead into a room where we were briefed on who would be doing what parts of the AC first. I wanted to do the role plays and interview first as I knew these held the most weight, and were going to be the most difficult. Just my luck, I was placed in the group doing the written exercises first. We were taken out of the building to further building, a small ‘out house’ style place with several rooms. We left all of our bags and belongings and went in to complete the tests. This took about 3 hours, although I completely lost track of all time during! I didn’t really know what to make of them except that they were difficult, challenging and really made you think. I thought I had completely messed up on report writing due to losing track of information as it was being given to us. But everything else seemed to go OK. Next we were allowed a short (3 minute) toilet break and I had a drink and a couple of bites of a breakfast bar. I had a horrible headache and in my concentration for the written tests, I felt like I had completely forgotten everything I had learnt for the Role Play and Interview. We were to do our role plays next. We were taken and briefed for these, the people who briefed us all through the day were so lovely, helpful and calmed our nerves so much. We chatted until the role actors and assessors were back from their lunch break and then went through formalities. We were allocated numbers and these corresponded to doors. When the first roleplay started, we were to read through an information pack quickly and make any notes we needed to take in with us. I wrote notes for the first one but just read through the info for the rest. All the packs contained was a brief history of events and an overview of the person we would be dealing with. We went through the motions of all four Role Plays, some I managed to resolve quickly and others I had more difficulty finding a resolution to but managed to say the right things in order to keep the actors happy, I think! After these were finished we all breathed a sigh of relief before we were taken into our 20-minute competency interviews. By this point I was knackered, physically and emotionally drained from the constant stress and pressure of the day and felt like the interview would be a complete write off. I barely even remember the questions I was asked let alone the answers I gave. I felt like I stumbled over myself many times and my examples were nowhere near as strong as they were in the Interview I had passed before the AC day. All I remember clearly was a wasp flying in through the open window and hovering around between me and the interviewer, who didn’t look up from his scorecard the whole time and didn’t notice it, so I fidgeted around and tried to waft it away without him thinking I was having a funny moment. We all had our debrief and were told what we couldn’t tell anyone about the day (the specifics, basically!) and we all left together. We were all as shocked as each other about how fast the day had gone but how stressful those 5 hours were. “5 hours of hell” was a phrased used by not just one person and I completely agree! We joked about how we all thought we’d definitely failed, and talked about how we wouldn’t be able to apply for another 6 months as if we had all already received rejection emails! Mum picked me up and I slept the whole journey home from Reading, trying to fight off my horrendous headache.
Monday 26th September 2016 – This was my first day at a new temporary job that I thought would perfectly fill the gap between the present date and the proposed intake of April 2017 that I expected to be in. It was absolutely horrendous, I was spoke to and treated like rubbish and had been basically lied to about what the job would entail. I sat in the freezing cold, shed-like office that would supposedly be my base for the job and decided enough was enough. So, I stood up and told them I would not be continuing with the job as I was disappointed to have been mislead, thanked them for their time, got in my car and left. I got home pretty upset that the day had unravelled as it had, and was angry at myself for thinking this would be the ‘perfect opportunity’ to switch up my job before I joined the force. I told my mum and stepdad all about the day and they were just as angry as I was at how I had been treated and we were all just pretty peed off, that’s when my phone vibrated indicating that I had received an email. I looked and could hardly believe what I saw, an email from Dyfed Powys Police titled ‘Police Officer Application’. I knew that this would either be telling me I had passed or failed the assessment centre. I could barely bring myself to open it as mum stared over my shoulder. We both screamed when the first line read “Congratulations we are pleased to inform you that you have been successful at both the interview stage and the National Police SEARCH Assessment Centre for Police Constable. We are therefore in a position to make you a conditional offer of appointment as a Police Constable within Dyfed Powys Police.” It stated the conditions I would have to pass in order for this to become an unconditional offer and the proposed intake of April 2017. I cried in shock, happiness and complete disbelief of the timing of the email that had taken the worst day and turned it into one of the best days I’ve had to date! I rang my boyfriend while he was at work to tell him about the fail of a first day in my new job and the results of the assessment centre, and then rang my sister to tell her all about my rollercoaster of a day as well. I could hardly believe it!! I had passed the Assessment Centre!! I was so much closer to the job of my dreams and all my hard work had paid off.
Thursday 29th September 2016 – I arrived at HQ for 3:30 for my fitness test and biometrics. We were taken through reception and had our fingerprints taken, all the staff were really nice and making jokes with us, reassuring us that we’d all pass the fitness for sure. We were rallied up and taken into a big sports hall where we were briefed on how the Bleep Test would work. We warmed up together, doing stretches, and then were asked to run to Level 1 of the Bleep Test as part of the warm up. This was easy enough and made me confident for the test. To say it was easy wouldn’t really be the truth, the pressure of the situation definitely made it feel difficult, although reaching each end of the hall before the beep wasn’t that challenging at all. We all encouraged each other as we ran if anyone seemed to be struggling and all managed to pass first time. By this time, I was starting to recognise some familiar faces from each stage of the application process. We were taken back to a holding room where we filled some forms and chatted amongst ourselves about which areas we’d applied to, what intakes people thought we’d be in, at which point I realised there was a December training intake that we weren’t informed about that some of us might be on due to geographical demands. I didn’t think much of this as I had been told I would be considered for April intake. We then had swabs taken for Biometrics, and the nurse told me this was basically to make sure our DNA wasn’t pulled up in crime scenes we attended on the job. This made it feel so real, ‘on the job’, on the job that I was so close to starting!
Monday 17th October 2016 – After being signed off medically by my GP and sending off my medical forms, drugs testing day arrived and I once again returned to HQ. We read through briefings and what we would be tested for and one by one went in to have chunks of hair chopped off and sent off for testing. We never heard back about these results, meaning I had passed (as I fully expected!) I remember laughing at a current PCSO/Special (I never caught which she was) who said she’d been at a job involving a cannabis farm in someone’s house recently and was worried she’d show up positive for weed on the test! This recruitment process fills you with so much self-doubt! Sometime between this date and the next entry I had my medical examination, which went fine and I found out I had perfect 20/20 vision and excellent hearing, despite thinking that the hearing test had gone awfully as I was sure I was hearing beeps that didn’t exist!
Friday 4th November 2016 – Just as I was about to leave for work, I received a call from an Unknown Number. It was the lady from the workforce planning team who had been at all of our stages at HQ and she told me she had good news for me and asked if I was available to talk. She said they were happy to offer me an unconditional offer of employment to the force as Police Constable and that training would start on the 5th December, in a month’s time! She told me where I would be based and that I would receive my unconditional offer along with other information in an email on Monday.
Monday 7th November 2016 – I received my unconditional offer of employment in writing along with lots and lots of forms to fill in and return, and a list of online modules that we would have to complete prior to our start date for training. I booked myself in for accommodation as I live pretty far from HQ (about an hour and a half drive) for the first section of training and let everyone at work and my employer know that I would only be sticking around for a few more weeks! Everyone was so excited for me to be in the December intake instead of having to wait for April like I was expecting and I’m so happy to be well on my way to becoming a Police Officer in Training at the age of 19!
Tuesday 15th November 2016 – Another journey back to HQ for Uniform Fitting and my first Hep Jab. Putting the uniform on made me feel like a real-life Police Officer. It was quite a surreal feeling to be honest, stood there in my high vis with the bullet and stab vest on, kit belt around my waist. I had to go for the smallest hat they had available because I have a pea head, and will need altered trousers (long leg problems!) but overall it was pretty successful. Everyone back home was disappointed I didn’t get any pictures of myself fully kitted out! I’m sure the novelty of the uniform will wear off, but for now, it’s sooo cool ;). Boots ordered and tried on, last shift at work at the end of this week and the holiday to NYC I had booked months and months ago for what is now the second week of training cancelled and I’m so ready to get to HQ and start! A week and a half to go.