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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Personal Statements for Promotion Part 2: Interviews

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“Think of your personal statement as the ace up your sleeve.” – Steve Cooper

When it comes to police promotion interviews, one of the biggest fears sergeant and Inspector candidates admit to is drawing a blank. Having nothing to say, immersed in an awkward silence.

In Personal Statements For Promotion Part 1, we looked at how forces often require aspiring officers to submit a written application for promotion as part of the selection process. Compiling a 450-word personal statement might work well in writing, but is impractical to introduce to a promotion interview. However, the concept is still sound. Consequently, this blog looks at more condensed personal statements for your interview, to support you in delivering a great performance.

Reassuring the Board

Developing a verbal personal statement is a highly valuable exercise when preparing for your promotion board. The board is responsible for making a risk decision on whether promoting you now is a good risk for the organisation. The board members simply want to know three things:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you do the job?
  3. Do you act and speak like the leader/manager/supervisor they are seeking and which the force needs?

A prepared personal statement enables you to inject your enthusiasm and personality into the process. Police promotion is advertised as an objective process, but remember your board are human, so subjectivity comes into it. A honed, verbal personal statement delivers impact. It offers you an opportunity to reassure, influence and convince board members that promoting you is a good investment.

It is important on a number of levels. For starters, it can assist you in answering the following ‘Why You?’ questions?

  • Why do you want promotion?
  • Why should you be promoted?
  • Why would anyone choose to be led by you?

To the Point…

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass” – Anton Chekhov

Having developed your personal statement, there will be an opportunity to include it in interview (more on that later). Knowing what you are going to say beforehand is a good confidence boost. Being quietly confident in your slick personal statement, ready to deliver, puts you one step ahead of others.

Imagine walking into your promotion interview. The Chair of your interview panel welcomes you, puts you at ease and then drops this bombshell:

“We have decided to hold a very succinct process for promotion candidates this year. Please take a moment or two to gather your thoughts and then tell us in fifty words, why you should be promoted today?”

Condensing the case for promoting you into just 50 words is a great development exercise to include in your board preparation. It focuses the mind and puts you on right on the spot. Coincidentally that’s exactly where you will find yourself in a promotion interview! It’s tried, tested and highly successful and something I encourage all aspiring promotion candidates to consider.

Some Examples to Get You Started

So, which 50 words would you choose? It can be difficult to get started, so here are a couple of 50 word examples I prepared earlier just to get you thinking and to give you an idea:

EXAMPLE 1: “I am motivated and enthusiastic, which infuses others. I’m a good role model for colleagues. I care about developing my staff. I set and agree SMART objectives encouraging ownership at all levels. I treat people as individuals, fostering an open and motivating environment. I recognise and acknowledge good work.”

EXAMPLE 2: “As a leader I recognise I’m in a position of trust and responsibility. I lead by example. As supervisor I set, communicate and reinforce standards, starting with my own punctuality and smart appearance. My personal values fit well with our force including integrity, trust, fairness, respect, and public service.”

Build the case for promoting you and reduce it to 50 words. Then when you are happy with it, rehearse it! Treat it as you would any important speech. Doing this helps fix the content in your mind, aids your confidence and ensures effective delivery. Of course you can use more than 50 words if you wish.

“All the real work is done in rehearsal.” – Donald Pleasance

The principle is that you are equipped with a powerful statement you can introduce as part of your response to questions from panel members. You won’t be that individual who dries up or has nothing to say. On the contrary, you will be waiting for an opportunity to introduce your prepared personal statement.

In short, you are selling yourself and your skills and the board is buying. It is difficult to sell a product you don’t believe in, so practicing your personal statement delivery is time well spent.

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people” – Jim Rohn

“I’d Just Like to Add…”

You will get an opportunity to deliver your personal statement. You may even get more than one opportunity, but don’t worry about repeating yourself; you’ll never say it the same way twice!

So when will you get to deliver your personal statement? Good question! Promotion boards are behavioural interviews, which feature mainly open questions. A benefit of being asked open questions is that you can get across what you want to say. A great opportunity usually arises at the end of your promotion board when the chair of the panel will normally say something similar to this:

“That brings the formal questions to an end. Before you go, is there anything you would like to add?”

Most unprepared candidates will take the opportunity to vamoose, pronto! But not you. You will take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, look the panel members in the eye, thank them for the opportunity, then leave them with a lasting favorable impression by delivering your prepared personal statement.


If you found this blog helpful and you’d like more guidance on promotion, why not download a FREE GUIDE: ‘7 Things Promotion Boards Also Look For’ to help you on your way?

You can also use the code POLICEHOUR20 at checkout, to save 20% on any Rank Success digital promotion guides or bundles.

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Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper writes expert promotion content to support the development of UK police officers.

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