Interview nerves can be debilitating. They can cause us to fluff up and waffle an otherwise well-prepared and strong example. Despite the broader range of assessment types now common in many police promotion processes, including psychometric testing and role-play exercises, the interview still remains the No.1 cause of concern for most candidates. The opportunity is finally here for you to ‘sell-yourself’ and let the assessors know that you really are the best candidate. The interview is often the final hurdle to achieving promotion success.
The good news is you’re not alone. In fact, nerves affect every other candidate; perhaps some even more than you, and the interviewer expects this. Remember, there is no hidden box of officers who suddenly appear and smash the process. The difference however is that some officers may be better able to control their nerves and therefore deliver a stronger performance.
It’s interesting that the vast majority of promotion candidates are far more anxious and stressed over the assessment process than they are over the responsibilities of the role should they be successful.
Whilst there are various causes of nerves, including past interview experiences, one of the most common factors is a lack of confidence and self-doubt. You must remember that you are already qualified and supported for the rank and by interview stage will have likely passed an initial sift. In any case, the new National Policing Promotion Framework (NPPF), covering Forces in England and Wales, introduces a period of work-based assessment post local selection leading to substantive promotion.
One of the main assessment dangers with a lack of confidence is that it shows – effecting delivery and negatively influencing your assessor. It’s important to recognise this and plan ahead. Here’s three simple ways to help, the ‘3 P’s’:
First you must prepare – preparation prevents poor performance! We call it ‘knowing what to expect, how to prepare and how to deliver’. The better you understand the assessment process the better your preparation will be. A lack of preparation is the single biggest cause of assessment failure. It’s not that candidates haven’t put enough time aside to prepare, it’s that they don’t know how. There shouldn’t be any surprises. You must know what to expect for each assessment stage. Whilst there are plenty of colleagues on hand to give well-intentioned advice, more often than not this leads to greater confusion. Remember, knowledge is power – the more you understand about the process the less surprises and shocks there will be on the day, leading to increased confidence and improved delivery.
Secondly, control your pace. Controlled delivery for any interactive exercise is important for a number of reasons, but critically it allows you to think more and fluff less! It is often the realisation half-way through an answer that you are not answering the question, if you still remember it, and have veered off into waffle mode – when our nerves kick into overdrive, inevitably leading to more waffle and ultimately disappointment. If you speak fast normally remember this will increase when nervous. Use techniques to slow down your pace, control your breathing and take control of the interview.
Finally, pause. In a normal conversation you wouldn’t talk non-stop for 6-7 minute without taking breath or pausing, so don’t do that in an interview. Just as important as controlling your pace you must learn to be comfortable with the use of pauses. Engage brain before mouth, think about your answer and don’t fire out a pre-prepared robotic response. Insert natural pauses throughout your delivery to help your response flow, also helping your assessor to catch up with their notes and stay engaged. You’re in a dangerous place if your interviewer can’t keep up and follow what your saying, no matter how good you think your answer maybe.
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. The opportunity for promotion is an important time in your career so don’t let a lack of preparation and poor delivery effect the outcome.
Ben Ewart is an assessment and selection performance coach with bselectedpolice.com, specialising in the police promotion process. bselected provides online support, nationwide Masterclasses and 1-2-1 coaching to officers and staff of all ranks and grades. ‘b’ the best you can be and maximise your chance of success.
Visit www.bselectedpolice.com to meet the team and find out more information about how we can help you or your organisation.