Application Process



To be eligible to enter training at the Royal NZ Police College (RNZPC) you will need to successfully complete a range of assessments as well as a part-time Distance Learning course to reach the "candidate pool". How long it takes to get there will depend on your motivation levels, readiness and strength as an applicant. In general it takes a minimum of 6-12 months to step through the recruitment process to reach the candidate pool.

Reaching the candidate pool signals that you have the potential to become a cop and allows you to be considered for future wings at college.


Applicants must be physically fit and in excellent health. All candidates are assessed against medical standards that have been structured in line with the requirements of operational policing. More detailed information is summarised in the medical suitability guidelines.

There is no minimum height requirement. Tests are the Physical Appraisal Test (PAT), and the Physical Competency Test (PCT).

It is important that applicants meet the police fitness requirements to enable them to complete defensive tactics training at the RNZPC, and to cope with the myriad of potentially dangerous and random events that confront them every day in an operational setting as a police officer.

Rehearsals for the PAT

To practice for the real PAT, you must book in a compulsory PAT rehearsal, which is free and run regularly by Physical Education Officers. Your physical ability and fitness will be assessed and you’ll get advice on how to achieve the fitness requirements for the real test.

We recommend that you don’t sit the actual PAT until you can comfortably pass a rehearsal. Most applicants should be able to do this within three (3) rehearsal sessions, but all applicants have to complete at least one (1).

To book in a PAT Rehearsal call 0800 NEW COPS (0800 639 2677).

PAT requirements

For the PAT, you will be tested on four basic elements. These are:

  • The time it takes for you to run 2.4 kilometres
Age Male


Under 20 years 10 min 51 sec 12 min 54 sec
20 - 29 years 10 min 15 sec 11 min 50 sec
30 - 34 years 10 min 50 sec 12 min 25 sec
35 - 39 years 11 min 30 sec 13 min 10 sec
40+ years 12 min 15 sec 14 min 10 sec

  • Your vertical jump ability. For men this should be at least 48cm; for women, at least 40cm.
  • The number of correctly executed continuous press-ups you can do. For men this should be 34 or more; for women, 20 or more.
  • A test of your grip strength, which ensures you have the grip and forearm strength to operate firearms and to restrain and handcuff people. For men the combined total of both hands should be at least 96kg; for women, at least 52kg.

BMI data will be captured and used in conjunction with a waist to hip ratio to, if required, advise applicants of programmes to undertake weight reduction and therefore increase both health and fitness levels.

A PAT rehearsal will provide more information about these tests.

Your PAT needs to be valid 10-12 weeks prior to starting at the RNZPC. 

Watch the video below to see what’s involved in the PAT and the fitness levels you’ll need to pass it.

Pass the PAT

The Physical Competency Test (PCT)

The PCT establishes your ability to cope with the routine physical tasks that are part of front-line police work. It is a timed run on an obstacle course, and you’ll need to pass it before starting police college. You will be tested in 12 physical tasks, including a 200 metre run, pushing a trailer, walking along a raised beam, crawling under hurdles, and climbing through a window. However, these tasks shouldn't be difficult for people with average strength, fitness, balance, and co-ordination.

Candidates take the PCT sometime during the selection process. The main requirement is that you must have a valid PCT (valid for 1 year) before going to the RNZPC.

These standards serve to maximise officer safety by minimising risk and are designed for the protection of both the officer and the offender.

All police officers have to pass this every two years.

Watch below how recruits tackle the 12 different obstacles in the final PCT and find out what time you’ll need to achieve to be accepted.

Pass the PCT


The academic and problem-solving assessments measure general intellectual skills. They test your ability to see relationships and solve problems.

There are three parts to the psychometric assessment. They are: verbal, numerical, and abstract reasoning.

It is important that all police recruits have the ability to pass these assessments as they are an indicator of a person’s ability to cope with the intellectual demands of police training and police work. Struggling to pass them would indicate that you would benefit from developing these skills before going to the RNZPC.

There is a huge range of books on psychometric testing available from your book shop to help you prepare for the assessments. A relevant book to help you revise, containing vocabulary, numerical, and abstract patterns is: Joosten, V. (2000) Preparing for Career Selection Tests - Numeracy and General Ability, 2nd and 3rd editions.


When you sit your psychometric assessment we may also get you to take a foundation skills assessment. Unlike the psychometric assessment, this is not a road block to proceeding through the rest of the application process. It allows our recruitment staff to test your literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills to see whether you could benefit from any further development prior to going to Police College. Feedback from previous recruits is that they could have benefited from assistance during the application process to prepare for the demands of training at Police College.

If you meet the competencies of the skills test then you may not be required to undertake any further development.

If you do need up-skilling, we’ll refer you onto a training provider in your area (for example community colleges, polytechnics, or private training establishments). Keep in mind that this foundation skill development can happen in parallel with the rest of the application process, so it won’t slow you down. This is a mechanism to help prepare you for success on the front-line.


Personality traits have an impact on how people behave at work and within other settings.

Personality profiling is a written questionnaire designed to provide a picture of your likely strengths and weaknesses in specific personality areas, relevant to police work.

The assessment provides your recruiter with a guide as to what motivates you, what attitudes you have, what emotional characteristics you have, and how you handle interpersonal interactions.


The evolution of technology in society highlights the importance of possessing well-rounded computer skills. General PC skills such as email, researching online, and formatting documents in Microsoft Office should be at a level where you can successfully operate in a tertiary and business environment. Police officers need to be able to competently use a computer, keyboard and mouse.

The Typing Assessment simply gauges your familiarity with Windows-based personal computer software and your basic keyboard and mouse skills. You will be required to open Microsoft Word on a PC, which will be provided, and do a 10 minute copy-typing test. The minimum typing speed is 25 words per minute.


Once you’ve completed assessment day you may be invited to take a 12 week part-time Distance Learning course. This is a pre-requisite for any person starting at the Royal NZ Police College (RNZPC) after 1 October 2015 (not required for those starting at RNZPC before this date). The Distance Learning course runs in parallel with the remainder of the recruitment selection process. It provides a base level of knowledge about policing and is run by an external tertiary education provider.


The formal interview is conducted by a recruitment expert who will be looking for certain “behavioural competencies” essential for NZ Police officers.

You will be asked to speak about specific examples or occasions when you have displayed these behaviours, namely accountability for performance, exercising judgment, and building partnerships. You should also prepare to answer questions designed to test your alignment to police values of integrity, professionalism, respect and commitment to Māori and the Treaty.

Some tips before the interview:

  • Remember the more prepared you are, the less nervous you'll be.
  • Consider the experience and opportunities you’ve had to demonstrate each of the competencies. You should consider at least three examples that you can discuss in detail for each competency. The examples can be from either a work or non-work setting, depending on your experience.
  • Focus on discussing what you did, why and how you did it and describe your specific actions and behaviours.
  • Consider the reasons why you want to become a police officer.
  • Identify transferable skills, key accomplishments, work style, and personal and professional strengths and weaknesses.
  • Write down any questions you’d like to ask.



Throughout the recruitment process our staff will evaluate the extent to which you match the following core competencies. These may be asked about at your formal interview.

Accountability for performance

Effective performers take personal responsibility for achieving personal and team goals and targets. They set clear objectives and are committed to their work. They plan, prioritise and use their time and energy effectively to achieve desired outcomes. They promote accountability in others and take responsibility for their own actions and decisions.

Building partnerships

Effective performers work co-operatively with others to build partnerships and achieve desired outcomes. They actively network, create and maintain relationships that inspire trust among all stakeholders in order to share information and co-ordinate action effectively.

Challenging for continuous improvement

Effective performers are flexible and responsive to the changing needs of the community and organisation. They constantly seek improvement to ensure effective and efficient service delivery. They demonstrate the ability to adapt to new situations, and promote and encourage initiatives for personal and organisational improvement.

Exercising judgement

Effective performers seek out and make full use of all available information and experience to resolve a situation. They analyse the options and associated risks while considering possible solutions within time constraints. Once the analysis has been completed, they make sound decisions or recommendations.

Influential leadership

Effective performers communicate a vision, provide direction, coordinate and develop individuals and teams. They inspire and motivate others through personal example, while enabling colleagues to maximise potential. They use a combination of authority and influence at all levels of the organisation.


As future employees we want to ensure that your character and approach to both life and work matches our values. The following values are lived by NZ Police staff every day. During the recruitment process we will be looking for evidence of the following to ensure that as a new recruit you will continue to win the trust and confidence of everyone who lives in New Zealand:


Our employees take pride in representing police and making a difference in the communities they serve. Looking and behaving professionally, in combination with expertise, is essential to ensuring colleagues and communities feel safe and are safe. In short we want to “look the part, and be the part.”


Police should treat everyone with dignity, uphold their individual rights and honour their freedoms. We treat others as they would want to be treated. Being respectful of colleagues and the communities we work with builds trust and confidence in the organisation.


Police employees need to be honest and uphold excellent ethical standards. Our integrity as individuals, and as an organisation, is critical to building the trust and confidence of our colleagues and the communities we serve.

Commitment to Maori and the Treaty

Police act in good faith of, and respect, the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The principles are “partnership”, “protection” and “participation”. Working with Maori is essential to success. Police and Maori stand together, because only together can we build the support and relationships that will reverse the over-representation of Maori in the criminal justice system.


All police employees seek to understand and consider the experience and perspective of the people we serve. It’s about walking in other people’s shoes. Better results will be achieved when we appreciate situations from the point of view of all those we serve and work alongside.

Valuing diversity

We recognise the value which different perspectives and experiences bring to making us better at what we do. Reflecting the people we serve and appreciating different thinking will lead to better problem solving and better results. 



SCOPE is an acronym that stands for Surroundings, Conditions/descriptions, Organisation, People/prospects, and Effects/education/training. It is a chance for you to experience first hand what being a police officer is all about.

You will spend around 40 hours at a police station where you will observe as many different aspects of police work as possible. The officers who work with you during the 40 hours will evaluate you in relation to the core competencies required to be a police officer. 

SCOPE sessions are arranged by the recruitment team after you have been interviewed.


You will also be required during this time to have your fingerprints taken. These will then be checked against our database and if you are successful in your application, will be held on a database for elimination purposes from crime scenes you may attend as part of your work.


You must hold at least a restricted NZ Driver Licence before you can apply, and obtain a full NZ Driver Licence within 12 months of applying.

Swimming Certificate of Competency

This involves:

  • Swimming 50 metres within 54 seconds.
  • Treading water for 5 minutes.
  • Duck dive 3 metres to retrieve a rubber brick.

Find a swimming assessment centre in your area. If you can’t swim at the moment, don’t stress. We highly recommend you take some professional lessons - it could be the best investment you ever make!



Our recruitment staff will talk to three referees to check your suitability for entry into a career with the NZ Police. Appropriate referees would be past or present employers, people of good standing in the community who have known you for a significant length of time, and officials of clubs you belong to.