Sift and online assessment process

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Everything you need to know about the sift and online assessment process, with links to the candidate guidance.

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Updated
Written by College of Policing

After you've applied to join a force, you will complete a sift followed by the online assessment process. This process includes a series of exercises that test the key competencies and values that are important for the role of police constable.

The assessment was originally done face-to-face and called SEARCH or Day One. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the assessment process is now run online.

Sifting process

The number of exercises you complete in this process depends on the force you apply to and their sifting process. There are three types of sifting process.

In-force sift

Your recruiting force can provide you with information about their sifting process.

National sift

The national sift consists of two exercises. These reflect the competencies and values relevant to the role of a police constable. You will be asked to complete a situational judgement test (SJT) and a behavioural style questionnaire.

Situational judgement test (SJT)

The SJT measures your ability to choose appropriate actions in situations similar to those you could face as a police constable. The SJT measures your judgement and ability to make effective decisions against the competency and values framework.

Please note that if you are required to do the SJT, you will need to complete it in the same sitting as the competency-based interview (CBI) from the online assessment process. 

Online assessment process

There are three exercises in the online assessment process – a competency-based interview, a written exercise and a briefing exercise.

Competency-based interview (CBI)

You will be asked a series of questions about how you have dealt with specific situations in the past. This is your opportunity to provide some examples of the key competencies and values that are important for police constables. You can use examples from both your work and your personal life.

Written exercise

In this exercise, you will assume the role of a police constable and will have to complete an urgent written task for your line manager. You will receive four items of information to help you with this task.

Briefing exercise

In this exercise, you will assume the role of a police constable and will have responsibility for dealing with some issues presented to you. You will be tasked with providing a response to a number of questions in relation to this issue. You will be provided with preparation materials to consider your answer.

Watch our video for more information about how to prepare for the online assessment process.

Reasonable adjustments and accommodations

Some people taking online assessments need extra help or more time.

If you have any condition that might cause you to be disadvantaged during the online assessment process, temporary or otherwise (for example, pregnancy, injury, medical conditions, disability or neurodivergence such as dyslexia and autism) you may be entitled to accommodation or reasonable adjustment.

Any accommodation or reasonable adjustment provided for the online assessment process will be based on the supporting information provided to your recruiting force in a relevant report, produced by an appropriately qualified professional.

Reasonable adjustments may include additional time in the exercises or other adjustments as recommended by a specialist.

If you believe you may have a condition that could disadvantage you, contact the force you are applying to directly. They will be able to assist you with your application for accommodation or reasonable adjustment.

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