The basic principle of a role-play or interactive exercise is that you are due to meet an individual (e.g. a peer, direct report or partner) and you need to convince them to take a particular course of action that you believe is the most effective to solve the issue at hand.
In other words, it’s just like the many meetings that you have each and every day at work. So, whether the exercise is based around a performance management challenge of a ‘poor’ cop, a welfare issue with a direct report or another operational problem with a partner, remember it’s just a meeting!
Now, I’m assuming that you don’t just rock up to these meetings in real life without at least a degree of preparation, however, officers often seem to forget this in an assessment centre and it’s a major reason why they fail their board.
So, what are some of the issues we see at bselectedpolice?
1. Officers show a lack of empathy with the role player – the agenda is driven by their own requirements rather than those of the role player.
2. Officers are not inquisitive enough – they simply don’t ask questions to find out ‘why’.
3. Or they have an interrogational style – asking question after question and not really listening to the answers.
4. Officers are overly directive – a little of the ‘I know best’ or ‘it’s my way or the highway’ attitude creeps in.
5. Officers impose solutions that they feel are correct – with little thought given to the actual requirements of the role player.
All these issues result in barriers being put up by role player. They feel railroaded, not listened to and therefore the meeting usually goes belly up, with no one getting a satisfactory outcome to the issues at hand.
How to Improve Your Performance
Ultimately candidates need to show interest and understanding in the role player and find out their needs. The way to do this is by asking questions…well, I mean effective questions!
In order to do this well you need a structure. The structure we use at bselectedpolice is our unique PASS-C© structure:
P – Prepare
A – Ask
S – Summarise
S – propose Solution
C – gain Commitment
Using a structure is important – it is professional and will be expected of you. It ensures you know if the meeting is going well (or badly), gives you control, saves you time and ultimately helps you solve the problem that you are faced with by uncovering what the issue actually is, so you can then recommend a suitable solution.
Remember, no question type is good or bad in its own right, but each question asked must be carefully and thoughtfully chosen, tailored to the individual or situation and linked to your objective for the meeting. It is not about asking questions for questions sake. You should only ask questions if you want to know the answer and it helps move you toward your objective.
When in discussion with your role-player, you must be careful that you don’t fall into the trap of just blindly asking pre-prepared questions one after another. And if you don’t respond to the answer given to a question you have asked, it will sound ridged and interrogational. This will annoy the role-player and they may be briefed to become awkward.
You must listen and respond with a range of questions that follow on logically from your previous questions – be agile, don’t just ask what was pre planned.
A massive issue is that, although most candidates know that they need to ask questions, they jump straight in to presenting a solution (as this is what they feel comfortable with and have knowledge of). If you do this, you will miss opportunities to ask questions that will increase the relevant information that you need to help you shape your proposal in order to meet their needs more closely. The role-player will feel frustrated, not listened to and will no doubt become uncooperative.
So, in order to ask better questions and increase your effectiveness at role plays its essential to have an effective structure.
The bselectedpolice Online Learning Programme includes a course on the role play. It will explain the PASS-C structure in detail and show you how to implement it so you can perform to the very best of your ability in the role play
You can buy the programme here: