In episode 49 of the Graduate Job Podcast, I am joined by Dave Spencer, C.E.O. and co-founder of Police Now, the innovative new graduate scheme aimed at attracting top graduate talent into the police force. In this half hour we explore their new graduate leadership development programme discussing what exactly the scheme entails, its intensive training, and what you will be doing over your initial 2 years. We delve into the application process in detail, from the initial online application through to Skype interview, role plays and assessment centre, looking at how you apply, and more importantly how to make sure that your application stands head and shoulders above everybody else. If you’ve ever thought about a career in the police, then this is the episode for you, and even if joining the police has never crossed your mind, you need to keep listening to understand why over the half the people who joined them last year originally said that they wouldn’t have thought about joining the police but for Police Now. As always, all links to everything we discuss and a full transcript are available in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/policenow . Before we start a quick request from me, your feedback helps me to create the episodes you want to hear, so I’ve set up a super simple and very quick survey, as I want the show to best serve your needs. It’s got 5 questions and will take you a minute, so please check it out at http://www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. But in the meantime, let’s crack on with the show.
MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Police Now and their graduate leadership development programme
- How you will be changing lives in challenged areas of the UK
- What to expect from their intensive training programme
- The secrets to impressing throughout the application process
- What to expect from the role plays at the assessment centre
- The importance of being yourself and not trying to ‘fake it till you make it’
- Why Police Now could be the perfect place to start your career
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE:
- The Police Now Website – www.policenow.org.uk
- Police Now on Twitter – https://twitter.com/Police_Now
- Police Now on Facebook – www.facebook.com/PoliceNow/
- Dave’s 1st top book recommendation – The Chimp Paradox Click on the link below to buy NOW from Amazon!
- Dave’s 2nd book recommendation – Love’s Executioner Click on the link below to buy NOW from Amazon!
- Dave’s website link – FiveThirtyEight.com
IF YOU FOUND THIS USEFUL, CHECK OUT THESE EPISODES:
- My interview with EY
- My interview with Teach First
- My interview with Think Ahead
- My interview with Frontline
- My interview with Enterprise Rent –A-Car
- My interview on how to pass aptitude tests (verbal, numeric, situational judgement etc.) which you will face when you apply to Police Now
- My episodes on how to impress at assessment centres
- My episodes on impressing at job interviews
Transcript – Episode 49 – How to get a graduate job with Police Now
James: Welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast, with your host James Curran. The Graduate Job Podcast is your weekly home for all things related to helping you on your journey to finding that amazing job. Each week I bring together the best minds in the industry, speaking to leading authors, entrepreneurs, coaches and bloggers who bring decades of experience into a byte size weekly 30 minute show. Put simply, this is the show I wish I had a decade ago when I graduated.
So for episode 49 of the Graduate Job Podcast, I am joined by Dave Spencer, C.E.O. and co-founder of Police Now, the innovative new graduate scheme aimed at attracting top graduate talent into the police force. In this half hour we explore their new graduate leadership development programme discussing what exactly the scheme entails, its intensive training, and what you will be doing over your initial 2 years. We delve into the application process in detail, from the initial online application through to Skype interview, role plays and assessment centre, looking at how you apply, and more importantly how to make sure that your application stands head and shoulders above everybody else. If you’ve ever thought about a career in the police, then this is the episode for you, and even if joining the police has never crossed your mind, you need to keep listening to understand why over the half the people who joined them last year originally said that they wouldn’t have thought about joining the police but for Police Now. As always, all links to everything we discuss and a full transcript are available in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/policenow . Before we start a quick request from me, your feedback helps me to create the episodes you want to hear, so I’ve set up a super simple and very quick survey, as I want the show to best serve your needs. It’s got 5 questions and will take you a minute, so please check it out at http://www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey/ . I look forward to hearing your thoughts. But in the meantime, let’s crack on with the show.
James: I’m really pleased today to be speaking to Dave Spencer, C.E.O. and co-founder of Police Now, the innovative new graduate scheme aimed at attracting top graduate talent into the police force. Dave, welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast.
Dave: Thanks James, thanks very much for the invitation. It’s great to be here.
James: So, before we delve into Police Now, Dave, would you like to first give us a taster of your background and how you came to co-found Police Now?
Dave: Sure, well I’ve been a police officer now for about 12 years, and I’ve always worked in London and I’ve worked in some pretty tough and some challenging places in London. And, myself and a colleague decided a couple of years ago that we wanted to do something different about how we brought people into policing and what we did with them when they were here. And our aim, above and beyond everything else, is to transform the most challenged and deprived communities that we work in, and to do that by reducing crime and increasing the public’s confidence in policing. And the background to is that, actually there’s some real issues in some of our most challenged communities. So, if you’re a child growing up in social housing, you’re 37% more likely than other children to be a victim of crime. If your dad has a criminal conviction and you’re a boy, then there’s a 70% chance that you’ll end up with a criminal conviction as well. And if you’re an older person living in one of these most deprived and challenged communities, there’s a 93% chance that you’re going to be scared to go out after dark. 93% of older people in those communities are scared to go out after dark, and we really think that there’s something that we can do about that. Police officers are on the front line, and by finding really brilliant people to come into policing, this is how we can make a change for those people.
James: Wow, some of those stats are scary. I didn’t realize 70% of kids whose fathers have a criminal conviction, if you’re a boy, then become a, are likely to have a criminal conviction themselves. That’s scary.
Dave: It’s really frightening, isn’t it? And there is something that we can do about it. And our ethos, our concept here at Police Now is that what we need is bright, enthusiastic people who really want to problem solve and make a real difference in those communities can come in and make that difference for those young people and the older people living in those communities.
James: Excellent, so jumping straight in then into Police Now, how does, how does this scheme work and what does it look like?
Dave: Sure, well it’s a two-year program and essentially you join us in the July, in the summer, of the year of the two years that you’re going to spend with us, and you are a front line police officer. So, this isn’t a desk job, this isn’t spreadsheets and photocopying. This is two years on the frontline of policing in one of those communities. So, you spend your two years getting to know a single community and working on their behalf to try and transform the world around them. So, you are the frontline crime fighter, the problem solver, the face of the police in that community. And the way the program itself works is that you start with us on our summer academy, and you spend six weeks in a really intensive training course where we give you all of the tools that you need to get started as a police officer. And that’s everything from personal protection, how to interview people, how to execute search warrants, you know, all of that sort of stuff. So, everything that you might have seen on the TV or on film, we teach you how to do that sort of stuff for real. You spend six weeks doing that and then you go out into your local posting, where you’ll be looked after by your line manager and your mentor, and you spend the first four weeks there, just getting to know things, and know the people around you. And then over the rest of the two years, then we are developing you, working with you, with your leadership development officer, your line manager, so you can really develop your skills and deliver something really tangible in those places that you’re working. And we’ve got officers in our first cohort this year who have been executing search warrants. We had one who, one of our participants is a police constable up in northwest London, who pretty much managed to crack one of North London’s biggest drug criminal gangs in her first year as a police officer. And if you can imagine the difference that that has made for the local people in that community, it’s just massive. And you know those stories, there’s so many of them from our first cohort this year. So, you spend two years on the ground doing that, and we work with you to develop your skills and then at the end of the two years you can make a decision about what you want to do with yourself. You can either stay in policing in a frontline role, you can stay in policing as option two and go for fast-track promotion if you want to do that, or you can say, “Actually, I’ve done my two years, I’ve made a difference. Now, I’m going to go and do something else.” And we’re working with a number of corporate partners, so we could work with you to enable you to get a root into one of their graduate programs potentially as well. And that’s the two years on the program. And we’ve got people who are just coming into their second year now and they’re already thinking about what they want to do at the end of the program, and some of them are going to be detectives, some of them are going to go and go for promotions, perhaps sergeants or inspectors, and some of them are going to work for management consultants or a marketing agency. So, there’s a whole range of options at the end of the two years, and that’s the great thing about the program, that your options are really open after two years.
James: Brilliant. So, for all intents and purposes, you’re the full on police officer, you’re not a community support officer or something like that, you’re doing the real deal?
Dave: No, it’s absolutely the real deal. On day one of the summer academy you are tested and you take your oaths as a police constable. So, you are a full police officer from day one, and there’s all of the powers and all of the responsibilities that go with that. So, right from day one you are able to arrest people and you are able to execute search warrants, obviously we wouldn’t advise that you go off and do that straight away on day one, but you are in that, with those powers that exist for all police officers. But they come with really great responsibilities as well, so, you know police officers are responsible for upholding the law and keeping people safe, particularly keeping vulnerable people safe. So, right from day one, that’s your responsibility.
James: So, for people who are thinking, or have been thinking about police as a profession, what are the advantages of joining Police Now as opposed to going down the normal application route?
Dave: Sure, well, Police Now is unique in policing in that our training is incredibly intense, but it is delivered by expert frontline individuals who are, they’re just real experts in their craft. So, our training, we get outside speakers in who are visiting fellows to our summer academy. So, if we’re going to teach you about, for example, how to deal with someone who might have mental health problems, then actually we’d find the best people in the country around that, so, police officers who are experts in dealing with people mental health problems and members of the local community mental health trust who come in and lecture and teach you about that. If we’re teaching you about how to execute search warrants and develop intelligence and that sort of stuff, which officers will be doing in their first two years, we get the experts from outside to do it, and it’s really intense. So, you know, it’s no sitting back and relaxing during that summer academy. So, that’s the first difference. The second difference is that you spend two years in a single community making a real difference to those people’s lives. So, rather than lots of moving around, and you might feel after a little while that you don’t necessarily, you’re not necessary able to demonstrate your impact, in our program you spend two years in one place and we ask you every 100 days, “How are you having an impact on your community?” So, at the end of twos years you know the difference that you’ve made, and that’s a real difference as well. And then the final difference is probably that you are part of a cohort of really brilliant people who are all working together to make a real difference. And it’s just fantastic when we get our cohorts together, and it’s just a real feeling of family, and they’re sparking off each other, great conversations, and solving problems together. And that’s just wonderful to see, and you’ll be part of that Police Now family.
James: And location wise, where abouts in the country, in the U.K., are you based in?
Dave: So, our first cohorts, so 2015 cohorts, started and they were all based in London. For our second cohort, that just started with us, the 2016 intake, they are going to seven parts of the country. So that’s London, Lancashire, West Midlands, Surrey, Thames Valley, Northamptonshire. And so they’re going to seven parts of the country and then cohort for next year, so the people will be applying to the program this autumn, it’ll be, I think there’s about 18 to 20 parts of the country that you can go to, 18 to 20 different forces. And that’s everywhere, it’s west, you’re talking about Avon and Somerset you’re talking about Bristol, you’re talking about London, you’re talking about the southeast, down to Brighton, right up then to the north, so Lancashire, parts of Yorkshire, the West Midlands the northwest. So, all over the country we’ve got coverage now for next year.
James: Excellent, and will people have a choice of where they can, where they can, work?
Dave: Yeah, so you can either choose up to three force areas, so you can say, “I might want to work in one of these three areas,” or if you’re totally flexible then you can say, “I’ll go anywhere.”
James: Super, and how many people are you looking to recruit in the next intake?
Dave: So, our next intake for next July we’re about 230 coming into the program then, so you’ll be one of a cohort 230 if you join us next year.
James: Wow, that’s a big intake.
Dave: Yeah and we’ve grown so much, and I think that just by virtue of the how good the people are that have joined our program and how, how good people think the program is,because our first year we were 67, second cohort that have just landed this year 112, and, you know, next year looking at doubling that number. It’s just by virtue of how good the people are that get onto this program and then how good the program is and what we’re able to deliver for them.
James: Excellent, so moving on then to the applicants. What sort of people are you looking for?
Dave: Sure, I think, for me, the most important thing is that people have a real passion to make a difference for people and they are driven by a mission to see a difference in society.So, when I talked in the beginning about us really wanting to transform those communities reduce crime and increase the public’s confidence in policing that’s about making people’s lives better and I think that’s really important for anyone. I think, on top of that, you need to be resilient, you need to have real problem solving skills, because you’re going to be dealing with problems that have been there day-in day-out for many years, and you’re there to help solve them with your team.And then I think it’s really important that you’ve got great communication skills, because ultimately policing is all about people, you’re spending every day with people. It’s not spreadsheets and photocopying, you’re not stuck in the office all day. You’re going to be spending time with, with the public and with your colleagues so you’ve got to be able to communicate.
James: Do people need any previous experience of policing, whether as a community support officer or something like that?
Dave: No, not at all, definitely not. So our first cohort, actually well over half of them, said they wouldn’t have thought about joining the police but for Police Now. And the vast majority of our cohorts don’t have any policing experience at all.So, you can have any degree background and we’ve had people that have been architects, and classic language scholars, and computer scientists, and engineers,as well as lawyers, criminology people as well, but you can have any, I think we’ve got someone with a Ph D. in English, Victorian English literature this year, you know, you can have any kind of academic background and you don’t need to have been a police officer before, or special constable or anything like that, the vast majority of our participants haven’t had any of that sort of experience.
James: Are there any restrictions on degree requirements in terms of a 2:1 or…?
Dave: So, you’ve got to have or be expecting at least a 2:1 in your undergraduate degree. You also got to have a grade C in English, GCSE and they’re the two academic requirements we’ve got. So, if you’re on track for a 2:1 or you’ve already got a 2:1 or above, then you’re someone that we’d want to speak to.
James: And we have lots of listeners in the E.U., are you open to people who are able to work in the U.K.?
Dave: So, what you need to do to join the police service, you need to have the right to work in the U.K. without needing to be sponsored or any of those sorts of factors. So, so long as you have a full right to work in the U.K., then you can join the police service. One thing that we do get asked is, obviously you have to go through a vetting process. So, policing, you obviously get access to people and places that most people don’t and it’s a very trustworthy profession. You need to be someone who can really be trusted. So, you do go through a national security vetting process, and to be able to do that you need to have been resident in the U.K. for the previous three years.
James: Excellent, so moving on then to the application process itself. What does your application process look like?
Dave: Sure, well, it’s not easy is the first thing to say. So, it is a pretty tough process because the program and the job is tough itself, so, but nonetheless you’ve got to do, so initially an online application where we ask a bit about yourself and your background. And then you move on to doing a situational judgement test, and verbal and numerical online tests, and they’re the sort of things you expect from any graduate employer. Then you move on to doing a video interview. So, some of our team would interview you on a Skype interview to ask you some questions. And then if you get through there then you move onto our assessment centre, which is a daylong assessment centre, where we put you through your paces, give you various problems to solve, an interview, and various other scenarios that we put you through.
James: Excellent, and what is it you’re looking for at each of those stages? And so, with the online application, how do people, how can you stand out when you submit your online application?
Dave: So, I think the best way to stand out with any of the assessments, any part of the assessment is, first of all, to demonstrate your commitment to making a difference in those communities that need us most. I think as well, anything that you can demonstrate to show a commitment to public service, so if you’ve volunteered somewhere, if you’ve been involved in any sort of community outreach work that’s all really fantastic. So, that’s the first thing, a real commitment to public service. I think the second thing is that when you’re thinking about any of the scenarios that you’re set, is to think about how you would solve the problems, because that’s the really critical bit we’re looking for and also how you would communicate them. So, these are all just real leadership skills that we’re looking for.
James: And the video interview sounded interesting, I guess some people might find that a bit daunting. What is it you’re looking for there? What mistakes might people make during the video interview?
Dave: Well, the team, I can understand why people would think it was daunting, the team made me do a practice one myself the other day, and if I’m honest I felt a little bit odd, but once you get into the swing of it, it’s actually really easy. You just pretend that you’re talking to someone that you respect and that you want to get across your passion to about what, what you want to do with yourself. And just give some thought before you start it, to the sort of things that we’re looking for. So, how do you demonstrate your commitment to public service? How do you demonstrate the ability to problem solve? How do you just demonstrate the ability communicate? And if you give some thought to those things beforehand, then you’ll be absolutely fine. And it does feel a little bit weird doing it, but once you get into it you’ll be absolute fine.
James: Super and moving onto the assessment centre then. How does the assessment centre make up over the course of the day? What are the different aspects of it?
Dave: Sure. So, you’ll be expected to do a couple of role plays. So, we put you into a realistic situation that you might come across as a police officer in a neighbourhood team, and so you get a couple of role plays when we do that. And we also have a couple of other scenarios as well, so presentation skills might come into it, as well as some of the sort of testing that you’d expect to see. Also you would be expected to do an in-tray exercise. So, what that means is you get a whole load of material to read through and consider and analyse, and then we ask you what decisions you would make at the end of it. So, it’s probably a good idea to get practice at reading material, lots of it, making decisions from it and extracting information from pieces of paper, documents, that sort of stuff. And then the last thing is an interview and, again, the sort of the things that we’ll be asking you is, how do you demonstrate your passion for what we’re talking about here? So, about transforming challenged communities and making a difference. “How have you given an examples in the past of solving problems? How can you, can you give us an example of where you’ve shown real leadership?” So, if you start to think through, and on our website you’ll find our competencies, and if you start to think through the kind of things that we’re looking for through those competencies, I think, then have a good practice at that, you’ll be in really good shape for it.
James: Now that is great advice there. And the roleplay sounded particularly interesting. Is there any way you’d recommend people can practice those? Or just make sure that they’re going to be fully skilled when they when they go in to do one?
Dave: Yeah, the roleplays are fantastic actually. They are realistic about the sort of stuff that you’ll be dealing with so they’re a great test of how suitable you are for the role, but they’re also quite fun as well. And what I would suggest is to go in them with a really open mind and remember that the person across from you, it could be it could be a member of the public, it could be a colleague, it could be someone from the local partner agency, it could even be a victim of crime, and just being prepared to face anyone across the desk and keep a really open mind. And just think about, one of the things I always say is, “That if you were a police officer and you’re thinking about the people that you’re dealing with, if you treat every victim like it was your mother and every suspect like it was your brother, then you can’t go far wrong.,” and that level of empathy is what we’re looking for.
James: Excellent, that sounds, again that’s really good advice. And with the assessment centre is it, there’s one in London that people will be coming down for for the day?
Dave: That’s right, this year everything is in London. So, you’ll be coming down for the full day and we put you through your paces in one day.
James: Very good, so some great advice there listeners for how to perform at your best. And if you were to give, you know, one piece of advice for people to, who are going to be applying, Dave, what would it be?
Dave: I think the tops tips would be to, first of all, is to be yourself. What we find is that people who come in with lots of, trying to sort of, ‘fake it till they make it,’ or trying to appear to be someone different, we usually get under thatand actually the peoplewho’ve just come across as genuine and authenticdo really really well.And the second thing is just to prepare and have a think about those competencies before you arrive with us on the day and to start to think about the things you’ve done in the past that can really show off how brilliant you are.
James: Great advice there, and listeners, it’s always, you need to make sure you know what the competencies are for each company you apply for and make sure that you’ve got at least a couple of questions for when you get asked them, because you will definitely get asked. So, Dave, unfortunately time is running away with us. Before we finish though, let’s move on to the weekly staple questions. So putting you on the spot now, what’s one book would you recommend listeners should read?
Dave: Well, I’m going to be really bad and choose two if I can. So my two books would be ‘Love’s Executioner, and other tales of psychotherapy’ by a guy called Irvin Yalom. And it’s a really beautifully written book with some beautiful stories in it.And the second one is ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by a guy called Steve Peters, which just really helped me get my mind straight for all the sorts thing that I want to do in my life.
James: Brilliant, yes he was working with the England football team, I think unsuccessfully given their performance recently at the Euros.
Dave: That’s true, but he’s done lots of successful things as well.
James: We’ll move on there, and what website, Dave, would you recommend that listeners should visit?
Dave: So, as it’s a US presidential election year, my website will be fivethirtyeight.com, which is Nate Silver’s and they do some brilliant statistical analysis, and crunching numbers about all sorts of things, but particularly this year the U.S. election.
James: Well, that’s a new one for me so I will definitely check that out and listeners everything we’ve discussed today and a full transcript and all links to everything, will be in the show notes at graduatejobpodcast.com/PoliceNow. And final question, Dave. What one tip would you give listeners that they can implement today to help on the job search?
Dave: So, really think about and decide how you want change even your small bit of the world around you, and once you’ve got that straight then the answers to everything else will become clear. I don’t think you’re going to change the world through spreadsheets and photocopiers. Work out how you want change your bit of the world and then go out and do it.
James: I love it. That’s a lovely lovely piece of advice. And having done, having joined a graduate scheme with lots of spreadsheets and photocopying, I definitely agree with that one. So Dave, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Before we finish, what is the best way for people to get in touch in you and also to find out more about Police Now?
Dave: So, the best way to find out is www.policenow.org.uk on our website or you can look for us on Facebook or Twitter by searching, ‘Police Now.’ And at the moment we’ve got loads of stuff up there about our summer academy, so you can see the kind of things we’re doing. And if you want to talk to me directly then LinkedIn is probably the way to go.
James: Dave, thank you so much for appearing on the Graduate Job Podcast.
Dave: Thanks James.
James: Many thanks to Dave Spencer. I love doing interviews with graduate schemes where I might be introducing you to companies that you might not necessarily have thought of applying to. Especially with schemes like Police Now, but also Frontline, Think Ahead and Teach First, where the work you will be doing is going to be changing peoples lives. If you’ve not listened to my interviews on schemes, check out the shownotes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/policenow, where I have linked them all up.
In terms of a key point to leave you with, for me joining the graduate scheme at Police Now is situation where you can’t lose. Thinking personally, you do 2 years where you will receive amazing training and also experiences that you just won’t or can’t get anywhere else. Imagine how confident you will be and how you will carry yourself 2 years down the line having dealt with everything that a front line police officers faces. Imagine how good your communication skills, negotiating skills, leadership skills you name it….imagine what they will be like after your first 2 years? Also think about the lives you will touch over that period? If you love it and it’s for you, then you have a job for life, and there is nothing stopping you from making it to commissioner or chief superintendent level. Alternatively, after 2 years if it’s not for you, you can move on with their blessing, taking all those amazing skills with you as they actively help to place you with one of their corporate partners who will be fighting over each other to get you to join. You can’t say fairer than that. Have a think, hopefully this time next year you will be one of the successful candidates saying, I would never have joined if I hadn’t heard Dave Spencer on the Graduate Job Podcast. On that nice warm glow I’ll leave you with 2 final requests from me, if this episode or any of the other 48 have been useful to you, you can thank me in 2 ways, one is to do the survey at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/survey, and the other is to leave me a review on itunes. Apple put lots of weight to itunes reviews and it keeps me high in the charts, so please fire up itunes and leave me a review I will love you forever. One review to leave you with over on Stitcher Radio, If you listen via there please leave a review as well, is from Hartigan28, ‘Brilliant show – Very informative, really helped me with my applications and the episodes on the issues surrounding applications such as time wasting/fear etc. were very helpful. Almost feels like cheating’. Cheers Hartigan, really appreciate it. Links for how to leave reviews are in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/policenow
All that’s left to say is do join me next week when we reach the 50 episode threshold, it’s a special one so I’ll keep it under wraps. I hope you enjoyed today, but more importantly, I hope you use it, and apply it. See you next week.