Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Police Assessment Centers and Promotional Testing — Start Preparing Now

Police Assessment Centers and Promotional Testing — When should you start preparing? That is a question I am asked repeatedly. Let me share some thoughts about that, and you decide.

I’m getting things together for the class I present entitled: Professional Development Through Assessment Center Preparation. It’s for law enforcement officers who are preparing for Assessment Centers for promotion to the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain.

An Assessment Center is a process employing multiple processes (called exercises) and multiple assessors (usually 3 to a panel) to produce judgments regarding the degree to which a participant displays selected competencies–Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSAs)–needed for a position.

The average Assessment Center has 3-5 exercises, which might include a

  • Role-Play
  • In-Basket Management exercise
  • Structured Interview
  • Written Exercise
  • Oral Presentation
  • Critical Incident exercise
  • Staffing exercise or similar activities

 The panel observes each candidate while he or she presents or participates in the exercises, or the panel reads the work of a candidate, and assigns ratings about how many behaviors are displayed in the competency areas being tested. Among the competency areas are often: Oral and Written Communication, Job Knowledge, Problem Solving, Interpersonal Awareness And Skills, Leadership Traits, Role-Readiness, and other key competency areas.

The concept is very logical and is designed to identify candidates who have a high potential for success in a rank, rather than relying solely on a one hour Oral Board or similar process.

(I think this is when I’m supposed to mention that I have a book on the subject of Assessment Center preparation, which has been used by candidates and those developing ACs, and found to be helpful in many ways. Don’t hesitate to buy it!

All of that brings me to the title of this post and the question I’m often asked: When should I start preparing for an Assessment Center? I usually say, “Now!” What I’m thinking is, “The day you started at the Academy is about right.” Preparing for an Assessment Center involves first preparing for the rank or position, and that is a career-long process, no matter what the rank or position.

 The same thing is true of any promotional situation, in any profession. A promotional interview or assessment requires a foundation of effective experiences and those take time to accumulate. It’s true that verbal skills are helpful, but that’s not the only skill required for success.

Building a solid career is done through:

Effective work
Volunteering to participate in work that helps expand knowledge and skills
Being a good organizational citizen 
Reading, researching, communicating and reflecting.
Thinking past the basics and expanding your views of yourself and the organization.

You can’t do all of that in the two weeks before a promotional process!

If you intend to apply for promotion you will need to draw from every experience you have had in your career. In the time you have before you are interviewed or assessed, make lists that reflect your experiences and what you gained from them that could be applied to the new position. Look for chances to expand your thinking and develop your knowledge, skills and effective attitudes. 

It’s not too late to do better than you might have done otherwise. But remember, it’s never too soon to prepare yourself for increased responsbility–whether or not that involves a promotion.

Police Assessment Centers and Promotional Testing — When should you start preparing? Last year or the year before would have been good, but at least start today!

January 19th, 2008 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development | 2 comments