From 1st Nov 2009, the role-play exercises now account for 53% of all marks available during an assessment centre. In the previous year they were worth 57%.
If you are going to be appointed as a police officer, you are going to have to evidence sufficient skills during the 4 role play exercises. It is not possible to not perform in these exercises and still be appointed because there is insufficient marks elsewhere to meet the required overall pass mark (50-60% depending on force).
There is very little accurate advice on the market about the role-plays – so in this article we will dispell myths and seek to provide 100% accurate advice about this section of the assessment centre.
During the role plays you will perform the duty of a customer service officer working at a shopping centre. Your responsibility is to investigate complaints and deal with issues relating to policies and behaviour in the centre. You are expected to question individuals about what happened, said, done etc and then make decisions about which course of action will be taken. Some policies are included in the exercises so these will be available for you to explain. An example of such policy is the Equality Statement.
You will undertake 4 role play exercises, each lasting 10 mins. 5 mins preparation time, whereby you will read an exercise brief containing a memo/email from a senior manager, plus any additional information such as the policy on such matters. At the end of the 5 mins a buzzer will sound, there will now be a 90 second wait outside the entrance to the role-play room. At this stage you can read your notes and prepare to enter the room. A further buzzer will sound and you will then enter the room for a 5 min activity phase (you take your notes with you into the room). You will be greeted by a role actor whom always speaks on your entry. An example would be: Hello, my name is… I hope you are going to do something about that security team?
Candidates are then expected to ask appropriate clarifying questions about the incident/concern that the role actor witnessed/have. During this time, in many cases the role-actor will be testing your resilience so will try to provoke you and test your ability to remain calm, focused and follow through with the right decision.
Remember during the activity phase you have access to your notes and you have an identical copy of the brief in the room with you. You do not have access to a pen or pencil so it is very important you listen and take a mental note of what is being said, so if necessary you can ask clarifying questions later in the 5 mins.
Role actors have set scripts, approx. 14 lines that they can deliver to you during the 5 mins. They will only respond when you ask specific questions and state specific things. If for example, in the brief it told you the incident took place last ‘Thursday at 09:30’, if you were to ask the role actor when this happened you will be met with silence. You have already been told this information so why the need to ask? Your aim is to establish new information about what happened, said, done etc. If it said in the brief it happened ‘last week’ then of course you need to ask when last week did this happen? Once all questions have been asked, you now need to decide an appropriate course of action and explain it to the role actor.
At the end of the 5 mins a further buzzer will sound and this will signal the end of the role play exercise. You will be required to hand your notes to the assessor on exit, this is to prevent you from sharing your notes with other candidates whom have yet to undertake the role play exercise you have just completed. You are not allowed to leave the room until the buzzer sounds, so if you complete the exercise in less than 5 mins you will simply stay seated and wait for the buzzer. You now have 90 seconds to vacate the room and take your seat at the next preparation stage. A candidate co-ordinator will be present on the corridor, ensuring you are undertaking the exercises in the correct order (each candidate completes the exercises in a different order).
A buzzer will sound at the end of the 90 seconds and you will now begin a further 5 min preparation phase for another role play exercise. You only have 90 seconds from when you end the activity phase of one role play exercise before you begin the preparation phase for the next. No time at all to reflect on your performance!
All four role play exercises will be completed in 45 mins. The remaining 4 hours + at assessment centre will be spent trying to accrue the remaining 47% of the marks available.
Author: Recruitment Director – www.policeapplication.co.uk