Initial Selection Test - Candidate Briefing and Instructions


The Initial Selection Test (IST) is the first stage of the assessment process. This briefing document is intended to help you prepare for the IST.

When your fully completed application is received it will be reviewed thoroughly and if you meet the eligibility requirements you will receive an email containing a unique link to the online IST. You can then complete the test at any time during the defined period that the online IST will be open for this recruitment campaign. The email will clearly outline this time line.

Information and instructions on completing the online Initial Selection Test (Please read all of the following information very carefully):

We will email you with details of your online IST from either our or mailboxes. (Please ensure that these email addresses are included on the 'safe senders list' of your email account and check regularly for emails from us).

Should you wish to contact the Deloitte Recruitment Team please do not attempt to reply to your IST invitation email from the as this mailbox is not actively monitored for incoming email, and email sent to this mailbox will not be responded to.

You may email with queries. If doing so include your full name and UID number (which you will find at the beginning of your IST invite email). Before attempting to contact us we would encourage you to consider the comprehensive information provided about the IST below.

1. The Initial Selection Test

The IST will be conducted online only. You will access the IST via a unique link specific to you. This link is provided within your invitation email. You should be aware that you will have only one opportunity to use this link to submit a fully completed IST (this campaign).

The IST is made up of two assessments designed by Deloitte for the Police Service of Northern Ireland; a situational judgement test and a verbal reasoning assessment. So that you understand what a situational judgement test and a verbal reasoning assessment involve, we have given you a description of each within the appendix of this document.

You will be required to take the situational judgement test, then the verbal reasoning assessment. Both elements of the IST must be completed in the one sitting, and you must complete the IST fully by 12:00 noon on 8th December 2021. If you fail to meet the deadline you will not be able to progress in this recruitment process. Partially completed ISTs will not be considered. Please note that as soon as you commence the test questions, the IST will register as being in progress. You cannot then return to your assessment to fully complete it at a later time.

All candidates who successfully pass the online IST will be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process, and be given an opportunity to provide evidence in relation to the PSNI education criteria, before progressing to the Assessment Centre.

2. Preparing for your Initial Selection Test

Detailed instructions for both assessments will be provided when you log on to complete the IST (the screen shot below illustrates how the instructions will look on screen). Before taking the assessment you will have as much time as you need to read through the instructions for both tests and you will have the opportunity to complete practice questions to ensure you are fully prepared for the assessment. 


To help you prepare for your IST you can access some practice questions via the 'How Do I Join' section of the website.

N.B. The Police Service of Northern Ireland selection process (including the IST) is a bespoke design, which is delivered by and copyright to Deloitte. Please be cautious of unofficial training providers engaged in tutoring potential applicants on elements of the process. These training providers are not endorsed. (No one outside of the Deloitte design team has the appropriate knowledge to help applicants prepare).

3. Rules for your Initial Selection Test

While there are certain system-based safeguards we have in place, you too have a role to play in ensuring that high professional standards are upheld during the IST stage of police officer recruitment.

  • Prior to commencing your online IST, you will be prompted to complete an Applicant Agreement which will ask you to confirm that you are completing the assessment unassisted and that you will not attempt to copy or leak information related to the test.
  • You will be required to consent to the use of your data and automated decision making in the processing of your responses to the assessment.
  • You must sit the IST unassisted. For validation and test-security purposes, please be aware that you may be asked to re-take the IST during the Assessment Centre stage of the recruitment process.  
  • You must not attempt to copy material from the IST. Any attempt to copy or share materials from this test will result in exclusion from the recruitment process.
  • Public discussion / sharing of information about the IST by any means, including via Facebook, Twitter or via any other forum is strictly prohibited.

4. Recommendations for completing the Initial Selection Test

To give yourself the very best opportunity to do well in your IST it is important that you adhere to the following:

  • You should ensure that you have stable internet access when attempting to complete the IST.
  • We would recommend that you complete the IST on a PC or laptop. Tablets can be used.
  • Your IST will be timed so you should work quickly and accurately. Details of timing will be stipulated within each section of the IST. A visible timer will not be displayed onscreen, therefore you may wish to equip yourself with a stopwatch / clock to help you manage your own time.
  • There is no negative marking in the IST (i.e. marks are not deducted for incorrect answers, these will receive a score of zero).
  • You must complete the verbal reasoning assessment immediately after completing the situational judgment test. There will be a break-in between the two assessments, but you must not log-off during this period as you will not be able re-access your test. 
  • You must not deliberately log off or disconnect while in the middle of either the situational judgement test or the verbal reasoning assessment. However if you unavoidably lose internet connection the system will deal with this matter automatically. See section 6 below for further details.

5. Minimum system and device requirements

The online IST platform is browser based and can be accessed via laptop, tablet and desktop. You will be able to access the online IST system via the following browsers (and any later versions subsequent to those listed below):

  • The latest versions of Chrome and Firefox on Windows 10 and macOS 10.14+
  • Microsoft Edge on Windows 10
  • Safari on macOS 10.14 (Experimental)
  • Chrome browser on Android (Android 8+)
  • Safari on iPhone (iOS 11+)

Optimal Operating Systems: Windows 10, macOS 10.12+, iPhone 7+, Any mobile device using Android device 8+ with Chrome.

If you are trying to access the online IST on a non-compatible (e.g. very early version/outdated browser, this will be flagged when you log in, advising you to upgrade to a more up to date browser version.

6. Dealing with loss of internet while completing your Initial Selection Test

If you lose internet connection or are disconnected from the test platform for any reason, do not worry, the system will handle such instances so that your progress to date is captured. You must contact the Deloitte Recruitment Team via email to to make us aware of any issue as soon as possible. Deloitte will liaise with Sova Assessments to ensure that you can fully complete your IST.

7. Accessing and completing your Initial Selection Test

It will take less than one hour for you to complete the whole IST process online. The system will close promptly, so it is important that you leave plenty of time aside to ensure that you can complete the IST by the deadline (12:00 noon on 8th December 2021). Exceptions to this deadline will not be made.

You will access the IST via the unique link issued to you in your invitation email. By using this link you will be directed to our dedicated secure online IST platform hosted by Sova Assessments. When accessing the IST via the link your test will appear. Since the test is unique to you there will be no need to provide any personal details within the test platform. The system will automatically attribute your test performance to you.

You can only access the test using one computer or device at a time and the system will record your internet IP address when you first access the test (i.e. from you click the link in your email). This IP address will be retained for 60 minutes and as such, if you try to access the test from another IP address within 60 minutes, you will not be able to do so. If you need to access the test using a different IP address please wait until the original 60 minutes has lapsed before attempting to re-access the test. You will then be allowed back into the system and the system will record the new IP address against your record.

Please note this 60 minutes only relates to the IP address and is separate to the time allocation for completing the test questions.

When you have successfully completed your IST you will see a confirmation screen indicating that you have completed the IST. To ensure that your submission is registered it is important that you follow all on-screen instructions. Please note that you will not receive an automatic email to confirm your submission. 

8. Supporting you while you complete your Initial Selection Test

It is anticipated that the process you will follow in completing your IST will be straightforward.

Before clicking on your IST link we would ask you to ensure that you have a stable internet connection. If you experience genuine technical difficulties while attempting to access your IST, we would ask that in the first instance you attempt to gain access by using a different device, however you must use the same internet connection. As soon as you click your IST link, the URL will register to your internet connection, meaning the link will not work if you attempt to use it on a different internet connection. This is part of the security built into the IST to ensure that your unique link can only be used once.

If you continue to have difficulties with accessing / completing your IST having made best efforts and having tried the different means of access suggested you should contact Deloitte by email at Include your full name and UID number and it will help if you can provide precise details of the access problems you experience (e.g. details of your internet browser), and details of any error messages you see on-screen. Do not attempt to contact the platform host Sova Assessments.

9. Results of your Initial Selection Test

Deloitte will email all participants with the outcome of their IST. We would ask for your patience while we process results.

Please remember that you will not receive an automatic email to confirm the completion of your IST, but providing you follow all on-screen instructions your submission will be registered. We are sorry but we will not be in a position to confirm IST submissions on an individual basis during the open IST phase.

Please be aware that all candidates who successfully pass the IST and are subsequently invited to the Assessment Centre stage of the recruitment process may be expected to complete a re-test of the online IST during the Assessment Centre session.


The Situational Judgement Test

This test is designed to assess your ability in exercising judgment and making decisions in work-based scenarios.

For the purposes of the Situational Judgement Test you will be asked to adopt the role of a Customer Support Officer at a shopping centre. No background knowledge in customer service is required for the purposes of this assessment.

You will be asked to carefully read each passage and then select which of the response options in the 'Most Effective' and which of the response options is the 'Least Effective'.

  • Select 'Most Effective' for the response option that you think is the most effective response to the situation from the options provided
  • Select 'Least Effective' for the response option that you think is the least effective response to the situation from the options provided
  • Once you have your responses you should click next to proceed
  • If you would like to change your answers at any point during the question, please re-click your initial answer. This will then re-set your responses

The test will be timed and it will be up to you to monitor your own time as you go through the test.

Below is an example of how the Situational Judgement Test questions will look on screen. Taking the assessment is very intuitive; you will be prompted to select the 'most effective' and 'least effective' option from the list on the right hand side. Once selected, your response selections will be clearly highlighted and you can change your selections as many times as you like. You will not be able to move onto the next questions until you have selected both options.


Verbal Reasoning Assessment 

The verbal reasoning assessment is designed to assess your ability to understand a short passage of text.

Each question will include a short passage of text, followed by a series of statements. You will be required to carefully read each passage and then, for each statement that follows, indicate on the answer sheet whether you consider that it is TRUE, FALSE, or CAN'T TELL (not enough information).

  • To qualify as a TRUE a statement should follow logically from statements in the passage or should be a conclusion that, from the evidence in the passage, cannot be challenged
  • To qualify as a FALSE, a statement should not follow logically from the statements in the passage or should be a conclusion that, from the evidence in the passage, can be challenged
  • To qualify as CANNOT TELL there should be insufficient information in the passage to decide whether the statement is true or false

You should base your reasoning in the assumption that factual statements in the passages are true for the sake of this test, even if you believe them to be false in the real world.

Below is an example of how the verbal reasoning questions will look on screen.