Understanding Competency Based Assessment - bselectedpolice

Understanding Competency Based Assessment

This is the second in a 6-part series of Police Promotion articles, ‘b’ the best you can be.

In our first article we introduced you to bselected’s ‘3 Pillars of Success©’ – Content, Structure and Delivery. When mastered they together focus your preparation and result in highly effective responses for each assessment stage. We also talked briefly about the general misunderstanding of how competency based selection processes measure and assess candidates. We call this ‘knowing what to expect, how to prepare and how to deliver’.

Each Force uses a variety of assessment types to measure candidates’ suitability for the role. This ranges from the traditional paper application and interview to broader stages such as In-Tray/POINT exercises, presentation, psychometric tests and interactive exercises (e.g. role-play or briefing), some of which we will talk you through later in this series. Whilst each stage is designed to measure the candidate in a certain way, all are based on the relevant Competency based framework for that Force (with a slight exception in some psychometric tests). The standard national framework is the Policing Professional Framework (PPF), currently being replaced by the new Competency and Values Framework (CVF), with certain Force specific equivalents (such as the MPS Performance Framework).

One of the main issues we come across is that far too often the competency framework is only ‘dusted off’ periodically when a promotion process is announced. The essence and language of each competency are simply not understood and are seen by candidates as far removed from day-to-day policing activity. Candidates struggle to grasp what they are being asked to demonstrate or how they are assessed. More often than not guidance or feedback results in more confusion than clarity. Clearly these frameworks are not designed solely for promotion and selection; they are the standards that all police professionals should meet on a daily basis. The challenge here for any Force is to ensure the competencies are better incorporated into ongoing professional development and performance management.

So what does the term ‘competency’ actually mean in a promotion process. Well, it’s how we do things. How we behave, act or react to a certain situation or stimulus. Competency based assessment is not only concerned with the result, but that the candidate knows how they achieved that outcome.

There are two main question types candidates will face at paper application, presentation and interview stage – behavioural and situational (or forward facing) questions.

For example, in the case of behavioural questions if you have been good at developing others or inspiring teams in the past – and you know how you achieved this – the theory would suggest you are likely to be good at this in the future regardless of the situation or role. In the case of forward facing questions you must demonstrate not just the outcome or result you seek to achieve, but how you will do that. Anyone can say they will lead highly motivated teams in line with the Force vision – what the assessor is interested in is how you intend do this.

This isn’t easy to achieve as it requires you to talk about yourself in a different way than you would normally in the work-place, demonstrating a deep level of self-awareness. In our all-day Police Promotion Masterclass we talk through this in detail, coaching officers to look at their examples and evidence from a different perspective by introducing ‘Red-Flags’, inherent risk in all candidates that effects performance and negatively influences the assessor.

Once you understand how each assessment stage is assessed you then need to understand how to manage these ‘Red-Flags’ and positively influence at every opportunity. In the main these are very simple techniques and skills aimed at increasing candidate confidence. For example, during interview the assessor should be able to easily follow your response and write down everything you say. If they can’t do this and struggle to keep up you are making life difficult for them, which is going to impact on your scoring. Remember, assessing is not an easy task and most internal assessors quickly regret the fact they volunteered (if they did volunteer in the first place). Most Forces struggle to find willing assessors.

The rule here is ‘keep it simple’ – make sure your response is easy to follow and focuses on relevant content, from the assessor’s perspective. Slow down, breath and control your pace to assist note-taking. Concentrate not just on the outcome or result of your example, but how you achieved this.

Whilst understanding the theory is important, implementing it is critical and often very difficult when under pressure. That’s why each bselected Masterclass includes our ‘5 Key Elements of a High Scoring Answer’ and interactive role-play coaching.

In our next article in a fortnight we will cover the first 3 Elements in more detail and help you prepare your best evidence.

We are passionate about helping officers maximise their performance and work towards promotion success. This isn’t an easy journey whatever the assessment type or selection process.

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