Police Officer Selection Process

Being a police officer is both a challenging and rewarding role. Our selection process is designed to identify people who demonstrate that they have the potential to become fully effective in the role - simply, to be the best officers they are capable of being.

We strongly recommend that you can comfortably meet the National Fitness Assessment Standard before you submit your application as your fitness level will be assessed at an early stage of our selection process. If you don't pass you will have to wait a further six months before re-applying, so make sure you're ready before you start the selection process.

Selection Process

The selection process is a combination of elements that enable us to assess your overall suitability and is broken down into the following stages:

Application Form

The first step is completing our national application form which you can download from the 'How To Apply' section. Please note that we do not accept CVs. You must complete all sections of the form and disclose all material information.

Before you start you need to check that you meet the minimum essential criteria as detailed in the 'Eligibility' section.

The questions on the application form ask you to provide answers about the following:

What drives and motivates you to want to become a police officer; What are your expectations about the type of duties that police officers undertake; What impact do you think being a police officer will have on your social/domestic life; What preparation have you done before applying; What experience and skills do you have that will help you to be an effective police officer.

So it's important that you think carefully about your answers. It is likely that you will need to undertake some research in order to help you answer the job related questions on the application form, so you will need to be prepared to spend time doing some research to ensure you are able to complete your application form to a good standard.

The responses you provide to each question will be assessed so make sure your application is fully completed, well presented, clear and concise. You should not use abbreviations or text language. The application must be all your own work. Be honest and you should expect to be asked questions on any of the answers you provide later in the selection process.

If you pass the application paper-sift stage you will be invited to sit the Standard Entrance Test and/or the national fitness assessment.  You are required to pass both of these stages before being invited to attend for an interview.

Standard Entrance Test (SET)

The test is made up of three papers and there are three different versions of the test.  The test covers: language, numbers and information handling. Use of a calculator is permitted when completing the numbers paper.

You must pass all three test papers to proceed to the next stage.

You will be afforded automatic re-sits should you fail the SET subject to the maximum of three attempts in total. 

To help you get ready we've created sample test papers for you to practice with. To find them scroll down to the bottom of this page where there is a list of PDF documents which you can download. 

Dyslexic Candidates 

We are committed to making our selection process and facilities as accessible as possible for all applicants and employees.

If you have or think you have dyslexia you can contact recruitment on 01355 566350 for guidance on how we can help you. 

Initial Fitness Assessment

Being a police officer is both physically and mentally challenging. The national fitness assessment will require you to undertake a Multi Stage Fitness Test (MSFT) in accordance with the standards outlined in the relevant Police Scotland National Fitness Standard document at the bottom of this page.

The assessment measures cardiovascular fitness. This means the ability of your heart and lungs to provide sufficient oxygen to the working muscles to allow them to sustain a rhythmical activity involving large muscle groups (i.e. running, cycling, swimming) for an extended period of time.

The assessment is based on age and gender as detailed in the table below.

National Fitness Standard
  Males  Females 
 Age (Years) M.S.F.T. (Level) M.S.F.T. (Level) 
 <29 9.2  7.3 
 30-39 8.8  6.7 
 40-49 8.2 6.1 
 50-59 6.8  5.2 


To help you with your preparation and for training purposes, you may find the attached MSFT training video and downloads of use. You should measure out a level, 15-metre long training space in order to utilise these downloads fully.

  1. Bleep Test - Intro
  2. Bleep Test - Get Ready
  3. The Bleep Test

NB The Bleep tests are in MP3 format and require an MP3 supported player (e.g Windows Media Player or Winamp)

Bleep Test Video

Only after you have passed this stage can you move forward to the next part of the recruiting process. If you fail the initial fitness assessment you will need to wait six months before you can reapply.

For further information and to assist with your preparation please download the fitness guidance at the bottom of this page.

Initial Interview

If you pass the SET and the initial fitness assessment, you will be invited to an interview with two members of the local recruiting team. Preparation and research is really important as we expect you to have an appreciation of what the role of a probationary police officer involves.

The force website is a really useful research tool that is accessible to everyone.  This includes information about our values and purpose, our local policing Divisions as well as key information about our priorities and what we are focusing on in terms of local and national initiatives.  You can also widen your research by visiting local police stations and/or talking to probationers and other serving officers.

This is the first opportunity for us to find out more about you.  Being prepared is really important as we'll ask you questions relating to each of the behavioural competencies below.  The questions are designed to let you tell us about your own experiences, skills and aptitiudes:

  • Personal effectiveness
  • Team work
  • Respect for diversity
  • Personal awareness
  • Service delivery
  • Job knowledge 

In addition we will seek to ensure that you have an awareness of our code of ethics. A copy is available to download in the What we are looking for section

Vetting

Your application will remain subject to our vetting procedures throughout. This is undertaken by the Police Scotland Vetting Unit, which is independent of the Recruiting Department.

The vetting process will normally commence after your first interview but is an ongoing process. You should be aware that full vetting approval may not be made until the latter stages of the recruitment process.

Criminal Record

Convictions, warnings or cautions will not necessarily preclude you from appointment. It will depend on their nature and the circumstances of the offence(s). Failure to disclose convictions or cautions will, however, result in your application being terminated.

You must declare if you have ever been investigated, arrested, summonsed, charged, cautioned or convicted for an offence by any UK or non-UK Police Force, Law Enforcement Agency or any other statutory prosecuting authority or agency.

This includes, but is not limited to, all convictions for any past offences, formal cautions by the police (including cautions as a juvenile, ie under 18 years) and receipt of an absolute or conditional discharge or bindover imposed by any court. You should include traffic convictions such as speeding, drink-drive offences, fixed penalties for motoring or disorder offences and any appearances before a court martial.

You must also declare if you have ever been involved in any criminal investigation whether or not this led to prosecution (either of yourself or others). You must include any adverse interaction with the police including where your personal particulars have been noted other than as a witness or complainer.

If you believe you have been involved in a police investigation or incident, you must let us know. Some applicants do not declare information which they believe is no longer held on record. However, our enquiries will reveal all historical incidents and failure to disclose these will lead to your application being rejected. If you have any doubts, include the details and let us decide if they are relevant.

We will also want to know whether any of your close family or associates are involved in criminal activity and we will therefore search for any criminal convictions or cautions recorded against your family. You must advise them that these enquiries will be made.  Police Scotland cannot disclose the result of these enquiries to you.

Financial Status

Will you be able to manage your financial affairs on a probationer officer's basic salary?

Police officers are in a privileged position with regard to access to information and could be considered potentially vulnerable to corruption. Applicants to the police service should therefore not be under pressure from un-discharged debts or liabilities and should be able to manage loans and debts sensibly.

Police regulations also state that a member of a police force shall not willfully refuse or neglect to discharge a lawful debt. Applications will therefore be checked to determine and verify their financial position.

Tattoos

Tattoos are not necessarily a bar to appointment. However, some tattoos could potentially offend members of the public or colleagues, or could bring discredit to the police service. It depends on their size, nature and location, and sometimes on the extent.

If you have tattoos, you must describe their nature, words, extent, size and location.

Tattoos, regardless of language or symbolic format, whether visible of otherwise are not acceptable if they:

  • Are on the face (subject to religious or medical reasons)
  • Undermine the dignity and authority of the office of constable;
  • Could cause offence to members of the public or colleagues and/or invite provocation;
  • Indicate unacceptable attitudes towards any individual or section of the community
  • Indicate alignment with a particular group which could give offence to members of the public or colleagues;
  • Are considered inflammatory, rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating.

Business Interests

Unless the Chief Constable decides otherwise, applicants will not normally be eligible for appointment as a police officer if they have other business interests. Therefore, to comply with regulations, applicants must complete the business interest section of the vetting form.

However, the Chief Constable may decide to allow the business interest, if he thinks it is compatible with being a member of Police Scotland.

Assessment Centre

During the one day assessment centre you will take part in three practical exercises and a further interview designed to assess the skills and attributes required for the role of police constable. The competencies assessed are:

Practical exercises:

  • Effective communication
  • Personal effectiveness
  • Team working
  • Respect for diversity
  • Personal awareness
  • Problem solving

Interview:

  • Effective communication
  • Personal effectiveness
  • Job knowledge
  • Personal awareness
  • Leadership
  • Partnership working

Medical

The Scottish Executive has set guidelines regarding pre-employment medical criteria. The medical is one of the final stages of the selection process. Applicants will be issued with a provisional offer of appointment prior to attending for their medical with a suitably qualified doctor.

As a result we do not require any health or medical related information. However if you have a disability which may require the force to provide you with any form of reasonable adjustment at any stage of the process then you should advise us accordingly so that provision can be made to support your needs.

There are guidelines available that lay out the mandatory national eyesight standards that all applicants are required to meet. If you are uncertain about your eyesight standard, it is recommended that you visit an optician to ascertain whether or not you meet the requisite standard. A copy of the mandatory national eyesight standard guidelines can be downloaded from the list of pdf files at the bottom of this page.

You MUST NOT submit or provide any information relating to your eyesight standard or any other medical condition prior to attending for the medical appointment at the end of the selection process.

Whilst it is appreciated that you may have some concerns, it is worthy of note that recruiting staff are not qualified to make any judgement or comment relating to an applicant's confidential health status.

To avoid unnecessary disappointment it is therefore incumbent on you to ascertain as far as is reasonably possible that you are medically fit for the role prior to submitting an application.

For your information the BMI (Body Mass Index) should be between 18-30, however this will not be assessed until the medical stage.

If you are not passed fit by the Force Medical Advisor, you may ultimately have your provisional offer of appointment deferred or even withdrawn.

However wherever possible the force will give full consideration to the identification of reasonable adjustments.

Substance Misuse Testing

You will be subject to a substance misuse test as part of the recruitment process. We reserve the right to undertake this test at any stage of the process.

Final Fitness Assessment

Your fitness will be tested again prior to appointment and therefore it is incumbent on you to maintain your fitness levels in preparation for your appointment as a police constable.

The assessment will again be based on the Scottish National Fitness Standard and will be the multi stage fitness test.

Failure to pass the final fitness test will result in an automatic rejection without exception.

You will be required to satisfy the National fitness standard during your two year probation if recruited into Police Scotland. Failure to meet the fitness standard during your probation will normally result in being discharged from the service.

Final Stages

The provisional offer of appointment is subject to the following final formal stages of the selection process being fully satisifed:

  1. Being passed fit at the force medical, which includes the eye-sight standards;
  2. Satisfactory final employer reference being received;
  3. All final vetting checks being approved;
  4. Substance misuse results being clear;
  5. No new matter subsequently arising that throws doubt on the suitability of the candidate to undertake the role of a police officer.

Should any of the above stages not be fully satisfied, the provisional offer of appointment may be deferred or even withdrawn, depending on the individual circumstances.

The entire selection process is designed to be challenging. The length of time to complete the process will vary according to ongoing demand levels and the applicant's personal circumstances. You will, however, be notified regarding your progress as you complete various stages of the process.

You are responsible for notifying us of any change that may affect your application immediately. This could include a change to any of your personal details such as change of address, getting married or changing jobs.

Should you become involved with the police for any matter whatsoever, failure to disclose this information to the Recruiting Department at the time could have a detrimental effect on your application.

You may find it useful to download a copy of the STAR Guidance which will assist you prepare for the competency based assessment elements of our selection process.

Please Note: Police Scotland is not affiliated with any organisation that claims to train people for recruiting into Police Scotland. If you have any queries regarding the recruitment process please direct these to our recruiting team via the contact page.

Related Documents

PDF files on this page require a PDF reader, such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (download).