I N T E R V I E W S in 2005!
view Competency Assessment topic all of the information on this page was written in 2005
A bit about me
In my previous job I worked for Gloucestershire County Highways, as a Clerical Officer, I had been working there for over 5 years, and was ready for a career change,
In the local paper I saw an advert for Police Community Support Officers, and decided this would be a great step forward for me and decided to apply for the job, I took a lot of time writing out my application form, the more research I done on PCSO the more I wanted to be successful in getting the job, I knew that this was the line of work for me. About two weeks later (June 2004) I got a letter saying that my application had been successful and I was invited to an interview, I was so happy to have got to the next stage.
Preparing for my Interview
I knew that I had to do a lot more research to do well in my interview, I read the Job Description and all the other information they gave me and started writing notes, and made sure I was clear and had a good understanding on what the job initialled.
I had looked up PCSO on the Internet and this is when I found this site, which helped me to find out exactly what PCSO do and find the negative things and the positive things about the job. I spoke to local PCSO and asked them if they could advise me on my interview, what they advised was to make sure that I understood the in-depth of the job, if you feel you this is the job for you and you have the right attitude, I will be fine, important skills is wanting to help improve the Community, to help prevent crime to be a good team player I found by doing a lot of research it made me feel confident for my interview.
At Interview stage
On the day of my interview I was nervous and there were lots of people waiting to go in for their interview, When I walked into the room there were two Police Officers waiting to interview me, they was really nice and made me feel calm and relaxed, (I remember pouring myself a glass of water and I spilt all the water down me - how embarrassing ) They started by asking me what I was doing at present and why I wanted to change jobs, they also asked me to give examples of when I had come across difficult situations and how I dealt with them, and why I wanted to become a PCSO, and what difference I could make to the community, I found that most of the questions was just common sense answers, and as I have put so much thought into getting the job and because I really wanted to be a PCSO the questions I found quite easy, but one of the questions that I struggled on was ‘Diversity’ the questions was ‘explain the meaning of Diversity’, I managed to say something but I ended up gettting myself into a bit of mess and I started to rabbit on abit so I stopped to be honest I am not sure how to answer this question correctly and they said they respected my honesty.
They wanted to know what my hobbies were and they was impressed that I do Tae Kwon Doe and Netball twice a week and this gave them some indication that I was fit (ish) and could work within a team. I would advise to stay calm, think before you speak and to be sure that you have done your homework, don't guess an answer, be confident An hour later, the interview was over and I felt that I had come across clearly and was just hoping that I had come across the best I could have.
On the 29th June 04, I got a letter stating that I got to the next stage and all I had to do was get satisfactory references and security clearance, at this stage I had passed medical clearance, I did not hear anything again until the 12th August 2004, in this letter it stated that they were experiencing a National Delay on Security vetting and that I will not be able to commence my induction training until the 17th January 2005. On the 19th October 2004 it was cleared and I had 100% got the job. It is a long wait, but I did appreciate that they have so many people they have to clear and the process is so long. But it is worth the wait.
I start my training on the 17th January and a few weeks back, I got my uniform fitting, which they give you once you start training, also I have not yet been told when I going to be based could be anywhere in the Forest Division, at this stage I am not sure what my shifts are going to be. I am just looking forward to getting started, it a great experience for me, and the challenge of the job will be great, I can’t wait to help make a difference out there.
Good Luck to all who apply.
Smile and the World will smile with you [12.1.05]
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
You have done all the hard work on the application form, you have received a letter asking you for an interview, what to expect when you get there? Hopefully the following information will dispel a few myths and anxieties for you before you go in.
WHAT I CAN DO BEFOREHAND ABOUT WHERE I AM TO BE INTERVIEWED?
This probably sounds like teaching you to suck eggs, but you will be amazed at the amount of people who are late for interview because they have not investigated the local parking before they set off for the interview and made sure that they can get parked, take enough change with you for parking machines if you have to use one. Also make sure you know where you are going for the interview, yet again, have found people wandering all over HQ because they had not checked beforehand and despite being given a map. It doesn’t give a good impression before you have even opened your mouth to speak!
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN I ARRIVE?
Report to where you have been instructed to do so on the paperwork, make sure that you arrive at the latest 10 minutes before your interview, this gives you time to pop into the toilets, ladies to sort out hair/makeup and gents to make sure that your flies are done up¼ believe me I have seen open ones whilst interviewing!!
At the time of your interview someone will be sent to collect you, this may be one of the interviewers or someone who is helping with the assessments if you are having them done at the same time.
SHOULD I SHAKE THEIR HANDS?
This is something that you could ask the person who comes and collects you, it’s a pretty much play by ear situation, however, when I was interviewing I always thought that it was a polite thing to offer or to be offered a handshake, lets face it they are not going to ignore you if you put your hand out don’t worry you are not judged on your handshakes, however, make it a firm one, limp handshakes are not nice! Most importantly when you go in and meet your interviewers¼.SMILE and make yourself comfortable.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE INTERVIEWING ME?
Probably 2 but could be 3, some may be civilian staff, some may be higher ranking officers, some wear uniform and some like to keep it less formal and wear civilian clothes when interviewing, they will, however, always introduce themselves and identify what rank they are within the police structure.
WILL THERE BE A DRINK THERE FOR ME?
Yes, the interview room should be laid out with no barriers between you and the interviewers, there should be a fresh bottle of water and cups for you to use. Not only handy for when your throat dries up (which hopefully it won’t), but a useful tool for pausing for a moment to think before you answer a question.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
This will vary from force to force, but as a general rule of thumb, the chairperson of the interview panel will explain to you that you are going to be asked questions, they may specify how many, and to take no notice of the other person/people who are with them who are writing whilst you are talking. The person asking you questions will not write at all, but the other person/s with them will be scribbling all the time that you are talking. They are not writing down opinions about you, they are writing down what you are saying so that when they interview is over they can consult and mark your answers.
The chairperson may also add in how long the interview is likely to take and not to worry if they look at their watches, or a clock on the wall as obviously they can‘t run over your allocated time, in my experience the interview should last about 45 minutes .. .then comes the one everyone wants to know the answer to¼
WHAT WILL I BE ASKED?
All applicants are asked exactly the same questions. And one of the first things I used to like asking people, when interviewing them is why they want to do the job that they have applied for; i.e.; Why do you want to be a PCSO? This is generally an opener to get you talking and is not marked, but helps you get over the initial fear of opening your mouth and speaking.
THIS IS NOT A DEFINITE LIST OF SUBJECTS THAT YOU WILL BE ASKED ABOUT - THIS OBVIOUSLY VARIES FROM FORCE TO FORCE, BUT GENERALLY THESE ARE THE SORT OF THINGS THAT YOU SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT WHEN YOU GO INTO INTERVIEW AND PREPARING EXAMPLES FOR.
Having read the above list you should now be thinking about a couple of examples for each subject, some of them may seem very similar, there is a slight crossover.. For practice I found the best thing was to sit down beforehand, having written yourself out a list of examples for each of the categories and talk the answers out loud to yourself, you may feel silly but it really helps, and if you only use one example per question then you may be able to fit in a spare example to fit in with another question. Having a pot of examples to hand is half the battle in an interview. i.e.; that spare Team Working example that you had could be used for a Problem Solving answer and so on.
HOW WILL THESE QUESTIONS BE WORDED?
They shouldn’t be worded in such a way that you don’t understand the question, if you don’t - ask them to clarify what they mean, once happy go ahead with your answer. If you want time to think, say so, if you would like to come back to that question, again, say so and they will leave it until the end and come back to what you missed.
I shall use Team Working as an example here..
You may be asked "Can you give us an example of when you have worked as part of a team, what was your role?"
Your answer should be an example of this, not a generalisation of how you work at present with a team. Think of something like where you have been given a specific task within a team to do, how your work affected others, did you finish early and help others with their tasks in order to meet a deadline etc
Once you have given your example then the interviewers may want you to expand on something that you have said and probe further into your answer. Then as a follow on, on the same subject of Team working they may ask you; What are the positive and negative points of working within a Team? This sort of question is asking you for your opinion, you could add an example in here as well.
ARE THEY TRYING TO CATCH ME OUT?
Simple answer to this is no!
Interviewers are trained to get the best out of you, they may not feel that you have answered a question sufficiently and will ask further questions about what you have answered in order for you to elaborate, this is to give you a chance. Listen to what they are asking, in the wording of further questions based on your answers they are probably throwing you a little hook to catch onto in order for them to hear what they think that you should be saying.
WHAT IF I CAN’T THINK OF AN ANSWER?
Best thing in this case is to be honest say that you have not had experience of what they are asking, but then go on to say how you would deal with it if you were in that situation. Obviously you will not get high marks for not giving a specific example but you main gain a point or so for trying to give an answer.
CAN I TALK ABOUT THINGS NOT ABOUT MY CURRENT/FORMER EMPLOYMENT?
Absolutely you can, as in interviewer I found the answers given by people that were not work related were always far more interesting than work based answers. Obviously not all questions lend themselves to out of work activities/hobbies.
HOW WILL I KNOW THAT THE INTERVIEW IS OVER?
Once everyone has asked their questions the chairperson will tell you that it is the end of the interview and you can relax! At this point they may run through the conditions of service with you, they may have done it at the start, after they have done that then it’s your turn!!
This is the time now when you will be given an opportunity to ask them some questions. Some they may not be able to answer, for example, pensions etc as these matters are dealt with by specific departments. If you want to ask things write them down, nothing worse than leaving the interview room and suddenly thinking, Oh, I wish I had asked? You will know what you want to know about, but I think that a good question to come out with, if you ask nothing else, is when will I hear? The interviewers will have been briefed beforehand about time scales and should have this information to hand and be able to give you an answer.
WHAT SHALL I DO WHEN I LEAVE?
On a personal note I think that it is so nice when someone says quite simply - THANK YOU for your time. If you have had the handshakes when you came in, do them again on the way out. Someone should see you out of the building and back to reception.
Then go home, probably via the pub to calm yourself down!
I hope that the above topics answer some of the FAQ regarding interviews, just remember to be yourself; don’t tell lies, don’t make things up , it is possible that you could be found out, how does that look as far as your integrity goes?
About me, if you’re interested!! Have worked for the Police for nearly 8 years, most of them spent as a Communications Officer, have been a patrolling PCSO since November 2004. I was structured interviewed trained over a year ago and have interviewed people for positions of Police Officers and Communications Officers.
John Child cartoons!
LOG ONTO HIS SITE RIGHT HERE for more cartoons and to contact him
The interview....da da daaaaaaaa!
The interview, normally the most dreaded part of any new job experience. You've done the application form, and admit it you thought it was easy because you got your dad or your spouse to help with it. The only trouble is, you've suddenly realised that you're going to be pretty alone in that interview room. The interview for the police is like many others, but you need to be prepared. Firstly, the length. Many PCSO's have found that their interviews have lasted WELL over an hour, and that's a pretty long time to be grilled by a group of people who want to make sure you're the best of the best. But don't worry, to get this far you must have said something to impress them.
My first piece of advice is, learn your application form. Be able to recite word for word what you wrote, BUT do NOT regurgitate your answers. You will be quizzed on your application but they will ask you questions you won't be expecting and won't appreciate hearing what they have written in front of them.
Secondly, you MUST be clued up on local news. They will expect you to be switched on when it comes to local issues concerning crime, quality of life, as well as the demographics of the area. What does that mean? The geographers amongst you will know that it means you will be expect to know your "target audience". Is the area predominantly Asian, are there lots of young people, are there lots of amenities, are the people rich or poor. They will expect you to know. Why? Because they want to know how you feel about working in such an area, and more importantly they want to know what sort of positive contribution you can make to the area.
In case you haven't realised there is a lot more to the job than simply being law enforcers. You will quickly find that to be able to do your job you will need the cooperation of the local populace, you aren't a police officer so you will need your wits about you. They will ask you questions about how you feel about any possible improvements to the area, have you recognised any possible government iniatives which will help the local people and improve their qualities of life, and I've said it before but it needs to be repeated, what will YOU do to help make people feel safer and better about the area they live in. Don't say "I'm going to walk around all day".
Thirdly, they want to see how you react under pressure. You will quickly realise that the interview questions go by pretty fast, and that the subject continually alters according to your answers. They WILL test you on your answers, if you reply don't expect that to be the end of it. They will want to know your reasoning behind what you say.
Expect some very controversial questions as well, for example a fellow PCSO says to you that he "secretly hates black people and it affects his job". The interviewers will want to know how you would react to that, and what your future actions could be with regard to the matter. The questions are designed to be tough, and at times it will seem like they are trying to trip you up. Don't be afraid to ask for a few seconds to think, but make sure you do think about your answers. Don't use those valuable seconds admiring the plain blue carpetting that runs through the office!!! Finally, they will do some role-playing with you. They will give you a few scenarios and ask how you would deal with each one, and what future actions you will take.
This list isn't exhaustive, some forces will have a completely different interview technique to the one I went through, others will be harder or easier. The most important thing to remember is:Swot up, make sure you prepare for a very tough interview, but then relax. Don't go in terrified that you are going to fail, be confident. Confidence will show and it will impress the interviewers.
Good luck to you all, see you on the streets
John Child cartoons!
LOG ONTO HIS SITE RIGHT HERE for more cartoons and to contact him
This basically consisted of watching a video clip a couple of times whilst taking notes and then writing a report on what you had seen. This took about an hour and then we were taken to another waiting room whilst our reports were assessed.
I was shown to a room where a police officer and a civil worker conducted my interview. I was asked questions such as:
What does diversity mean to you?
How would working for the metropolitan police affect your life?
What would you do if you were told to stand at a cordoned area?
How would you stop yourself getting bored?
What would you say was the biggest problem that the metropolitan police face at present?
Can you name any current operations that the met are running?
I was also asked some questions relating to my answers on my application form so photocopy it before you send it off and read back through it before your interview. I seriously recommend researching on the net. There are lots of websites with information but the Met’s website was very useful to me. I researched the powers that PCSO’s have and also about their history in the met. I researched the Met's coverage area as well. I cannot say that they will ask questions about these specific things but I was asked if there was anything else I could tell them about the met or specifically community support officers and they said that they were impressed with the research that I had obviously done.
I was sent upstairs for my medical which was basically going through all my medical history. A nurse asked me a lot of questions regarding my own and my family’s health and she took my height, weight and blood pressure. I then had a hearing test which lasted about 10 minutes and was conducted in a small booth with headphones. It involved pressing a button whenever you heard a beep.
They told me after my interview that I had got the job and they went through all the forms with me before I left to check everything was filled in correctly. I was also given the name and number of my case worker. I was told to phone her to get an update on how my paperwork was progressing. I found that at times it could be quite difficult to get her to answer the phone but anyone I have spoken to in the department has always tried to give me as much information was available at the time. When there were things that needed doing to complete my file they did contact me so I did not need to keep phoning them.
John Child cartoons!
LOG ONTO HIS SITE RIGHT HERE for more cartoons and to contact him
GroovyDan Essex 2005
I decided that I wanted to join the police force in my local area, but found out after visiting the “Could You” website they weren’t recruiting. In fact I found out that contrasting to the headlines and public opinion, most police forces in England and Wales are fully staffed. The only force recruiting was the British Transport police.
Even with the enticements of a higher wage due to London Weighting this wasn’t the policing I wanted to do. I wanted to be patrolling areas near me to help improve the world I immediately live in, not get sworn at by some inner city gangsta- wannabe. I still applied because I thought the whole experience would be useful for when I did apply to Essex police. The fact remained in my head that I wanted to be a “copper” for reasons other than money.
I was truly fed up with working hard and doing nothing more than make some corporate company some extra profit, annoy customers with relentless suggestive selling and lose interest more and more each day in the task in hand.
The questions began rolling in my head- Who does this benefit? Is it all worth it? Do these people actually appreciate what I’m doing? Do I feel valued?
I answered no to all of them.
I once again scoured the internet for police recruitment pages and other associated pages that I really do take interest in. Somehow, just looking at the News and Appeals sections of police forces made me feel more involved. It was like putting petrol on a fire- the flames became stronger and stronger to follow my ideals and ambition.
Then I looked again at the “Could You” website and investigated the other roles that I could do. The Community Support Officer section didn’t sound enough for me. No powers of arrest!? No ASP!? No CS!? So what does that mean? I just walk about all day for people to look at and wave to old dears? I wasn’t sure; however my police force was beginning to recruit them.
I hit the search engine button in my browser and typed in Police Community Support Officer. Unsure of what I would find I looked at the results and there was a good list of pages to read. I closed my connection and went to bed.
The next day, all day at work, I was thinking about what the role meant to me. I mean, if I couldn’t arrest people and deal with confrontational situations what could I do?
When I got home I immediately logged on to the ‘net and searched again. I then realised the obvious. There is so much more to policing then whizzing around in a company car with blue neon’s and vinyl graphics as standard and dealing with drunken pub fights. What about the things that counts to the regular law- abiding citizen in my community everyday?
These were clearly the things that I had greatly overlooked. The walking about making a presence felt in areas with a greater than usual incidence of anti- social behaviour, stopping the youth boom down the pathway on his bicycle before he ploughs into an unsuspecting shopper, the helping to the old lady that is lost needs a little bit of a chat and directive walk, the real things, the community things. The sort of duty that most people originally signed up to do but can’t do because they are so tied up with bigger incidents.
Then I thought that it would be the ideal way of learning the basics of policing and gain hands- on experience so I would be in a better position apply and do a good job at higher level police work. I didn’t need powers of arrest, an ASP or CS, I just needed a chance.
The clock was ticking for applications to be received so I had no time to lose. I called the number as published on the website and left my details. I went to work again. I felt depressed again.
I heard the post land through on the floor as though it was launched through by some crazy American research project missile. I decided to see if (rather optimistically) my application pack had arrived. As already guessed- it hadn’t. I wait more for the next post the next day.
At last my application pack arrived. It was only a couple of days but I can assure you that when you are waiting for an application and the days to be sent back is rapidly declining, it feels forever.
I open up the envelope and read EVERYTHING. I especially took time over the Job Specification. It became more and more appealing. This was quite clearly the job that I wanted to have.
When I returned home I typed out every piece of information asked on the application form onto my computer. It was far easier to rewrite and delete bad grammar or spelling mistakes then it was to tip- ex on a blue form!
I went over everything- I individually checked all my recent employer’s addresses, postcodes and telephone numbers on Yell.com and I wrote and re-wrote my “Experience” answer a million times until it read smoothly, clearly and relevantly.
When I was writing my answer to what experience I had to the role I had the Job Spec in front of me at all times. I looked at the points that were specifically important to the role. It was obviously important for me to address diversity, teamwork and resilience especially well.
With each point that was made, I clearly and concisely referred to an employer or educational time which illustrated my gained experience. I had worked very hard personally to study a British National Diploma in Public Services for two years and achieve a pass. I was also fortunate to be a voluntary Steward at Reading music festival so had some very clear answers for some very taxing roles and requirements.
At least I had the application in my possession. I was not going to let this chance slip.
I reworked my Experience answer time and time again until I was totally happy with what I had wrote and felt I could not fit anymore onto two pages without going over the top or rambling on. I asked my Mum (always a handy critic) and friends to read what I had written. Their advice was great, even though this meant I essentially had to totally delete around a third of it and rework it again.
It was really worth the constructive (and very trying) criticism. I had so much I wanted to say and express but had real difficulty in getting it right. The feeling that I wanted this job so much some how, and rather ironically, made me lessen my skills at application writing. Still, I managed to get a really, really satisfactory answer.
To ensure complete success at the sifting process I decided that it really wouldn’t hurt to contact my local police station and see if I could ask someone to check over what I had done and give me helpful pointers and advice on the role.
Fortunately I was lucky enough to arrange an informal meeting with my local Community Liaison Officer. Perfect. A Community Liaison Officer to check over a Community Support Officer’s application the next day.
I completed my application with constant and whole attention to every character and word I had typed on my computer screen. I decided that printing out my Experience and Employment History on separate sheets of paper would look and read much more professional than even the best of handwriting. I rechecked it again and spell checked (obsessively) twice, and then printed it out.
I attached these with individual paper clips and smiled at the way that I was one step closer to getting into the police force.
It was 11am and I had a short time to meet the Community Liaison officer at the police station local to me. I had a strong cup of coffee and walked out the door…..
….I reached the police station and promptly met and began talking with this incredibly helpful gentleman.
All the hard work and criticism was worth it. I was told that it “was what we’re looking for” and without asking, was told what a Community Support Officer did. I was advised on sending my application as soon as possible so I didn’t miss the deadline. I agreed and sent it as soon as I left; recorded delivery for sure. Now it was just a waiting game to see if I got an interview. With about a week left until the closing date it was going to be an agonising time.
The phone rings. It’s my friends checking to see if I was working that night or not.
conducted in 2007
Top Site Interviews
The phone rings again. “Hello, can I speak to Daniel Chesterman please….”
I couldn’t believe it. I made the paper sift. Essex police had called ME back and wanted ME to go to an interview. The feeling and rush I got from that phone call was incredible. Okay, it was just an interview time and date, but it was for the police and it was the right direction.
As an amazing co-incidence the interview was at the same time and date as I had booked off from work to take my Car theory test. I decided not to book my theory test after that.
It was also the day after my work’s Christmas party. I decided not to go to that either. There was no way in the world that a heavy head, food poisoning, alcohol induced arguments or drunken accidents were going to risk affecting my interview the day after.
I began preparing any evidence of my achievements and experiences that I had that were relevant to community focus and the job in hand. I bought a hard backed small portfolio where I could insert A4 pages into pre- binded clear plastic wallets.
My Public Services BND certificate, letter of appointment as Oxfam Steward, letters of a charity car wash donation, etc. were all included and another copy of my employment history at the back and a brief profile as the first page. I had to use every bullet in my armament to get this job. I was not going to let it slip.
It’s the January sales. It was pay day and the interview was coming. I got my backside into gear and went to a well know quality clothes shop and bought a new suit, shirt, tie and shoes for the occasion. I had to look the part for me to feel the part.
I returned home from work and relaxed greatly. I had to be in tip- top form the next day. The interview was becoming an obsessive part of my cognitive thinking and was almost making me neurotic. I kept practising aloud to myself every possible question that I expected them to answer. I really grilled my self and kept practising the questions I wasn’t confident at answering and practised my answers using a greater diction than usual without going over the top.
I took a long bath and was in bed by 10pm- as opposed to 1 or 2am! I needed my sleep and needed to be bright as possible the next day. I was being the most sensible I had been for a while.
Rather crazily though, a neighbours car alarm did keep going off constantly all night. I buried my head under my pillow to the point I felt I was suffocating myself, but I needed a clear head, or as much of one as possible, the next day.
D Day was here. The time of England’s finest going to try and gain victory using the technique of confidence, self belief and real want was here. Dressed the best I could, feeling as best I could, I made my way to the front line arriving there the statutory 10mins early.
The reception area was fairly full. I tried hard not to let this psyche me out. I had to keep thinking I was better and had more to offer than everyone else- true or not, at times like these you must think like this.
I spot in the corner a news rack full of recent police publications and magazines. I decide that this would be a great first impression; to see me reading a police magazine when the rest of the waiting room are staring at the floor or the chipped paint on the pipe in the corner letting their nerves overbear their head and start to get nervy. The magazine was a great help in keeping cool.
Purely by co-incidence though, I managed to pick up a magazine with a three page special on PCSO’s and their work. I had found a100 carat diamond in a desert of publicised back patting and job vacancies. I read with a happy and getting more relaxed grin on my face, researching the official views and information on the very forthcoming interview for said position.
Then a very well presented lady opened the door and spoke my name. The summons was here. I looked up with a smile, closed the magazine, stood up and shook her hand.
This was the first impression I wanted and needed for me as a person.
We went to the interview room and I was introduced formally to her and her colleague. Firm handshakes once again and a polite nod of acknowledgement and a “nice to meet you” was the order of the day.
It was explained to me how long the interview would last, what they wanted to find out and the brief outline of questions to be asked.
The first question I was asked was about teamwork- Do you think you are an effective team member and why? Have you ever been responsible for a team? How would you vary your work when you are not in control of the team? And a load of other related questions delving deeper, as you would have to expect.
Which then all flowed into initiative- Can you give an example of when you had to use your initiative? Was this your role or did you decide to do it? When would you use you initiative? When wouldn’t you? What would make you decide when you should or shouldn’t?
Then it moved onto diversity- What does a multi-cultural society mean to you? What is a multi cultural society? When have you had to deal with a situation where someone’s culture or beliefs were different to your own? How did other people react? How did you feel? Have you experienced someone making a racist or prejudice remark? How did this make you feel? What did you do in response? What would you do if a senior officer made a remark? Would you tell anyone?
Then it was customer focus. More questions but this time asking for specifics on when you have provided a service to a customer above what you was meant to do, what did you do? Was there anything more you could have done? Were you personally responsible for the outcome? Was the outcome appropriate? What did you do to actually influence the outcome?
After this I was asked about my experiences with acts of resilience- When have you had to be resilient? What was the situation? How did you feel? What did you have to do to maintain it? What happened and how did you deal with it?
Mistakes and failure came next- the two words I didn’t need to hear in this situation. I had to keep reassuring myself for a second that this was not a mistake and was not a failure; stay focused, stay focused. The questions they asked were When have you failed at something? What happened? What did you do to rectify this situation? What was the outcome? What would you have done differently? How do you feel about mistakes?
And then finally the one that got me and I didn’t feel I did very well at was problem solving. So they asked more questions; When have you come across a particular problem, can you give an example? What did you do to fix the problem? What was the outcome? Do you think you solved the problem? Was it satisfactory?
At last they had finished the interview questions and it felt like I was in there for a year and did not manage to convey half of what I wanted to say. Still, I answered fully and concisely using different examples to those I written in my Experience application.
It was my turn to ask the questions. The first I had to ask was if they wanted to look at my profile and achievements that I had brought along. This was passed onto the gentleman that was interviewing me too. I felt that he took a real read at what was there and all the achievements and experience letters that I had included. During this time I asked the lady about pensions, etc.
When the interviewing gentleman had finished browsing through my folder he asked some more brief questions about my achievement in my folder. Such questions like “Did you organise this” and “Did you enjoy it.” Simple non- aggressive questions, obviously to understand who I was as a person. It wasn’t anything like the inquisition I just been through. To these I responded and then the leading lady asked me a few more. It’s this part of the interview that I felt went the best and gave the best insight into my personality. It was almost like a debrief and had a similar effect of a “Cool- down” after a big workout at the gym!
The final part was the usual what three areas would you like to be posted in question, in order of priority. With this answered I again shook hands and was walked to the reception with the lady. She again offered to shake my hand, and said goodbye.
I walked calmly out of the building and took a massive breath of air. I felt absolutely psychologically drained. It was as though I had been trying to solve the world’s hardest crossword for five days and wasn’t allowed to sleep. My brain felt fried. I just didn’t know how it went at all. For the first time in my life I was greatly unsure of how well I had done.
On the way home the car had never felt so alien to me. The world was alien. I said nothing to my mum (who was driving) for most of the way home, I chain smoked and kept randomly speaking about things that stuck in my mind to reassure myself about how I did.
If I can get this far, I’m sure you can. There’s a very true and wise saying that I live by; I remember seeing it when I was a wee lad in the School library-
“Aim for the stars and the least you will do is hit the moon.”
How very true…….
So what was the outcome?
I managed to pass my interview and win a place on the reserve list! Fingers crossed for whatever reason someone may drop out- securing a bash at the training!!!
Being 23, I’m a very typical lad who lives in Essex. Doing the usual things of having beers with my mates (when financially and work permitting) is very much one of the enjoyable hobbies I have.
Although I do however participate in more intellectual things, such as reading non- fiction material. I have to mention the most excellent “The Art of Travel” by Alain de Botton and “A brief history of everything” by Bill Bryson as some top reads. The Art of Travel is very good accompliment to anyone who goes on holiday or travelling. I read it when I travelled around Italy from Milan to Messina and made me think a lot about what was going around me, and even made coming home an interesting experience (Read it and you will understand!!!)
Other than that scouring the internet for original and thought provoking material on almost anything is without doubt a great past time- policing in the UK is a great interest, as you must have guessed already. It is truly amazing the amount of information we can access across the globe. [1.2.05] GroovyDan Essex
John Child cartoons!
LOG ONTO HIS SITE RIGHT HERE for more cartoons and to contact him
kelly W Sussex
I have been a PCSO since 19th July 2004, I was a Special Constable for two years before, I then became interested in the role of a PCSO, as I was lucky enough to have worked along side them. Once I saw how they worked and had the role explained to me I knew there and then that this was the adventure for me. I applied for the role and 2 months after the medical and the interview I found out that I had been successful.
I enjoy being at home with my partner and doing up our house, and I enjoy spending time with my friends who mean the world to me.
Once I received the application form, I had a read of the job description, also enclosed were a couple of “A day in the life of….” diaries from other PCSO’s in Sussex, this gave me a idea on the shift pattern and a more in depth site of a how a PCSO can make a difference. I would recommend a day out shadowing a PCSO at your local station, also I looked on the Sussex Police website.
I found this quite at a relaxed level as it was in a hotel so pretended I was on holiday, there was only the three of us waiting. My interview lasted for 20 minutes and I had three ladies interviewing me, they wanted to know about me, what I liked and disliked, what I would do in certain scenarios and what attracted me to the role of PCSO considering I was a Special Constable. The scenarios which they gave me were “What would you do if you found out one of your friends was involved in something you did not agree with…”, and “What would you do if you were having trouble with a work colleague… general questions like this and you are allowed to sit there and have a think about it first before you speak. Best advice I can give is to be honest and use eye contact and smile, as you are not under threat, also breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth deeply before you go in.
I had two weeks of excellent training and hard work, then a two week leg stretch at the station where you are posted, just shadowing your tutor and getting a general feel for the role and the team that you will be working with. Then two more weeks training then you are off to the station where you are posted with your tutor and you start your adventure.
Six months on……….
It is hard work and very busy but I have made some good friends already, I have my own areas that I patrol, as well as a joint partnership with the Council Wardens and Police Constables, there is a lot more but it all varies. Also this website has opened my eyes to issues I had no idea of to start with. Good luck.
[11.2.05] kelly W Sussex view Competency Assessment topic
Prison Officers PCSOs H A T O S Windsor Safari
Prison Officers H A T O S Police Community Support officer