Prison Officer Assessment Day – 2019 Success Guide

Prison-officer-assessment-day

Prison Officer Assessment Day Success Guide

The Prison Officer Assessment Day is a notoriously difficult recruitment event, but this success guide will tell you what to expect and how to succeed on the day.

3 important points before we begin

  • Before you’re invited to attend the prison officer assessment day you have to pass the Prison Officer Selection Test (POST). Practice the POST test here.


Give yourself an advantage & prepare perfectly

Click here to download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet

Prison Officer Assessment Day Overview

Your Prison Officer Assessment Day will be made up of the following:

      • Role plays
      • A POST verification test
      • A POST language test
      • A medical examination
      • A fitness test.

It is a mandatory requirement for successful candidates that all aspects of the Prison Officer Assessment Day are passed.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each requirement in more detail.

Prison Officer Assessment Day Role Plays

Roleplays are a very effective way of assessing the skills you possess; your strengths and weaknesses both intellectually and from an inter-personal point of view.

The Prison Officer roleplays can be a very daunting prospect but there are plenty of techniques you can use to boost your chances of success.

Two quick resources that will help you

      • There’s a whole section of this site dedicated to exploring roleplay techniques, but the best place to start is our roleplay success guide.
      • If you think you need some nerve busting or confidence tips, click here.

Assessment Areas

You’ve chosen a career path that is varied and challenging, so your roleplay is very broad ranging in nature. The assessors will primarly be looking at how you interact and communicate with others. These are the interpersonal skills that will be assessed:

      • Assertion – Can you handle pressure without showing aggression? Can you look to resolve conflict without backing down on your position? Can you show respect as well as authority?
      • Understanding – Are you able to empathise with others? Are you able to show sympathy when a problem may arise? Do you truly listen?
      • Respecting those around you – Are you able to treat people with dignity? Can you be respectful to people of different cultures and backgrounds? Can you appropriately deal with discrimination?
      • Non‐verbal communication – Body language is important. Are you able to use positive non-verbal communication? An example is open hand gestures, whilst talking. It implies honesty and openness. Do you maintain eye contact? Avoid folded arms! This creates a barrier between you and your assessor and is seen as a very negative gesture.
      • Questioning and Clarification – Are you able to investigate and ask questions, in order to solve a problem? Can you clarify that you understand the issue?
      • Integrity – Do you believe in doing the right thing? Will you report unreasonable behaviour?
      • Suspending Judgement – Are you able to listen without interrupting? Are you able to comprehend the whole situation before deciding on the best course of action?

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Stop worrying! Download a 12-step assessment day cheatsheet & be perfectly prepared.

Click here to download your copy

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The roleplay format

You will roleplay with a recording – completing 5 in total, with the assessors analysing your responses. Each roleplay lasts for 10 minutes and you will have ten minutes beforehand to read through the profiles for each scenario.

All scenarios will be based on situations that could arise when carrying out your job but they will not necessarily be Prison Officer-based.

At least one roleplay will analyse your suitability for working with young people.

Prison Officer Roleplay Video

This is a helpful video from NOMS:

Prison Officer POST Verification Test

You have to pass the Prison Officer Selection Test to be invited to the Prison Officer Assessment Day, but you must take another POST test at the assessment day. (This is to validate that you are the candidate who took the original test!)

This POST test is shorter in length, at just twenty minutes long, but it is more difficult than the original POST test.

We can’t stress this strongly enough: You MUST practice for this POST test to fully prepare yourself; nothing will boost your chances of success more than practicing, identifying your weak points and improving on them.

You can practice the numerical element of the Prison Officer Selection Test (POST) here.

Prison Officer Selection Test – Language Test

Here you will be assessed on your reading, writing and form filling skills. The test is 45 minutes long and has 2 sections:

      • Section 1 – You will be asked to fill in a form by extracting the required information from a detailed brief or piece of writing.
      • Section 2 – You will be asked to analyse information, to check that it fulfils a set of criteria supplied.

This test assesses all aspects of your verbal reasoning ability.

You can get hold of a similar verbal reasoning test here and you can read our free verbal reasoning success guide here.

The Prison Officer Assessment Day Medical

The role of Prison Officer requires you to be fit and healthy, so the medical examination plays a pivotal part in the application process.

The assessment criteria for the medical is as follows:

      • You will be required to complete a health questionnaire, which will be analysed by a Nursing Practitioner. The questionnaire will explore your overall health and any existing conditions.
      • Your weight and height will be taken and your BMI calculated.
      • You will have an Eye Test. You must be able to meet a minimum of standard eyesight in both eyes. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, these can be worn, so don’t forget them!
      • Your blood pressure will be checked. If your blood pressure is higher than 170/80, it will be taken again. If after the second check, it still remains high, you will not be permitted to take part in the fitness test.

The Prison Officer Assessment Day Fitness Test

You’ve chosen a career that requires you to have a good standard of fitness, so if you feel you’re lacking in this department, it is time to break out a sweat!

Luckily, fitness is something that can be improved upon and you are making the first step in the preparation by understanding what will be required of you.

The following fitness tests will be carried out:

      • Bleep Test – This is running between a set of points in a given time period (Or bleeps). The bleeps will speed up as the levels of the test progress. To practise for this test, aim to be jogging for around twenty minutes and completing a distance of at least 1.5 miles.
      • Obstacle course – This is misleading as the only obstacles you will have to endure are a series of plastic cones but they must be completed in 34 seconds. Your jogging practise for the bleep test will more than cover any practise required here.
      • Riot Shield Test – You need to able to hold a 7kg shield in front of you, with one leg in front of the other, for one continuous minute. Any exercise that will strengthen your arms and upper body will be a good practise.
      • Grip Test – Your grip will be tested by a piece of equipment that measures kilograms by force. You need to reach at least 25kg.
      • Push and Pull Resistance Test – This will test your strength by measuring the force of kilogrammes when you push/pull against the equipment provided. The minimum requirement is 35kg.

All of the above tasks will be explained and/or demonstrated several times before you begin. Remember to bring your sport kit and shower kit with you.

Completing the Prison Officer Assessment Day

If you pass all of the requirements on the day, you will then be able to apply for any current vacancies. (You can find more info here and here.)

It is at this stage you will be required to attend an interview and have further background and criminal record checks.

Important! Update your CV before your interview

Lots of candidates make the mistake of thinking they don't need to improve their CV once they've been invited to interview.

Big mistake. Here's why:

1) You should update your CV before the interview event and take a fresh, new-and-improved version with you. (Ideally one that is TAILORED to the role you want.)

2) At interviews and assessment days, your CV will form the basis of your interview. (Whether the interview is competency-based or not.) You'll be expected to answer questions on your CV and usually to walk your interviewer through it.

3) This is the big one: After you've left your interview or assessment day, your CV will be held in the hands of the people who are making the hiring decision. They will literally be looking at your CV while making the hiring decision.

(I've been in this position many times. After spending an entire day meeting and interviewing lots of people, the candidates' CVs are the documents you use to remind yourself which candidate was which and also to revisit the candidates' skills and experience.)

Your CV summarizes the 'professional benefits' of you and is what leaves the last impression. So one last time: Your CV makes your first and last impression; it's a crucial document. Make is as strong as it can be.

Prep resources quick-list

Good luck!

We hope you found this free guide useful? Good luck at your Prison Officer Assessment Day!

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