Preparing For Police Recruitment Final Interview

Preparing For Police Recruitment Final Interview

One of the services I have been successfully providing for a number of years is coaching for the police recruitment final interview process.

Depending on the force the interviews generally last between 45 and 75 minutes and are rightly very demanding. While you can game play the College of Policing SEARCH National Police Assessment Centre (all Home Office forces have to run this for their potential recruits) by learning and applying the rules for each exercise, the final interview is different.

The final interview is where the assessors want to know more about you and your motivation for wanting to be a police officer. After all, in financial terms alone, across a full term career, you are potentially going to cost them over £2 Million. And if you’re not the right fit for what they want for their communities you’ll be hard to get rid of unless you prove to be completely unsuitable for the role.

To give you and idea of the depth and breadth of what forces look for during the final interview this is what part of the Lancashire Constabulary interview guide looks like complete with my comments in italics.

If you have any questions about this or feel as though you might benefit from my coaching for this part of the recruitment process you can contact me via phone or email (see top of this web page) or book one of my interview coaching services via this Bluelight website page.

You can also get support from 17,000 Members in the Bluelight Facebook Group HERE

Police Officer Interview Guide


At your interview with Lancashire Constabulary for the Police Officer role you will be asked a range of questions and it is important that you prepare fully for this interview.

This guide has been designed to help you prepare for the interview and to give you an insight in to what to expect during and after the interview.

Interview Format

The interview you will undertake for the police officer role with be comprised of different question categories which are as follows:

The Candidate

Initially we will be asking questions about you. We want to know more about your skills, attributes and values.

To help prepare in this area we suggest you:

  • Consider what you do well
  • Consider which areas you need to develop
  • Assess your strengths and development areas
  • Consider what is important to you
  • Consider what you find challenging
  • Review how others may perceive you

While it might sound obvious, you’d be surprised at the number of people I coach who haven’t prepared for the first question, which will be along the lines of, ‘On your application form you have already told us something about you, this is your opportunity to tell us more, please tell us more about you.’ From here I expect they will ask more specific questions to cover the above (unless you cover it in your initial answer)

This is your opportunity to pitch the you that answers all of the above questions. It requires preparation and practice as the answers you provide will set the tone for the rest of the interview (if this was a comfortable set of questions to answer you’ll feel more confident).

The Police Officer role and Lancashire Constabulary

As you are applying to be a police officer at Lancashire Constabulary, we need to be assured you know about the role and the challenges that this will bring.

To help prepare in this area we suggest you:

  • Research exactly what a police officer does
  • Consider the implications of being a police officer
  • What aspects of policing particularly appeal to you

During this phase a common question that the assessors will be thinking, but won’t comment on or ask aloud is, ‘would I have this person on my team and will they fit into the force culture?’ For this reason your answer should be more than just repetition from the force website.

Research – how have you researched this and what did you find? Even if you are a PCSO or Special there is much you can do to demonstrate that you understand the role and what is involved. For Lancashire I’d expect you to know all about the role of an ‘Early Action Officer,’ as this is where you might be placed in your first few years.

Implications – A question around this will require more than, ‘shifts, leave restrictions and 24/7’ as an answer. I would expect you to have researched this by speaking to officers to find out what might affect you during your career. For example, a good (and topical) answer would have you exploring how mental health issues might affect you and what support services are available.

Aspects that appeal? – More than just fast cars, blue lights and bringing criminals to justice (although nothing wrong with the latter!). Here is your opportunity to demonstrate how you have thought through your strengths (the first question) and how they link in with particular roles or functions within the service. If you can evidence this all the better.


Throughout the interview we will be assessing your performance in line with the Values of Lancashire Constabulary. Additionally, in this area of the interview we will be exploring in detail:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity

To help you prepare in this area we suggest you:

  • Gain a good understanding of the values of Lancashire Constabulary and how you personally demonstrate them
  • Focus in detail on the two identified values and be prepared to answer questions on them at the interview

This is where the assessors will want to get to the heart of what makes you tick. Expect probing questions on:

  • What these values mean to you personally?
  • How you have demonstrated these values in the past?
  • Why it is so important for officers to display these values in all they do?

I would also expect you to be presented with a case study which contains a moral / ethical dilemma (even if Lancashire don’t present you with one, there are many forces that have built these into their final interview).

There are a number of models you can utilise to answer them such as an adapted version of the police conflict management model. No matter how excellent your answer is, if I were one of the assessors I would probe it to test your congruence (is this the real you or a pre-prepared ‘mask?’).


In this part of the interview you will be asked competency based questions and you are expected to provide specific recent examples in line with each question. They will be in respect of:

  • Working with Others
  • Leadership – Openness to Change

To help you prepare in this area we suggest you:

  • Review the Policing Professional Framework (PPF) in relation to the Personal Qualities required of a Constable. The PPF can be found on the Skills for Justice Website
  • Consider examples from your recent work, home or social life that demonstrate each competency area

Lancashire have been very good in telling you the competencies the questions are likely to be related to.

If you think about the role it is likely you will be going into (Early Action Officer) it is highly likely that they will be looking for an answer where you can demonstrate:

  • Innovation
  • Creativity
  • People based problem solving – how you enabled someone else’s problem to be solved through a variety of resources (other people). This isn’t about how you went about choosing a new car or a university course.
  • How you are able to make difficult decisions

Your Questions

You will be asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview

To help you prepare in this area we suggest you:

  • Consider what you would like to know about any aspect of the process
  • Consider what you would like to know about any aspect of the role

When preparing for the competency element of the interview or if you intend to provide a specific example you should use the STAR model to structure your response.

Situation – set the scene – State clearly what the example is about. In this area you should provide the interview panel with a brief overview of the situation focusing on what the interviewer needs to know.

Task – within the situation what was your role, what did you set out to achieve? This could be your objective or goal.

Action – this is the most detailed part of your response when you must provide the interview panel with specific and detailed evidence. To help you prepare this area you should consider:

  • What? e.g. what you did
  • Who? e.g. who was involved
  • When? e.g. when did it happen
  • Why? e.g. why did you take the action
  • How? e.g. how you reacted
  • Where? e.g. where the incident happened

Result – what was the outcome? What did you learn? In hindsight would you have done anything differently?

This is really good advice. However, now you have it the assessors will expect you to demonstrate these points in your answer.

I’d re-order the questions so that they flow in line with the National Decision Model as well as chronologically:

Starting with, ‘In my role as….’

  • When….
  • Where….
  • Who….
  • What…. As in a detailed description of what the issue / problem was
  • How…. As in, how others were reacting to the problem, how it was affecting them and others including yourself and how it was affecting performance
  • What…. As in, what did you consider before you took action. Your options, the risk associated with each option and the rationale for your final decision
  • What…. As in, what exactly did you do (no vague claims such as, ‘I approached the situation calmly,’ – how exactly did you do this?)
  • How…. As in, how did you monitor what happened once you made a decision and implemented it

The outcome does not have to be something that demonstrates how you should be awarded a commendation or award. Some of the best answers are ones where things didn’t work out but the situation was better for your intervention. From here you can demonstrate how you learned from the experience and how you would do something differently next time. If it all went exactly to plan you’ll be stuck to answer these two questions.

Think about the role you’re being interviewed for – rarely does anything that happens in the police go to the original plan. Flexibility, resilience and determination are what makes the difference – can you demonstrate this?

Interview Tips

  • You must ensure that you arrive for the interview on time – plan your journey in advance
  • During the interview, ensure you listen to and answer the question. With regards to competency questions in particular, listen to the specific question and ensure your response aligns to the question
  • Remember the interview panel can only score you on what you say; do not assume the panel know anything about the situation or task you are describing
  • If you did something say ‘I’. If you worked as part of a team, say ‘we’
  • Be relaxed and don’t rush your responses – make sure you provide all the required evidence
  • If you are unsure of a question you should ask the panel to repeat it
  • If you cannot think of an answer to a specific question, you can ask to come back to that question at the end of the interview
  • Remember you are being marked throughout the interview about what you say and how you conduct yourself

What to expect at the interview

  • Your interview panel will be comprised of a Senior Police Officer and a HR trained member of police staff or another police officer
  • Prior to the start of the interview there will be a short introduction conducted by a member of the interview panel
  • Water will be provided at the interview
  • The interview will last approximately 45 minutes
  • Throughout the interview both panel members will ask questions and take notes

We wish you well with your interview

Me too! But if you’re not prepared? I’ll have my fingers crossed for you.

Don’t forget – you can also get support from 17,000 Members in the Bluelight Facebook Group HERE

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