How Much Time Do I Need To Prepare? - bselectedpolice

How Much Time Do I Need To Prepare?

A common question that we are asked at bselectedpolice Towers is “How long do I need to prepare for my board?”

In our opinion the easy answer is always, ‘as long as possible’, but we appreciate that this is not really much help to you!

We ran a Twitter poll recently with the following results:

It seems like there was a general consensus across the Twittersphere that at least 40 hours is required, so let’s try and put some facts behind the numbers.

Let’s assume that you have invested in our Online Learning Programme to help you understand the essential theory that you need for a competency based process, help you begin to draft answers and benchmark yourself against ‘what good looks like’ videos.

To work through the programme and give it the attention it requires is going to take you around 10 hours.

At this stage you would know what to expect, how to prepare and how to deliver a great answer. You will have also prepared answers for both a behavioural and forward facing competency based question. If we are generous we can assume that these prepared answers will be included in the competencies/questions that you will be assessed on at your board.

Most forces ask at least 5 competency based questions, so let’s take that as our reference point. Often the split between behavioural and any forward facing questions is unclear, so it could be argued that you need 5 behavioural and 5 forward facing example answers prepared to cover all bases. That’s 10 answers in total.

So in addition to those already prepared during the Online Learning Programme, which means you need to prepare 4 more behavioural and 4 more forward facing answers.

From experience we believe that it will take at least 2 hours work per answer in order for you to prepare the best evidence you can.

So straight away you have:

  • 4 x 2 hours to prepare your behavioural answers
  • 4 x 2 hours to prepare your forward facing answers

16 hours

Hmm, building up already.

Having a back up answer is highly recommended and we always say that you should have at least 2 answers per competency that you are being assessed on.

So that means an additional 20 hours (10 answers x 2 hours each) for you to have 2 answers for each competency in behavioural and forward facing versions (20 answers in total).

Once you have all the answers written up you will need to learn them. Again, in my experience this will take minimum 1 hour per answer, so 20 hours for the 20 answers you have prepared. Still following?

Finally you will need to rehearse your answer – role-playing with a colleague or even in front of a mirror, so you practice the delivery and ensure you have sufficient impact to positively influence the assessors. Let’s be conservative and say 1-hour of rehearsal per answer, so another 20 hours.

If we tot that lot up you are looking at;

  • 10 hours working through the Online Programme (including writing 1 behavioural & 1 forward facing answer)
  • 16 hours to prepare the remaining behavioural & forward facing (so you have 10 answers in total)
  • 20 hours to prepare back up answers (so you have 20 answers in total)
  • 20 hours to learn them
  • 20 hours to rehearse them

86 hours Total


If you allocate 2 hours each day to prepare, that still spans 43 days. Life will definitely get in the way so you will need to give yourself some flex around that, as let’s face facts, some days you will just want to go the pub, walk the dog or spend time with your family.

So you can see in our opinion that to be as effective as possible in your preparation you are looking at a minimum 6-week promotion preparation action plan. Those who voted 40+ hours in the Twitter poll knew their stuff!

Clearly some officers may be quicker than this (and others may take longer) but the obvious point is that as soon as you decide to go for promotion you need to take steps to start preparing and planning time in. Effective preparation is not something that can be done in a couple of days.

Ideally you only want to go through the promotion process for the next rank once, so it makes sense to get it right first time.

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