What Is the Prison Officer Selection Process?
The selection process for correctional officers is very demanding. There are a variety of screenings, tests, and exercises that the applicant must complete. These activities are compiled into four rounds of recruitment that target the candidate’s cognitive and emotional intelligence.
The initial screening is the application. The applicant must list past work experience, education and associations. The associations are an important part because if the National Offender Management Service finds the applicant is linked with offensive organisations, they will be barred from consideration.
At the end of the application form are a handful of questions. The questions are competency-based and behavioural. Some questions are about the candidate’s openness with the vetting process and what they are willing to disclose.
Prison Officer Assessments
The assessments stage can be separated into their own little stages. First, there are online assessments. These are sent in a link via email to the candidate. The assessments should be completed within three to five days. The results of these psychometric tests provide the company with details of the candidate’s intelligence and personality.
When the online assessments are finished, the candidate will be asked to participate in a physical exam and a fitness exam. Both must be completed in person at one of the company’s assessment centres.
Below are the assessments that the applicant may encounter during the prison officer selection process.
- Math Test
The math test is a forty-minute assessment. The questions act out hypothetical scenarios where the officer must help one of the inmates with calculations. These calculations could be simple ratios, conversions or the basic mathematical operations. There are fifty-nine total questions, each multiple-choice. A few of the questions will use graphs and charts while others are word problems. Applicants will have to retake this assessment during one of the role-play exercises.
- Situational Judgment Test (SJT)
The SJT is a tailored behavioural test for prospective correctional officers. This is a timed assessment with twenty-four total questions. A set of eight questions is paired with one hypothetical scenario. The hypothetical scenario details a common event that may occur in a prison including conflicts or high-stress situations. The test taker must choose, from six answer choices, the best and worst action to take in the given scenario. Each scenario has a three-minute time limit. The results of this assessment inform the company of how well the candidate works under pressure and how well they can find resolutions.
After these aptitude and behavioural tests, there will be a physical exam. The physical exam tests five different areas of strength and endurance:
- Grip Test
The candidate must be able to grip twenty-five kilograms in both their left and right hands.
- Endurance Test
The candidate must run at an increasing pace. A soundtrack will initiate the pace they should be running at. If the candidate has not reached the other side of the gym by the time the soundtrack beeps, they are disqualified.
- Speed Agility Test
The candidate will be instructed to run and shuffle around a series of cones. They must demonstrate their ability to move quickly and with the proper footwork.
- Dyno Test
The candidate must push and pull thirty kilograms of weight. The candidate has five attempts per exercise and three practice attempts.
- Shield Test
The candidate is asked to hold a shield above their head in a particular position for about a minute.
Once the physical test is complete, there is a basic fitness exam to ensure the candidate is healthy enough to perform the tasks and responsibilities of the job. The fitness exam appraises the candidate’s general health as well as their hearing and vision.
The pre-interview screening is a series of background checks. This includes the candidate’s work history, criminal record, education, etc. The candidate must meet the company’s standards in order to proceed to the next stage of the interview process. Check the website to see what personal factors could affect an invitation to the interviews.
Interview & Role-Play Exercise
The interviews and role-play exercises are the final stages of the prison officer recruitment process. The interview is made up primarily of competency-based questions. The interviewer is looking for the candidate’s ability to demonstrate the qualities they look for in their employees.
The role-play exercises will play out common scenarios on the job. Other role-play exercises will illustrate more stressful situations that the candidate could encounter on the job. The candidate will play the role of the officer and the interviewers will play the role of an inmate or colleague.
How to Prepare for the Prison Officer Assessments?
The prison officer assessments create a barrier for many of the applicants. The pressure of the time limits and the amount of questions makes it easy to become flustered during the tests. To go into these tests as confident as possible, you must devote enough time toward preparing for these tests.
The questions on the math test are usually regarded as easy. The thing the trips up most of the applicants is the short amount of time they must answer each question. Preparing with online practice tests is a great way to succeed on the math test. The online practice tests replicate the conditions of the genuine assessment which allows you to become comfortable with navigating the questions and time constraints. Practising this way also helps you find the pace that works best for you. At the end of the test, you get to see your final score. This score is an indication of how well you will do on the genuine test and how much more practice you should put in.
The situational judgment test is a little more difficult to prepare for because the assessment gauges your natural instincts and reactions. However, if you want to get a leg up you could refer to the company’s website to review their values. The company values provide insight as to what the recruiters are looking for in their employees and candidates. After you have taken a look at the values, run through some sample questions. Practice aligning your answers to the company’s expectations. This way, you present yourself in the best possible light.
The physical test is an important assessment to prepare for. Luckily, the company has a training outline on their website. Practice these exercises to be fully prepared for the fitness exam.
It is important to recognise that you have your work cut out for you. You must be willing to put in the time in order to secure this opportunity. Review the steps above, do some research, and practice, practice, practice. Best of luck!