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Group debate

Police Scotland Assessment Centre Guide

Group debate

Once you pass the previous assessments, you will be invited to the Police Scotland assessment centre, which should be close to the division you are applying to. If you’re not familiar with assessment centres, they are a day of activities and interviews intended to identify the most qualified candidates. In this guide we will explain what to expect at your Police Scotland Assessment Centre.

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About The Police Scotland Assessment Centre

On Your Police Scotland assessment day, you’ll be required to complete the following tests.

  • Three practical exercises in groups
  • One competency-based interview

Group Exercises

During the assessment centre, you will be required to participate in some group exercises focusing on teamwork and communication. Throughout the group exercises, you will have to demonstrate the following competencies;

  • Emotionally aware
  • Taking ownership
  • Working collaboratively
  • Deliver, support, and inspire
  • Analyse critically
  • Innovative and open-minded

The activities within the group can range from debating to a physical activity like creating something. Group activities are typically used in an assessment centre to determine how you function in a group environment and how you interact with other people. Working within a group is crucial as a police officer, and being able to collaborate with colleagues will help you become a great Police Officer.

Group activities go beyond communication; they all you to demonstrate:

  • The dynamics between you and others
  • How you deal with conflict
  • Whether you can come up with ideas
  • How obstructive you might be
  • How you respond to the opinions of others
  • How you incorporate ideas from others
  • How well you work together

Group activities are intended to test your reaction to situations around people and how you deal with pressure. This is essential as the role of an officer is a high-pressure role. As you’ll see from this article, it’s essential for police officers to keep a calm and calm approach and keep control of their emotions.

Group debate

What are the Police Scotland assessment centre activities?

There are many group exercises which could come up. The assessors at Police Scotland could ask you to complete any group activity, but the principles are the same, and they are looking for the same skills and competencies.

What to expect during the Assessment Centre

Firstly your group will be given an exercise, and you will be assigned a role. You might also receive additional information to go through. You’ll then be asked to enter the classroom where you can perform the task. There may be people sitting on chairs against the wall; these are generally the observers, who will serve as the assessors for this exercise. They observe you during the entire activity and record important information about your body language, comments and conduct during the exercise.

They will not talk to you throughout the exercise and will often stay in the room long after you’ve gone. Perform the task exactly as you would in the real world. As you advance, you’ll become more engaged with the activity, this is when your true behaviour is displayed. But remember to keep in mind that you will be assessed continuously. The task generally takes an hour, but remain calm throughout, ensure everyone has a turn at speaking, put forward your ideas and work together.

What Are The Assessment Activities?

Police Scotland Icebreaker Exercise

The Icebreaker exercise is nothing to be worried about. It will help you ease into the assessment centre, feel comfortable and get the conversation flowing in your group.

Team Meeting Exercise

The idea is to recreate a team meeting. If this option is chosen, you will be provided with a plan as well as notes. There will always be a problem which must be addressed during the meeting. The problem can divide the group but remember the examiners will be looking for a group approach, so you won’t be rewarded for controversial opinions. If you’ve been assigned a problem to deal with, ensure that you complete the team’s task and don’t evade the issue or lose track of time. Also avoid eye-rolling, sarcastic glances or joking about others’ contributions. Be inclusive, no matter what their opinions are!

Problem Solving Exercise

Again this group exercise will give you an issue or problem that you have to work on as a group and ultimately try to solve. Most candidates are focused exclusively on solving the problem, but the assessment is based on your skills, not the outcome. In reality, the issue is not easily solved, and you may never come to a solution. The best that you could do is make progress with the group and work as a team to find a solution. Remember;

  • It is not a race to the quickest solution
  • You must involve everyone in the discussions
  • Work out first how you are going to work together as a group
  • Ensure everyone has a chance to speak
  • Write down everyone’s thoughts
  • Don’t worry if haven’t solved the problem by the end.

Decision-Making Exercise

Decision-making is very similar to problem-solving; however, it differs slightly as you should be able to come to a decision. Again they are not necessarily looking for the correct answer but will assess the decision-making process. They will be assessing how you integrate other people’s opinions and form a joint plan or solution.

It can be a good idea to create a decision grid; it is the most effective way to decide as a group. You will create your ideas on the side of the page with the criteria on the top. Using this method will allow you to assess your ideas based on the objectives not emotions. This provides you with a rational way of making a choice.

Debating Exercise

Participating in a group debate can be fun and thought-provoking. Not only do you demonstrate how you interact together and in a group, but you also demonstrate your beliefs and thinking processes. It’s impossible to discuss a topic without giving an insight into your thinking process. When debating the subject, take a moment to think about how you feel about this issue. It’s extremely difficult to discuss this issue without sharing your beliefs and values. Ensure any answer you give is ethical, legal and fair.

Also, consider how you would feel from the opposing perspective. Be inclusive and hear everyone’s point of view and put yourself in their shoes. Debates are often full of opposing views, but there’s usually mutual ground, which each side can reach an agreement. There will be many opinions, so ensure it doesn’t become an argument and remember it’s not acceptable to have a single viewpoint; during this exercise, you need to support your view and see it from both sides. Remember ;

  • It’s a debate, not an argument – It needs a structure.
  • Start by asking everyone to share their views.
  • Decide as a group how you are going to include everyone’s ideas.
  • Work together to find areas of common agreement.
  • Remember, you are still being observed be ethical fair and legal.

Negotiating Exercise

Negotiating is an extremely important skill for a Police officer. The debate could be centred around a view you hold, but when you are in a negotiation, the focus is on convincing and influencing the other party to accept your point of view. To achieve this, finding common ground that you can agree on is crucial because once we identify an area of agreement, we can discuss our differences at that point. Police officers must all be able to negotiate.

We can’t provide specific details about the tasks you’ll face in the exam centre, as there is a wide range of group activities you may be asked to participate in; we can offer you a few sample exercises that are similar to the ones you’ll be taking.

After you’ve completed our group exercise, we can continue with the assessment centre interview

Police group task

Police Scotland Assessment Centre Interview

Before you go into this interview, it is important to conduct extensive research and prepare. Police Scotland will expect you to prove that you’ve got an understanding of the role, the police force, its values and ethics, and what their priorities are. Police Scotland also encourages applicants to visit their nearby police station and meet with officers to find out about their job and responsibilities.

Competency-Based Questions

Compentecy-based interview questions are becoming more frequent in job interviews, so it’s important to be prepared to answer these types of questions. A competency-based question focuses on a particular skill and the way you’ve used this skill previously.
You could, for example, be asked to give us an example of where you’ve dealt with a rude customer at work.

Questions you could be asked vary from interview to interview. A recent candidate was asked, “Tell me how you work with a difficult colleague?”

You need to provide an example from your experience and how you used the competency to come to a resolution. It’s hard not to give a superman example when being asked competency-based questions, but your example can be simple as long as it hits the competency indicators and is formatted well. You should explain what YOU did. When answering questions in a situation, try to organise the responses you give clearly and concisely. The best way to accomplish this is by using the ‘STAR’ method for your answers.

Please study and review the CVF competency and values framework before your interview. We find it best to think of examples for each competency before the interview.

STAR Method for Police interview questions


This is the “situation” you encountered and the people involved. Set the Scene.


Once you’ve outlined the situation, describe what the task was needed to be undertaken


Explain what action you took and explain why you chose the particular action. This part is to showcase the competency and link it to the actions you undertook.


Describe the results and outcomes of your actions. Explain what you would change if the same scenario again. Be open and honest, its shows you can learn from your actions.

Police Assessment Centre Competencies

The assessment centre interview will revolve around the following competencies:

  • Emotionally aware
  • Taking ownership
  • Working collaboratively
  • Deliver, support, and inspire
  • Analyse critically
  • Innovative and open-minded

You will likely be asked, at minimum, one question based on each of these competencies. In addition, it is not uncommon for interviewers to ask two or three Police knowledge-based questions in addition to this. When you respond to the competency questions, follow the STAR method to answer them, and you won’t be too far off.

View our example Police Scotland interview questions or further reading on the vetting process.

Tom Brook

Tom Brook

I am a former Police Detective with years of knowledge and experience in investigating serious crimes across Scotland, working with communities and keeping the public safe. I aim to give back to the Policing community with this site!
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