An application form is often the first stage ‘sift’, with successful officers proceeding through to the next assessment stage.
One thing is for sure is that competency based application forms are a very challenging part of the process. And unfortunately there is no easy way to approach them. If you are reading this blog looking for a quick and easy fix in how to complete your form, well apologies, it’s going to take a lot of work. Soz. 😖
Essentially to succeed you need to fully understand the bselectedpolice process of how to respond to any competency based exercise (whether this be the interview, role play or an In-tray) in order for you to effectively complete a form.
Most application forms include a number of behavioural or situational questions where you are asked to demonstrate evidence against each competency.
There is usually a set number of words or characters, which can vary significantly from anywhere between 250-1000. It is this limitation that causes most headaches for officers, so it needs a very structured approach in order to be effective.
Application form format also varies considerably from force to force, and from process to process in the same force. So, it’s imperative you read the candidate guidance carefully to understand what is required. This is obvious we know, but we are constantly amazed at how many officers do not do it and therefore put themselves at a disadvantage immediately. If in any doubt, ask your Human Resources department for clarification.
You then need to identify if the questions in the form are behavioural or situational (I.e are they past or forward facing) and draft your answers using the appropriate bselectedpolice STAR+© or REDSTaR© structure as are described in our Online Learning Programme.
You shouldn’t worry about the word count at this stage, just get your answer down on paper following the appropriate bselectedpolice structure and ensuring you include bselectedpolice’s 5 Key Elements of a High Scoring Answer© to help you prepare your best evidence. There are no shortcuts here. Sorry… again. 😖😖😖
Remember, you will still be marked against the same type of marking sheet used in the interview. This helps keep the sift process objective and fair.
When you have your ‘long’ answers drafted out, only then are you in a position to edit them down to the appropriate number of words or characters for the application form.
Although this approach may seem like overkill, it is actually much easier and more effective than trying to write a 250 or 300 word example from scratch.
Remove all sentences from your action sections that are just ‘padding’ that you know will not score. Be ruthless. There is usually lots of non-scoring ‘waffle’ that can be removed without detracting from the quality of your answer.
Some top tips:
- Get a dictionary and thesaurus out to help save precious words or characters. Wherever possible simplify and shorten the words that you use. There are no marks given for using ‘big’ and ‘clever’ words or terms.
- Have someone read through a draft before submission. Poor spelling and grammar may lose you marks, so always double check.
- Don’t leave this to the last minute. Take your time and prepare your very best evidence. A rushed application form can be very obvious to the assessor and may mean you do not progress to the next stage.
Essentially the same rules apply for preparing your application form answers as for writing a longer version for your interview.
In our opinion the most effective application form answers are just the shortened, edited versions of your best full length answers. If you try to write a short version from scratch, you will invariably miss out the key information that will score highly.
To help you prepare, our Online Police Promotion Success Programme, our Masterclasses or a 1:1 consultation can help you smash your board. Book here. Or if you fancy a quick promotion chat – give us a call on 0161 327 2126, we are always happy to chat all things promotion!