5. The recruitment process

Before you apply, you should ensure that you've done everything you can to prepare yourself so that your application has the best chance of success.

The different steps of the recruitment process are detailed below, so you know what to expect at each stage. Although it can differ person to person the recruitment process can take approximately 3 to 6 months.

If you need additional help or support, please contact the HR innovation team or review section 3, Life as a PC to better understand the role of a PC.

Step 1 - your application

Read our top tips before moving onto to completing your online application form (use Internet Explorer 7+, Firefox 3.6+ or Chrome 8+). 

After you've submitted the form we'll post you a candidate registration form.

Fill this in and return by post as soon as possible to make it into our next shortlisting stage.

Step 2 - shortlisting

You need to pass both the 'written communication' and the 'questionnaire' section of your application.

We'll contact you to let you know and provide feedback if you're unsuccessful. If interest is high we may place some candidates on hold until there are more spaces available. 

Step 3 – attend a briefing session

Due to the current COVID-19 situation all briefings will be conducted virtually for the time being. You will be invited to an interview prior to the College of Policing Online Assessment process and required to pass this to enable you to progress further in the recruitment process.

More information

Visit the College of Policing website for more information on stage one.

College of Policing’s (CoP) Online Assessment Process

SEARCH Assessment has now been replaced with the College of Policing online assessment process. To prepare for the College of Policing’s (CoP) Online Assessment Process please take a look at the following:


At this stage you would usually be invited to an interview at the Kent Police College in Maidstone. However due to COVID-19 all interviews have now moved to a virtual platform. You will be contacted with further information via email and sent a link for your scheduled interview directly from the recruitment team. 
Your interview is another opportunity for you to demonstrate why you should join our team.
During your interview you'll be tested on the following competencies;
  • Decision making and professionalism
  • working with others and openness to change
  • serving the public and service delivery.
We'll give you guidance about the format of the interview beforehand so please don't worry.

Fitness test

In usual circumstances the next step is to pass the endurance fitness test. You'll have to run a 15m track in time with bleeps which get increasingly faster (level 5.4 bleep test).
If you fail on your first attempt don't worry. You're allowed 2 more attempts within 12 weeks.
However, again due to COVID-19 all fitness tests are currently being undertaken via self-declaration and physical testing on day one when candidates join us. All candidates affected will receive an email from our Business Services team outlining the new process and any candidate action to be taken.

Step 1 – vetting checks

Due to the nature of the job you'll understand we need to carry out checks on our employees and their families.
This includes you, your spouse/partner (and their children if over 10 years old), family members (including step relations) and any other adults who live at your address.
Financial checks will also be carried out to make sure you don't have an outstanding CCJ, IVA or are registered bankrupt.
If you've discharged your bankruptcy debts you'll need verification from the Court that 3 years has passed since the date of discharge.
If you fail vetting, you have a right to appeal. You can appeal a vetting decision by email or in writing within 14 days. You must detail why you want to appeal the decision and anything else you want taken into consideration.
If you're unsure why you failed we can talk that through with you before deciding whether to make an appeal.

Step 2 – Medical screening

You'll be asked to complete a medical questionnaire which must be signed by your GP and returned directly (confidentially) to our health team.
All being well, you'll be examined by one of our appointed medical practitioners who will check your:
  • lung capacity
  • eyesight and colour vision
  • hearing
  • mobility
  • existing conditions
  • urine
  • height/weight/BMI check (note: Body Mass Index should be within 18-30)
  • eyesight test requirements

Medical standards

Please read the HM Government medical standards information which provides full details on which illnesses, injuries and disorders will affect your ability to perform the role of a police officer.

Step 3 - home visit

We carry out a home visit as part of the security checks.
An Inspector (or above) or police staff senior manager will complete a questionnaire during the visit to:
  • verify identity
  • seek clarification on known associates or others residing at the address
  • ensure you have a realistic understanding of the role and requirements.


Step 4 – Fingerprints and DNA

Samples of your fingerprints and DNA will be taken to carry out some final vetting checks against various national databases. You'll be required to consent in writing to this process.

Step 5 – References

We'll ask for references from each of your previous employers and/or educational establishments for the last 3 years. Any gaps in employment will need to be explained and verified.
If you haven't been in employment for 3 years, we'll ask for a character or educational reference.

This is the stage where you will begin your training which will consist of a number of elements including scenarios, classroom inputs, drill practice, fitness sessions and exams.

It is hands on, challenging and intense but there is plenty of support in place to help you throughout the course.

For the first 5 months (approximately) you will be based at our Kent Police College in Maidstone where you'll work towards your Diploma in Policing.

The diploma is a nationally recognised qualification so expect some study in your own time. We will give you some pre-read material to help you before you start.

After this you will be posted out on division and tutored by experienced officers in both operational and investigative roles.
This is where you'll be able to put all your learning into practice. We'll carry out assessments during this time to make sure you're still on track.
Where you're posted in the county depends on policing requirements at the time but we do take your preferred options into consideration.


Moving forwards

Where will I be based?

During your training, you are able to specify 3 posting preferences. Your preferences are not guaranteed but you will be matched with your choices as closely as possible. Postings are based on organisational/operational need.

What are the shifts?

You will work a mix of early, late and night shifts - this will include working weekends.

2020- tablet-classroom
Classroom at the Kent Police College