Tips and Traps
PRSB Members have put together some suggestions on how to present well in an appeal including some values and qualities of leadership.
Focus on the specific needs of the position
In presenting your key claims, show that you understand what is needed to do well in the particular position. Show how your capabilities, experience and qualifications will help you succeed in that position.
Listen carefully - answer the question you were asked
The PRSB Member wants to know how well you listen and think on your feet.
You will be assessed on how you answer the question you were asked. People who go off-track, or provide irrelevant answers (no matter how impressive) will not rate well. So listen carefully, don’t read something pre-prepared or repeat your written KSC example which is not relevant.
It’s fine to ask for the question to be repeated. You can write it down, or pause before answering. You may ask for time to gather your thoughts. You may feel nervous. Don’t worry, allowances are made.
Evidence, evidence, evidence!
It is easy to make sweeping claims (I am an excellent mentor; I’m the go-to person in the station; I am a people-focused leader) but without evidence to back it up, broad ‘claims to greatness’ don’t count for much.
The PRSB Member will be looking for you to show real examples of when and how you have demonstrated your capabilities and to point to material in the Selection File which supports your claims (for example, PDA entries and commendations).
Talk through how you think and approach problem-solving
The PRSB Member wants to understand how you think and approach a situation or task and solve problems.
Using a STAR (Situation/Task; Action; Result) method gives you the opportunity to show your thinking (see part 5.2 above). Remember, you need to show the approach expected at the rank of the position, so make sure your example is sufficiently complex. A good approach is to ‘tell the story’:
- Give the context: Explain the situation or problem. Why was it a problem? How big?
- Explain your thinking: What factors did you consider before deciding what to do? How did you come up with the idea or response that you did? Was there more than one option? How and why did you choose the option you did? What were your considerations and concerns?
What action did you take? What was the result (impact)? What changed? Was this what you expected? On reflection, would you do anything differently?
Slow down and focus on the important things
The PRSB Member has read the Selection File so there is no need to repeat your service history and if necessary, you will be asked to clarify.
Speed-reading from a document makes it hard for the PRSB Member to take notes and risks losing the ‘pearls’ in a large volume of information. A good idea is to follow the pace of the Member’s pen: If you can see them racing to try and take notes, you are speaking too quickly.
If you don’t understand the question, ask for it to be repeated and write it down. Think carefully before you answer (it is ok to pause to gather your thoughts).
Don’t exaggerate or minimise your achievements
Don’t be tempted into exaggerating the role you played in an outcome. Never claim credit for something you didn’t do, and don’t provide misleading information. PRSB Members are good at sensing this, and will question you and may seek to verify information you provide, including by asking the LPR.
If you are caught out, it will cause you significant embarrassment and damage to your reputation (this has happened to others). On the other hand, don’t sell yourself short by being too modest about your achievements. Be specific, clear and honest about the role you played, the level of your responsibility and your contribution to the outcome.
Draw your best examples from your whole experience
Use the best example that answers the question. Choose a contemporary example with enough complexity to showcase your higher level skills as expected for the relevant rank.
You may use relevant examples from outside of Victoria Police or volunteer or community work; for example, about leadership, problem-solving or initiative.
Refresh your understanding of leadership
If you have undertaken leadership training within Victoria Police (such as the Sergeant Qualifying Program), re-read relevant materials (such as the Action Learning Booklet) and think about the drivers of an excellent workplace, the values of Victoria Police and the features of effective leadership. People Capability Profiles include leadership qualities and these are reflected in the position documents.
Higher duties and secondment
If you have had periods of higher duties/up-grade/secondment, especially for long periods, show how you used that opportunity to learn and embrace leadership. Did you just ‘keep the seat warm’ or did you actively engaged with the responsibility of the position and rank? How?
Higher duties is a good opportunity to acquire leadership and management skills and experience which can help you achieve promotion. We know there are barriers to accessing these assignments. There are other ways to show your potential. Natural leaders don’t wait for promotion; they show initiative, innovation and problem-solving all the time. Show your leadership qualities in the appeal: how you put your hand up, go above and beyond, continue to learn and model Victoria Police values.
Professional development, training and the organisational expectations
The PRSB Member wants to know about your commitment to your learning and professional development, that you keep up to date with contemporary policing methods and new policies and that you are meeting the expectations of Victoria Police in relation to policies, standards and approaches.
Use your Candidate Profile and PDA to record your learning, including tertiary study, on-line courses or other learning projects. Read about current policing issues and attend conferences. In presenting your key claims, show how your knowledge and thinking is contemporary.
Make sure you engage with and understand important organisational reforms (STAND/VEOHRC and Mental Health). Show that you know about and follow the expectations placed upon you in your role.
Check the file to make sure relevant information about your career and study is included
Many police officers have gained valuable work experience outside Victoria Police, giving them capabilities, which may be highly transferable. You are encouraged to explore such relevant experience in the appeal.
Similarly, many people hold tertiary or other qualifications or are currently undertaking study. Check to make sure that information about your relevant work history, qualifications and current study is included in the Candidate Profile and Selection File, which the PRSB provides to you. In your key claims presentation, explain how you would apply this knowledge and experience.
Practise and seek feedback
Practise answering interview questions with a colleague, friend or family member using the Transfer and Promotion Unit Guide to Behavioural Interviews. Have a mentor or colleague read over your key claims. Ask for feedback. Consider seeking professional help if you have struggled with interviews (the Employee Assistance Program is a good place to start).
Use your PDA
The PRSB Member will understand that scores on your PDA are not the ‘be all and end all’ (managers can score differently). However, your PDA is a valuable source of information. It will help you in selections and appeals if you: use it well; keep it updated; seek relevant and verified contributions; set development and learning goals; and record your progress and achievements.
Make sure your application for the position is in good order
It will help you if your written KSC responses are clear and well-structured. Impressions matter, so check your grammar and spelling and ask someone to proof-read for you.
Make sure your Candidate Profile is up to date, well-formatted, outlines your key responsibilities and achievements in recent positions, indicates significant periods of secondment/upgrading and time-frames, includes your qualifications, current study and all relevant work experience.
Qualities of Leaders
All police officers are required to show leadership every day in many different ways. For positions at sergeant and above, it is likely that your people-management and leadership capabilities and approaches will be the most important factors in deciding the appeal.
The Chief Commissioner has described the preferred leadership style in Victoria Police as inclusive, confident, humble and visible leadership, with everyone who works for Victoria Police having the confidence to take charge and the humility to be approachable and show respect to everyone with whom you work. Recent reviews of police practice and culture have recommended the need to shift from a ‘directive’ to a more ‘people-focused’ leadership style’.
The VEOHRC Review identified that leaders need to have knowledge, understanding and capability to build gender equitable and respectful workplaces and be able to:
- Advocate for change
- Value the contribution of all employees
- Reject and call out unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour
- Respect and value the diversity of the community they serve.
The Mental Health Review identified people-focussed leadership as a key factor in improving the wellbeing of police members. This includes:
- Listening to the team and demonstrating understanding
- Developing shared clarity around objectives and directions
- Having candid conversations about performance issues and challenging behaviours
- Providing support and development oriented feedback
- Engaging employees through encouraging debate and peer feedback
- Responding to and dealing with at-risk individuals
- Personal role-modelling and awareness of impact of own leadership behaviour
- Understanding early indicators of stress and mental health issues.
The Capability Plan outlines how Victoria Police is seeking leaders who:
- are approachable and consistent when dealing with colleagues, partners and the community
- apply fair process
- strongly commit to the values of the organisation
- guide, trust, develop and empower colleagues
- make timely decisions that are guided by both values and evidence
- inspire participation and commitment through a shared vision
Some other values and qualities of leadership which may be relevant in an appeal are set out below.
Dealing with change
Able to embrace, support and (at higher ranks) drive the changes needed to meet the demand for services and organisational challenges.
Supports and drives a strong safety culture, including by supporting mental health, well-being and equality (including gender equality).
Able to drive innovation and continuous improvement, to improve services.
Respect and empathy
Empathetic, respectful and fair to members of the public and employees.
Committed to continuous learning.