What is a Prison Officer Selection Test (POST)?
The Prison Officer Selection Test, often referred to as POST, is a mandatory test for all applicants wishing to work in the prison service. It is designed to determine whether you are right for the role and has recently been developed to assess personality traits as well as skills and behaviours.
Prison officers are required to carry out numerical tasks as part of their role, so numeracy assessments are a key part of the POST.
You will also undertake psychometric tests to show how you respond to workplace situations and behave under pressure. Honesty and integrity is an utmost requirement for work as a prison officer.
You do not need any prior knowledge of the prison service or the specific role of a prison officer to pass the test.
The format of the Prison Officer Selection Test
To express your interest in joining the prison service, you must first submit an online application form. If you meet the minimum requirements and your initial application is successful, you will be invited to sit the POST.
The Prison Officer Selection Test is a remote test that can be taken from anywhere (providing you can access a computer with an internet connection).
You will receive a link to the test via email. The test takes around an hour to complete and you have seven days in which to submit your test.
The test is divided into multiple stages, as outlined below.
Stage one starts with a situational judgement test that assesses your behaviour when confronted with a typical prison workplace situation. This is followed by a numerical test to assess basic numeracy skills and mathematical ability.
If you are successful in stage one, you will be invited to move onto stage two.
Stage two presents a new addition to the Prison Officer Selection Test: a game-based assessment. This innovative format tests your natural behaviours and reactions.
POST situational judgement test
The situational judgement test assesses your natural behaviours in the workplace. You will be presented with a typical work-related scenario along with multiple possible actions that you could take in response to that scenario.
You will be asked to order the actions to show which you think are the most effective to the least effective. You will have an allowance of 20 minutes to answer 16 questions.
POST numerical reasoning test
The second section of stage one is the numerical reasoning test. You do not need a high level of mathematical knowledge to pass this test; just a good understanding of basic mathematical principles like multiplication, division, percentages and currencies.
You must also have a perfect grasp of the 24-hour clock as very accurate timekeeping is a skill needed for work as a prison officer.
The numerical reasoning test has a time allowance of 15 minutes and consists of 20 questions. You will be permitted to take in a pen, paper and a calculator to help you work out answers.
The test is not negatively marked, meaning that you won’t be deducted marks for incorrect answers – so if you are unsure, take an educated guess.
POST games-based assessment
If you successfully complete stage one, you will move onto stage two, which is a new format of testing in the Prison Officer Selection Test.
You will receive unique login details that give you access to a games-based test that you can take on a computer or tablet. The purpose of this stage is to assess your natural responses in ‘real time’ as you are immersed in the game.
You are offered the chance to take as many practice tests as you like before sitting the actual test, so familiarise yourself with the format and process of the game before diving in.
The game has no time limit. Candidates usually take around 30 to 50 minutes to reach the end, passing through nine levels that all present different scenarios.
There are no right or wrong answers, so you don’t pass or fail this stage. Instead, you will receive a feedback report outlining your responses and what this reveals about your personality and behaviours.