The Assessment Centre is probably one of the most nerve racking experiences you will engage in throughout this process. Why? Well simply put it will most probably be alien to you in terms of a process for a job and it feels like you are under scrutiny from start to finish. Before I go into the detail as to what to expect for the assessment centre I wanted to make you aware of a few top tips that you need to note for on the day.
- Arrive in plenty of time. The assessment centre will not wait for you and there is a fair bit of clerical work required to be completed by the staff such as copying your ID documents, medical forms, getting forms etc. This takes time especially if a number of candidates arrive at the same time.
- ID Documents. Make sure you bring your Driving License, Passport and 2 utility bills as proof of address. You will not be allowed to take the assessment without verifying your identity.
- You are not allowed to take any notes into the assessment centre so I would suggest leaving them at home.
- You will not be allowed to use your phone whilst on the assessment floor so make sure it is switched off.
- You will be assessed against the personal qualities of a police constable from within the Policing Professional Framework
The assessment centre is made up of three stages;
- Written Exercise
- Situational Judgement Test
- Competency Based Interview
I will now take you through each of these stages one by one.
You will be assessed against the following competencies;
- Decision Making
- Openness To Change
- Service Delivery
- Serving The Public
- Working With Others
- Written Communication
The exercise is 20 minutes long. You will receive a task and two information memos which will highlight particular issues/problems that relate to your task. You will then be expected to document your responses to the issues raised in order to provide a satisfactory solution to the problem.
You should be using around 1 side of A4 paper to deliver your response. Keep it concise and be specific. You need to offer solutions and not re-itterate the issues. This exercise is marked by an english teacher so your responses must be well written and demonstrate a clear grasp of the english language.
- No paragraphs
- No capital letters
- Poor punctuation
- Poor Grammar
- Illegible (They need to be able to read your response)
- Repeating the issues and not offering any solutions
- American Spellings
- Text talk (U c it dint luck gd)
- PRINT USING CAPITAL LETTERS - There is nothing grammatically incorrect so you cannot loose any marks
- Bullet Points or Numbered Lists - You then don't need to worry about capital letters, paragraphs or even full stops. Again nothing is grammatically incorrect so you cannot be marked down
You can make notes throughout the exercise but remember this, any notes you make must be handed in and they will be marked to the same standards, correct spellings, punctuation etc. You can score extra points but more often than not rough notes will mark you down. If you do not want any notes to be marked then put one diagonal line through the page or section and it will be ignored as if it never existed. Forget to line through it and you may pay the price.
Situational Judgment Test
The situational judgement test lasts 50 Minutes and you will be asked 25 questions within that time. Thats 2 minutes per question so it should allow you plenty of time to complete the test fully. You do not want to leave blank answers as you will not score any points at all. In describing what the situational judgment test is, I find it is much easier just to give an example of the test so its clear as to what you will be faced with.
You have an established clothing store who’s shop front is now covered in litter as a result of a fast food outlet opening next door. You see the two shop owners arguing over the situation.
- Walk past and ignore them, they will resolve it between them
- Ask a colleague to speak with them as you are running late
- Clean up the litter yourself and leave them to resolve their differences
Speak with both owners to try and come to a solution that everyone will be happy with
You have to decide how effective each of those responses are in dealing with the situation that you have been presented with on a scale of 0 - 5
0 INEFFECTIVE OR COUNTER PRODUCTIVE
1 MARGINALLY EFFECTIVE
2 PARTIALLY EFFECTIVE
3 MODERATELY EFFECTIVE
4 MOSTLY EFFECTIVE
5 HIGHLY EFFECTIVE
Every question you are asked will have an option to mark on a matrix answer sheet as below. So if you feel response A is Ineffective or Counter Productive you would place a mark on Row A under column 0 as shown in the marking table below. You would repeat this for each response of A through to D for each question.
Now one thing that is really important, don't dwell on your responses too much as each element is marked individually. For example you are not required to get A right for B to be marked as correct. They are all completely independent.
If you mark the answer correctly you will score maximum points, if you mark one either side of the correct response you will still score some points. If you are any further that one either side away from the correct answer then you will score no points for that specific element.
If you run out of time it is worth just placing some makes on the remaining questions as you have a good chance of scoring points.Leaving them blank will mean no points are scored.
Competency Based Interview
This is the part that most candidates feel under pressure and stressed over. Preparation is the key for this element of the assessment. Having good examples that you can call on when asked the question is critical to being successful at the interview stage. Remember nobody wants you to fail the process but often nerves get the better of people at interview so be confident and ensure that you are ready for the occasion. Be confident in your examples, make sure you are able to talk through the specifics and be clear as to what happened and specifically what you did.
The interview will last 20 minutes where you will be asked four questions. You will be given 5 minutes to answer each question. If you have not finished your response within the 5 minutes given you will be stopped and the assessor will move on to the next question. You will be asked one question one each of the following areas;
- Openness To Change
- Service Delivery
- Working With Others
Every response should have a good structure. They should have a Start Middle and an End as you are telling a story to the assessor. If you dot say it during the interview then it never happened and you cannot be scored on something you didn't say. The assessor's will not assume anything.
If you want a good pneumonic to get you through all of your responses there are lots out there that will work in a very similar way. The one I favour and use personally is as follows;
- Actions Taken
Be clear about the specific situation, what was it that you had to deal with or resolve?
This is a great memory jogger to ensure that you talk about the difficulties and challenges you were facing with the specific situation you have just outlined.
Tell the assessor what you did, why you did what you did and how you did it. Be specific, do not talk about what others did, this is about you and you only. Communicate what you considered as well even if you didn't actually take those actions. Your considerations demonstrate you were evaluating other options throughout.
We all love to know what happened and what the outcome was so make sure you get it across. No one wants to miss the punch line.
What have you learnt, what would you do differently, was there any long lasting changes brought about as a result of your actions.
Be confident and you will pass the assessment centre, prepare well and practice your examples so that you are ready to talk for 5 minutes on each area structuring your responses as I have outlined above.