Police Dispatcher Candidate Selection Guide

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The Panel Interview contains questions that largely focus on gathering examples of how you have performed in different situations. The questions are general in nature, therefore applicants from a variety of backgrounds are able to relate to, and describe, a pertinent situation. In your answer, you are encouraged to refer to experiences from a variety of contexts (school, work, volunteering, sports, etc.).

Here is an example of a question:
Please tell us about a time when you had to persevere to overcome obstacles in your personal or professional life.

*This is only an example, not necessarily an interview question on the 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher Panel Interview.

A few questions in the interview focus on gathering information about how you would act in certain situations that are similar in context to those you would likely experience as an 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher. For these questions, you will be presented with a hypothetical situation and then asked to describe in detail what you would do in this circumstance. You will also be asked to explain the reasoning behind your intended behaviour(s), including the factors you took into consideration when deciding what actions you would (or would not) take.

Situational questions are included in the interview to allow applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds the opportunity to demonstrate how they would perform in a situation.

Here is an example of a situational question:
You are a member of a soccer team. During an important game, the referee makes a bad call against your team, which leads to the other team scoring a game-winning goal. After the goal is scored, four of your teammates and your coach begin to argue with the referee and players of the other team. The argument is becoming very heated, but you believe that what your coach and teammates are saying is correct and that the referee's call was very unfair. What would you do in this situation and why?

What does the Panel Interview measure?

The interview assesses eight competencies (qualities) considered essential to perform successfully as a 9-1-1 Police Dispatcher. The goal of the interview is to determine to what extent you possess these competencies. Each competency is defined below:

1. Developing Self:
Recognizes personal strengths and learning needs and engages in self-development opportunities to achieve full potential in current and future roles.

2. Flexibility:
Considers, adopts and changes behaviours in light of new ideas or work methods, and works effectively within a variety of situations and with various individuals or groups of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Demonstrates a positive attitude and open-mindedness when faced with change.

3. Conscientiousness and Reliability:
Fulfills commitments in a professional, thorough and consistent manner through self-discipline and a sense of duty. Shows strong attention to detail and a focus on quality.

4. Meeting Client Needs:
Shows strong client-service orientation. Balances the needs and expectations of clients with a view to meeting or exceeding them where possible.

5. Communication:
Effectively receives and conveys ideas and information in all its forms (verbal, written and non-verbal) in a way that increases the understanding of the target audience.

6. Teamwork:
Achieves common goals by working cooperatively with others and developing a positive work climate.

7. Self-Control and Composure:
Keeps emotions under control and restrains negative actions when provoked, when faced with opposition or hostility from others, or when working under conditions of increasing levels of stress. Maintains stamina and concentration under continuing stress.

8. Problem Solving:
Systematically analyses and breaks down problems, risks, opportunities and issues into component parts, identifies appropriate solutions and takes timely actions and decisions.

How do I prepare?

The Panel Interview will focus on your own capabilities and how you have demonstrated them in the past, rather than how much you know about legal or policing issues, or the RCMP itself. Therefore, there is no essential material to learn before the interview. Still, there are several steps you are encouraged to take ahead of time to prepare yourself for a successful interview.

Preparing for the behavioural questions

  1. Review the definitions of the eight competencies and make sure that you understand them.
  2. Break up each competency definition into its different components and ask yourself, "When did I have to demonstrate this part of the definition?" For example: "When did I have to work as part of a team?"
  3. Review your own experiences and clearly identify incidents or situations that relate to these competencies.
  4. Try to use challenging and recent situations as examples. If your best example for a question happened five years ago, use it, but keep in mind that the more recent the example, the better. The interviewer wants to know if you are using your skills and abilities now.
  5. You do not have to use work examples, particularly if the best example you can think of for a question did not take place at work. You can also use the same example to answer more than one question if different aspects of that example can be used to answer different questions.

To make a fair assessment of your actions in the examples you describe, the Interview Panel needs to get a complete description of the situation, the actions you took, and the result of these actions. We call this structure the STAR principle. If you practice describing your past experiences according to this structure, your answers will flow more easily and you will be less likely to leave out important information.

For behavioural questions, set out your answers using the STAR Principle:

S: Describe the situation surrounding your example clearly and concisely. Who was involved? What are the relevant details that impacted your actions?
T: What was the task you were called upon to do? What was your specific challenge?
A: What action(s) did you take? Talk about your contributions and what you actually did.
R: What was the result? What did you accomplish?

Preparing for the situational questions

Situational questions are based on the same competencies as the behavioural questions. The Interview Panel needs to get a complete description of the actions that you would take (or not take), and the reasoning process that you used to make your decisions, including the factors you took into consideration. This is reflected in the ARC principle. If you approach situational questions with this structure in mind, you will be less likely to leave out important information that the interviewer needs to know.

For situational questions, use the ARC Principle:

A: What actions would you take?
R: What is the reasoning behind your actions? How did you arrive at this decision?
C: When determining what your actions would be, what factors did you take into consideration?

8 Tips for a successful interview

  1. It is a good idea to write down a summary of examples that highlight your skills, abilities and experiences and review them periodically to refresh your memory. When you write out your examples, try to structure them according to the STAR and ARC principles, and think about how they could apply to other situations. Please note that candidates are NOT allowed to consult their preparatory materials during the course of the interview.
  2. Conduct a practice interview with a friend. You can prepare interview questions using the competency definitions (e.g., "Tell me about a time when you had to ... "). This will give you the opportunity to get some feedback on your answers regarding clarity and level of detail (i.e., too much, not enough).
  3. Answer the questions directly. There is a fine line between appropriate detail and long-winded responses. Formulating your answers according to the STAR and ARC principles will help you with this.
  4. The interview is not a race. Take your time to collect yourself, think, formulate your answer, then talk. You can use note paper to quickly jot down what you want to say or important parts of the question.
  5. Be a good listener. Do not hesitate to occasionally ask questions if you do not understand what the interviewer is asking you. However, try to avoid having every question repeated to you. Listening is an important part of oral communication, which is assessed during the interview.
  6. Do not panic if you cannot answer a question. You can "pass" on a question and come back to it later, and you will not be penalized for doing so. If you draw a blank, just say: "I can't think of anything right now, can we come back to that question later?"
  7. Occasionally, the interviewer might ask you for another example, even after you have fully answered a question. This does not necessarily mean that your previous answer was unsatisfactory. The interviewer may simply want more (or more recent) information about that particular competency.
  8. Do not make up answers! Interviewers have been trained to probe for additional detail and any misinformation is likely to be detected. The interviewer may ask you to provide the names and contact information of people who can verify the situations you describe. Any attempt to be dishonest or deliberately omit relevant information will result in your removal from further consideration for employment within the RCMP.

What if I don't have any experience?

Many people make the mistake of neglecting very relevant life experiences just because they did not take place in a full-time job setting. However, you may have acquired and demonstrated the required competencies through a wide variety of activities.

So when preparing for the interview, take time to reflect on your past and select behavioural examples that most closely relate to each of the competencies. The following list provides some examples of activities you may have participated in that could provide some excellent answers to the interview questions:

  • Competitive sports
  • Volunteer work
  • Hobbies
  • Family life challenges and events
  • Past jobs including full-time, part-time, summer term, internships and cooperative education placements
  • Projects undertaken in school (term projects, extracurricular activities such as the student newspaper, student clubs, associations, organization of events, etc.)

What to expect

At the beginning of the Panel Interview, you will be provided a thirty-minute preparation period to review the questions and make notes. You will have the opportunity to refer to your notes during the interview. At the end of the interview the interviewer will collect all of the notes that you have made in order to preserve the confidentiality of the interview questions.

During the Panel Interview, interviewers will be taking a lot of notes and you will not get as much eye contact as you would in a normal conversation. This extensive note-taking is for your benefit and the interviewer's benefit: the interviewer needs to capture your answers in as much detail as possible in order to give you a fair rating. The interviewer often may continue writing after you have finished speaking. You can use this time to rest and organize your thoughts.

Once the interview is over, the Interview Panel will rate your answers against a structured scoring guide. This ensures that everyone is evaluated the same way and against the same standards. You will be notified of your results within 4 weeks of your interview.

If English is not your first language, you may also be required to write a language test. Contact your 9-1-1 Police Dispatch Recruitment Team for more details.

If you fail the interview, you will have to wait one year before you can re-apply.

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