What does the Police Now Assessment Centre involve?


Our assessment centre gives you an insight into the role of a detective or neighbourhood police officer on our national graduate programmes. It’s also a great opportunity for us to get to know you. Our best advice is to be yourself and enjoy the day. We are really looking forward to meeting you.


The day is split into three assessed exercises that can take place in any order. Applicants of the National Detective Programme will have to complete a written task in addition to these three exercises. We use a strengths-based selection process, through which we’ll be looking for evidence of the Police Now competencies. You will be assessed by different people in each exercise so that you meet a variety of assessors to ensure fairness and consistency throughout the day.

Supporting you during the Coronavirus pandemic

Our assessment centres are still going ahead, however we are now delivering the assessments as digital sessions during this time of restricted movement. We want to assure you that everything is being done to bring you a great alternative to face-to-face assessment and we have already received positive feedback from candidates who have been assessed in this way. Your Recruitment Officer is here to help guide you through the process to prepare and support you ahead of your assessment centre.


1. Strengths-based interview

A strengths-based interview focuses on your strengths and what you enjoy doing, rather than what you have previously done as you would find in a competency interview. A strength is something you enjoy, that you’re interested in, that engages you and you are naturally good at. Research shows that those who enjoy their jobs usually perform better in them and stay for longer.

2. Role play

Within the role play you will be presented with a realistic example of a situation you might encounter as a neighbourhood police officer or detective. Role plays test how you might approach a certain situation, associated with the role.

3. Virtual Reality task

During the virtual reality experience, you will be presented with scenarios and will respond to them as you would in the role of a neighbourhood police officer or detective.

Written task (National Detective Programme only)

If you are applying for our National Detective Programme – in addition to the other tasks, you will also need to complete a written task at the assessment centre. You will be presented with multiple sources of information and then set a written task that relates to what you’ve been given.

You will also have an opportunity to learn more about Police Now throughout the day, including what life is like as a detective or neighbourhood police officer and the impact our participants are already having on our national graduate programmes.



What will the strengths-based interview involve?

The strengths-based interview focuses on your strengths and what you enjoy doing, rather than what you have previously done as you would find with a competency interview. It means you’re less able to prepare rehearsed answers and that makes for a more animated and energised interview process.

The interview will consist of motivational alignment and strengths-based questions. Motivational questions will aim to see whether you are intrinsically motivated by the expected job role and Police Now. Ahead of your interview think about the work you would do as a detective or neighbourhood police officer on the Police Now programme, your commitment to our mission and values, and the impact the programme can have for society. We are passionate to find individuals that align with our mission, so we want to see that you have thought about why one of our programmes are right for you.

The strength-based questions will seek to understand your capability to do something, including how you would approach a certain situation. Some example questions;

What energises you?

Describe a successful day. What made it successful?

How do you stay motivated?

Within strengths-based interviews we are looking to gain a genuine insight into the personalities of candidates and to see whether you are a good fit for a role as a neighbourhood police officer or detective on the Police Now’s national graduate programmes.

Police Now work in partnership with Prospects and for further information about strengths-based interviews, check out their insightful page.

Tips for completing the strengths-based interview:

Take time before attending the assessment centre to research Police Now’s national graduate programmes and our mission.

We suggest you also consider your motivations for wanting to be part of our programme and why you think you would make a good neighbourhood police officer or detective – the more you research, the more you’ll be able to convey your knowledge and passion for Police Now.

We are looking for people that are enthusiastic and genuinely interested and in-line with Police Now’s mission.

You can offer examples when responding to questions, especially when those examples convey your strength and interest in the area. Examples can be from either your professional or personal life and if using them please be specific and include a good level of detail.

Relax, listen carefully to the questions, and answer each question as naturally as you can – try not to overthink your answers as often your initial thoughts are your strongest!

What will the role play involve?

The role play exercise will be split into two parts: a role play and self-reflection. Within the role play you will be presented with a real-life scenario that you may encounter as a detective or neighbourhood police officer.

Before the exercise begins an assessor will give you a full briefing so you know exactly what to expect and they will remain present throughout the whole role play to observe and review your assessment. The assessor will inform you once the role play is due to start and at this point an actor will enter the room. Please note you will not have an opportunity to restart the role play.

During the role play the assessor will want to see how you would approach each scenario, how you use the information you’ve been provided beforehand and how you would relate to the different people involved.

At the end of the exercise there will be an opportunity to debrief with the assessor so you can reflect on how the role-play went. It’s OK to get things wrong during the exercise, as long as you can identify them and explain to the assessor how you would do things differently next time.

Tips for completing the role play

Although it’s a role play exercise, we are not looking for you to act; we are looking for you to be yourself. We want to see how you would deal with the situation

Use your planning time well – be clear on what you want to achieve in the time that you have and consider how you can plan the start, middle and end of your role play. To accomplish this;

o Read through the brief clearly, and highlight key points.
o Think about how you can go in and have a positive start.
o Think about how you might build rapport during the exercise.
o How you will end and finalise the role play.

Lastly try to enjoy the role play, for many people it is a new experience.

What will the virtual reality (VR) involve?

Virtual reality (VR) means experiencing things through a computer-generated environment. It is an interactive environment that you will be placed in with total immersion and the freedom to walk around in order to interact with the virtual world, just as you would in real life.

This VR exercise is the closest you will get to experiencing the role as a neighbourhood police officer or a detective. You will have the opportunity to experience different environments where you will be immersed in the real-life experiences of participants on our national graduate programmes – this will include watching video content, listening to voice recordings, and recording voice notes.

At the start the assessor will help you get set up and put on your VR headset and give you a full briefing before you begin. You will have an opportunity to try out the VR headset to get comfortable with it before you begin. We recognise that a lot of people may never have experienced VR, but the goal is to create a fully immersive and life-like experience. This assessment will be a good indicator of how you would act as a neighbourhood police officer or detective as it also assesses how you would react under pressure.

We are not looking for how well you get on with the technology or that you really enjoy virtual reality. Instead it is the content of your responses that matter.

Tips for completing the virtual reality:

There is not much you can prepare ahead of virtual reality; the best preparation is to be yourself and complete the tasks as you would do naturally.

Listen carefully to the instructions given about what part is assessed and what is not.

There will be opportunity for you to acclimatise to the VR. Take this time to get comfortable and take in your surroundings and relax.

Technical tips:

The headset can accommodate glasses; however, you may choose to wear lenses for more comfort. If you have commitments that require you to wear particular cultural/religious dress, this will also be fine

Wear appropriate footwear (for example, avoid high-heeled shoes).

You may wish to avoid larger pieces of facial jewellery (for example, eyebrow or nose piercing) which may impact the comfort of wearing the headset.

In the unlikely event you feel uncomfortable during your VR experience, please notify the facilitator, who will remove you from the virtual world as soon as possible and make any necessary adjustments.

What will the written task involve?

During the National Detective Programme written exercise, you will be given multiple sources of information, which you are required to use to form a written response. The task is designed to assess your ability to absorb and process information and then formulate a written response as a result.

Detectives are required to source and manage multiple sources of information simultaneously. This requires a highly attentive attention to detail in communication. This skill is critical to several elements of the role including gathering statements, writing crime reports and preparing handover information. You need to be able to present the outputs of your analysis in a clear, thorough and often persuasive way to a wide range of collaborators and stakeholders.

Tips for completing the written task:

Read all the information and instructions you are given very carefully.

Plan your written responses and the points you want to make before going into detail.

Ensure you include as much detail, reasoning and explanation in your written responses.

Where possible, use examples to back-up any points you make.

What happens on the day at the Assessment Centre?

We want you to feel comfortable and able to perform your best at the assessment centre – we appreciate you may have traveled far to meet us.

When you first arrive at the venue you will meet someone from the Police Now team who will help you get settled into the day smoothly.

You will be given a timetable upon arrival which will inform you of when you will complete each exercise and will show you when you have breaks in between. Remember you will complete the three exercises in any order.

You will be taken to the candidate room where you will meet other applicants and this is where you will return to after each assessment.

Before you begin your exercises, you will attend a presentation introducing Police Now and our programmes by a member of the recruitment team.

There will be tea, coffee and water available all day.

Remember all exercises on the day are individual and you will not be competing against other candidates on the day.

Each of the exercises will be between 40 to 60 minutes in length.

Throughout the day if you have ANY questions at all there will be a member from the Police Now team to help answer any questions you may have.

What do I need to bring to the Assessment Centre?

On the day of the assessment centre it is essential you bring the following things with you:

1. Proof of identity

2. proof of address; and

3. any visa documentation and/or residency card if you are not a UK citizen so you can confirm your indefinite leave to remain and work in the UK.

Please see the proof of identity and address checklist attached for guidance on which documents will qualify for which force. . Please note your proof of address must match the address on your application form. If the addresses do not match please get in touch with us and we can easily change this for you.

Other information

Dress in business wear for the assessment centre, but make sure you are comfortable.

Please take note of the timings and location in your confirmation email. Our advice is to aim to arrive 15 minutes before your start time to ensure that you are signed in and ready to start on time.

Please plan your journey well in advance to keep costs to a minimum and check for any disruption to your planned route before leaving home.

What happens after the Assessment Centre?

After the assessment centre you will receive instructions for how to claim back your expenses. As a reminder, Police Now will reimburse reasonable travel costs up to £100 to enable you to travel to your assessment centre. It is advised to book tickets in advance so you can get the best price and benefit from advance booking savings. Please read the attached guide for further information on travel and hotel costs.

You will find out the result of the day within ten working days and you will get feedback regardless of the outcome.

The training academy dates will be confirmed with you by your Recruitment Officer. You would need to be available for the whole duration of the academy. Exact location and further information will be confirmed should you be successful after the assessment centre.

We wish you the best of luck at the assessment centre and look forward to meeting you soon.

Police Now Recruitment Team

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