Earlier this month, I have highlighted the importance of being aware of and understanding your force mission and likewise understanding yourself. The focus of this third blog in the series of ‘7 Things interview boards also look for in promotion candidates’ is knowledge of the policing environment you are aspire to lead in. As a reminder, here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value:

  1. Good awareness and understanding of vision or mission
  2. Self-aware, understanding personal values and development areas
  3. Demonstrates awareness of the current policing context
  4. A response that goes beyond the theoretical
  5. Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team
  6. Well-structured and considered responses
  7. Demonstrate strong leadership skills grounded in service delivery

 So let’s get to Thing 3…

Thing 3: Demonstrates Awareness of the Current Policing Context

“Awareness is like the sun, when it shines on things they are transformed.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Gift promotion questionsA Gift

To be able to venture confidently beyond theoretical aspects of the role in your interview responses, it is helpful to have a solid knowledge of force issues and wider policing priorities.

“What challenges do you see to becoming an effective Sergeant/Inspector?”

Questions asked by a promotion board don’t really come any easier. In fact, that one should be wrapped up as a present. If you are well read and you know the role, questions like this are a gift.

Public expectation and scrutiny, technological developments, changing crime types and complexity of demand are a few challenges you might mention. There may also be some personal adjustment as you develop in transitioning to new supervisor, manager and leader.

“How would you summarise what is going on in policing today?”

That’s a question I might initially ask to ascertain awareness. “Austerity” is the most common initial response but the question serves well as a ‘snapshot’ of an individual’s awareness.

“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.” – Mark Twain

The point is if you include some reading, thinking as preparation on this ahead of a promotion opportunity you’ll elevate your awareness and competence.

Inspectors are expected to demonstrate more strategic awareness, so considering and thinking through issues from a force-wide, regional and also a national perspective is good preparation. Here’s another couple of questions to get you forward focused.

“If we promote you today what will you do? How will you do it?”

You won’t be asked these questions directly, but you may find them helpful to get you ‘focused forward’ on the contribution you see yourself making as Sergeant or Inspector and to demonstrate and reflect your understanding of the role in delivering service.

Good News

“Good luck is a residue of preparation.” – Jack Youngblood

There is some good news! Many resources to raise your awareness and support your promotion preparation are free or available at very little cost.

Here are a few options:

Polcing Vision 2025
Policing Vision 2025, by NPCC and Association of PCCs: http://www.npcc.police.uk/documents/Policing%20Vision.pdf

I could list more options but if you haven’t decided to take action by now, you can probably start to appreciate just how easy it can be for a promotion panel to pick up on the difference between well prepared candidates and others.


“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it, than we do from learning the answer itself.” – Lloyd Alexander

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a combination of approaches; ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. Candidates who approach promotion seriously will have a CPD plan, a tangible commitment to learning and improving.

It may include academic study; a plan to acquire desired or required skills or your development plan for promotion!

You may not be aware (many candidates are still not) that the College of Policing’s leadership review recommended all existing leaders take responsibility for their personal development.

If you were not aware and even if you are, you now have some resources above (and below) to make a start!

More Free Resources!

“Most people miss Opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison

One size doesn’t fit all and so to keep your finger on the pulse with wider policing issues, news or developments you might also consider registering on valuable information sites including:

  • Policing Insight
  • Police Hour
  • If you are on social media you might also choose to follow Rank Success on Facebook or Twitter, where useful articles and resource links are shared to help inform officers, including aspiring promotion candidates.

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” – Tony Robbins

Good, Better, Best…

Good candidates may make some links to relevant issues. Better candidates will demonstrate good awareness of priorities and make clear links. The best candidates can demonstrate a sound knowledge of current policing context through reflecting a good understanding of the different functions of the role in delivering service.

Good better best

Kind Regards, Steve

Wherever you are on your promotion journey, www.ranksuccess.co.uk can help with guidance and support.