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Application Form: Examples of Poor Applications

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The following 4 examples have been prepared to help candidates write a good application

If these were good examples no doubt they would all be copied :p

Q1. Try to remember an occasion when you had to deal with someone who was unhappy with the service they had been given or who felt unhappy with the way they had been treated. If possible, use an example where you had contact with the person over a period of time or on a number of occasions in order to sort out the problem

Describe the situation and why you think the person was unhappy.

When I worked for Supermarket an incident happened one day when I was working. I heard shouting coming from one of the checkouts. A customer was being abusive towards one of my staff, shouting and making threats.

Tell us exactly what you did in response to their concerns.

I approached the customer, as I am responsible for the checkouts. I told him to calm down, as I couldn’t sort things out of he was shouting. I remained calm, and maintained good eye contact until he calmed down. I then told him that I would sort out his problem to his complete satisfaction and my manager gave him a full refund, along with £5 of free vouchers which is company policy when we have a dissatisfied customer.

How did you know the person was happy with what you did for them?

Because they smiled and said thank you.

If you hadn’t acted as you did, what do you think would have been the likely consequence?

He would have continued to be angry.


In this example the candidate has failed to answer the questions asked.

Firstly, we still have no idea why the person is unhappy, which was asked for specifically. We also never find out what the candidate did to sort out the problem.

When you are asked for specific information, you must give it in order to score. If you don’t tell us what you did, you cannot score.

In this example we know they calmed the person down, but this question is very much about what you do to sort out the problem so you need to tell us specifically. Although it is tempting to tell us everything you did, and some things are needed before you can sort out the problem, the important thing is to focus upon the things that brought the end result.

Secondly, although it isn’t absolutely necessary to have a scenario where there has been contact over a period of time or on several occasions, you are likely to score better if you have a scenario of this nature. These extended scenarios give you a better chance of showing that you can engage with the customer and proactively sort out the problem.

It is also difficult to see who did what. The manager clearly gave the refund and the vouchers, and you cannot be awarded marks for things that other people have done. If you are just following a policy or instructions rather than acting on your won initiative you are likely to score more poorly.

Q2. Think of an example of an occasion when you have met someone and have shown respect for their lifestyle, culture or religious beliefs, even though they differed significantly from your own.

Tell us how the situation arose and how you and the other person differed.

Between 1999 and 2003 I worked for R.A. Rose Engineering at their site in Midtown, where I was shift supervisor having worked my way up from the shop floor. I was promoted because of my commitment and initiative. As part of my supervisor training I have received 2 days of diversity training which has allowed me to be sensitive to the needs of others. One of the workers on my shift had strong religious beliefs and although I too believe in God, I do not practice my religion openly (I don’t go to church or anything like that). He wanted time off to go to a major religious festival, but it was during our busiest period.

Which aspect of the difference did you find the most challenging (difficult) to deal with?

Nothing really, as I always treat everyone with respect and dignity. I have never had any problems with anyone, irrespective of their race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other lifestyle, culture or belief. I have been brought up in a multi-cultural society and think that everyone has the right to belief what they want.

Tell us what you did/ How did you adapt to account for how the other person may have felt?

I thought that I should treat him just the same as I would treat anyone else asking for time off. I spoke with my line manager (Miss Rachel Green) and we agreed that he should submit an application for leave in the usual way, and if possible we would accommodate him and he was very grateful.


In this example the candidate has made a number of errors. Firstly, you are not scored for giving dates and names. This just wastes the space you have available. The recruiter can ask you for such detail later in the process, they don’t need to see it at this stage.

Secondly, the candidate has made assertions about the wider skills and qualities they may have (I was promoted because of my commitment and initiative) Scorers are looking only for the competency being assessed, and in any event, telling them broadly that you possess a certain quality without giving precise behavioural evidence will not score. Next, this candidate writes about having been on a course in the subject area.

Courses or qualifications in the subject area are not scored, as scorers can only award scores for pieces of behaviour. In the next part of the question (the prompt about which aspect of the difference you found the most challenging (difficult) to deal with) the candidate has simply stated their attitude, which doesn’t answer the question. The scorer wants to know the key areas in which you differed.

Everyone will say that they always treat everyone with respect and dignity and have never had any problems with anyone. This question wants an example where you have had to think about the differences and act. If you haven’t come up with an example where you have been challenged in some way it is unlikely to give the kind of information needed. The final prompt asks how you adapted.

The candidate in this example has told us what they thought, but the question is after behaviours. Finally, the candidate tells about the involvement of their manager. The use of the word WE makes it difficult for scorers to see what the candidate was responsible for, and what their manager did. They needed to distinguish between the two and say clearly what they did.

Q3. Tell us about an occasion when you have taken the initiative to complete a task, even though it was not your job or responsibility.

What was the situation and why did you take the initiative

In my daily life, as the manager of a hotel I have to take the initiative all of the time. I have to deal with difficult customers, ensure staff are properly employed and motivated, and deal with the day to day tasks. I take the initiative to ensure the business is successful. I am the kind of person who has a lot of common sense, so I don’t need to be told what to do, I just get on and do it on a daily basis. I am an open and approachable person who gets on well with people. On one particular occasion I had to deal with a difficult customer who was complaining that his room was dirty and noisy (a wedding reception was going on in the ballroom below his room). He had an important business trip the next day and needed an early night.

Exactly what did you do and how did other people react?

I instructed reception staff to move the customer to a room on the back of the hotel. I believe that customer service is essential to long term business success and as I have extensive experience in a customer facing environment feel that I am used to taking the initiative in support of fully integrated customer solutions focused to their individual needs.


The question asks for an example which was not your job or responsibility. The candidate is quite clear that as manager it is his job to deal with difficult customers. The candidate spends the majority of their space telling us they don’t need telling what to do, and that they are customer focussed.

This will not attract a score because their own claims for being open and approachable or experienced in customer service are not evidence of their behaviour or competence. You only get rewarded for behaviours. This candidate also wants to blind the assessor with jargon: taking the initiative in support of fully integrated customer solutions to their individual needs.

Although we expect your application to be articulate with appropriate vocabulary, using corporate or business jargon will not advantage you, and may just use up valuable space. Finally, this candidate has given an example where what they did was fairly easy, was a single act (telling reception to move rooms) and not very challenging.

The question is looking for people who will do that bit extra to do a good job.

Q4. Think of an occasion when you were under a lot of pressure to do a number of jobs at the same time.

Tell us what things you had to do, which things you saw as the priority and why.

When I was university in my third year I was under a lot of pressure. I had my dissertation to complete, revision to do for exams and course work to complete. I also had a part time job, and my social life to maintain.

What order did you do these things in, and tell us in some detail why you chose this order.

During my time at university I developed good time management skills. I did the course work in the order that it was due in. I revised for my exams at the same time as I was doing my dissertation. I chose this order because these were the most important things to me. For my dissertation I did the project planning first, seeing where I had spare time. I then did the literature review, designed a methodology and carried out the research I needed to do. Finally I wrote the dissertation, checked it for spelling and submitted it. Each day I would go to lectures, use the afternoon to research in the library and then spent the veining writing up my dissertation. Took Wednesday of to play tennis as I think the exercise was good to counter the stress I was under.


The candidate was asked to describe an occasion when they had tasks to complete at the same time. This is important because the scorer wants to see how you decided which ones to give priority to. The question asks this specifically (Tell us what things you had to do, which things you saw as the priority and why).

Because the candidate didn’t answer these prompts specifically they will score poorly.

In this example the candidate has chosen a number of things they have to do, but they are not necessarily having to be done at the same time, so it solely becomes a test of organising their time, not necessarily how they prioritise. The candidate describes researching, writing and checking their dissertation. As this is the only order than things can be done in (you can’t check until you have written, and you can’t write before you know what to write) it doesn’t allow scorers to examine their choices.

Finally the candidate talks about a typical day and how they organised their time. The question asks for a specific occasion, which usually means a particular day or period. Again, scorers are looking for evidence of the rationale you used, and more general examples tend not to give the detail required to score.


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Wish I'd of seen this back in 2007 when I submitted my first failed application!

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Just writing to get ten posts

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Thanks, this was a big help! I've had my application accepted and I've been given a date to attend the AC.

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Thanks for this, I'm gonna save this for future reference! Now I know what to include and leave out!

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