5 new assessment ideas you will need a head-start on

Keeping up-to-date with the latest development in the FRS can be a challenge, and when it comes to changes to recruitment and promotion processes you definitely need to make sure you are ahead of the game. Here we cover some ‘must-know’ new information to keep you one step ahead!

1. Leadership qualities

If you’ve done your homework into becoming a firefighter you’ll have heard about the PQAs – the Personal Qualities & Attributes of a successful firefighter.

What you are less likely to know is that, after nearly 20 years, the FRS is growing increasingly disillusioned with this framework. Some FRS have taken to developing their own criteria to measure applicants against, whether for entry level firefighter roles or promotion. Whilst these tend to be based on a mixture of competencies and values, another approach has been developed by a National working group, and this new guidance refers to Leadership Qualities (LQ). Why does this matter? Well, mainly because you can’t assume that what you will be measured against in recruitment and promotions activity is still the PQAs. This new framework was only officially launched early in 2019 so may not make a full appearance in your assessments just yet. But it’s worth being aware of just the same. You can check out the Leadership framework document here.


2. Strengths-based assessment

The strength-based approach has its roots in the ‘Positive Psychology’ movement.

Essentially, positive psychology seeks to flip on its head the more traditional focus of the discipline of what’s not working, and focus instead on what you enjoy, do well and feel energised by. In terms of how a strengths- based interview will look, you’re likely to have more questions and a quicker pace, and less reliance on you describing examples from your past. The benefit of this approach is that you get to talk about how you feel when you do different activities, and describe situations where you most find yourself ‘in flow’ (i.e. loving what you’re doing and doing it well!) The downside is that if you aren’t particularly self- reflective, it could be more of a challenge. Not sure what your strengths are? Take this free survey to find out!


3. Not using ADCs for promotion

Another change which has been gradually evolving over the last few years is that FRS don’t like using assessment centres anymore.

Well known for being expensive, time-consuming, resource-heavy and cumbersome to administer, some FRS are now clearly saying ‘we don’t use ADCs anymore’. But given that they still need to assess individuals’ capabilities and potential for the next role, what have they replaced them with? There’s no one answer. It can range from psychometric (ability) testing, role-plays, written exercises, group discussions, operational or fire-ground simulation exercises, interviews… there are a whole range of activities up for grabs. Interestingly, most FRS will use a combination of stages/tests. A lot like an ADC then…


4. Role-plays for Firefighter Recruitment

While some FRS are busy denying ADCs, firefighter recruitment processes are getting more complicated and multi-stage.

Of course early-stage on-line testing has been steadily increasing and is now used in about 50% of UK FRS. But some FRS are adding new recruitment stages to manage high volumes of applicants. A recent example is where applicants successful at on-line testing were invited to attend a ‘presentation roleplay’. Candidates were given 20 minutes to prepare a brief talk to a ‘supervisor’ based on information provided. The supervisor then asked them additional questions to explore their answers and get more information on their evaluations, perspective and attitudes. This type of exercise (currently PQA based) is useful to assess communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills and further sift applicants prior to final interview so may well be picked up by other FRS.


5. Open days

It makes sense to attend an open day before applying to become a firefighter, but at the moment it might be that the dates aren’t convenient or location doesn’t work so you end up not getting round to it.

This could cost you your chance however; Kent FRS have now made it a requirement that you must attend one of their open days before you can apply, and other services are likely to follow.

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