New Cops | Do you care enough?

The public have high expectations of the service they get from New Zealand Police. That's why we’re selective about who we employ. We encourage you to take a professional approach and treat every interaction with our staff as an opportunity to impress.

Overview of the selection process

To be eligible to enter training at the Royal NZ Police College (RNZPC) you need to successfully complete a range of assessments as well as a part-time distance learning course. Once these are completed you will enter the 'candidate pool'. How long it takes to get there will depend on your motivation levels, readiness and strength as an applicant. On average we would expect this to take between 6 and 12 months.

Our assessments will look at your suitability to be a cop, including your fitness levels, reasoning abilities, and your character. These assessments are explained below. You can find some further resources to help you prepare for the various assessments on the Start Training page.

After Submitting your Application
Initial Vetting

We'll use the information you provided in your application form to complete initial vetting enquiries. This can take up to five weeks.

Phone Conversation

We'll give you a call. This is a chance for us to ask you some questions and get to know you a little better. You can expect a call from one of our team within three weeks of initial vetting clearance.

Physical Appraisal Test – Rehearsal

To enter police college, you need to be physically fit and in excellent health. During the selection process, you’ll be assessed against a range of fitness standards that reflect the operational requirements of policing on the frontline. The best time to start training is now.

As part of your assessment day, you will take a Physical Appraisal Test (PAT) (explained further below). Before your assessment day, you must attend at least one (but no more than three) PAT rehearsal(s).  This rehearsal allows you to practise the PAT in the company of other applicants and our helpful Physical Education staff.  It's an opportunity to gauge where you are at in terms of your fitness and to get training tips for areas where you need to improve.  Although this session is not formally assessed, you will need to demonstrate your ability to meet the PAT standards before we can book you onto assessment day.

To book a PAT rehearsal call 0800 NEW COPS (0800 639 2677)

Initial Medical

We'll send you a health questionnaire to complete. Depending on circumstances you may also need to complete an asthma questionnaire and/or a vision examination at this stage. Once we've received your completed questionnaire(s), it can take up to six weeks to complete an initial health assessment.

Attend an Assessment Day
What is Expected?

On your assessment day you will complete a physical appraisal test, a psychometric assessment, and a personality profile. You may also be required to complete a literacy assessment. To complete all of these assessments you will need to allow about five hours, including time for breaks. In most locations, you’ll be expected to attend an assessment day within three months of receiving initial medical clearance.

Results from your assessments will be provided to you within two weeks.

Physical Appraisal Test (PAT)

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

1. The time it takes for you to run 2.4 kilometres




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

2. Your vertical jump ability

For males this should be at least 48cm; for females, at least 40cm.

3. The number of correctly executed continuous press-ups you can do

For males this should be 34 or more; for females 20 or more.

4. A test of your grip strength

This ensures you have the grip and forearm strength to operate firearms and to restrain and handcuff people. For males the combined total of both hands should be at least 96kg; for females, at least 52kg.

Body Mass Index (BMI) data will be captured and used in conjunction with a waist to hip ratio. If required, we will advise applicants of programmes to aide 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.

Psychometric Assessment

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:

  1. Verbal reasoning
  2. Numerical reasoning
  3. 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.

There is a wealth of books on psychometric testing available from your bookshop 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.

Personality Profile

Personality traits have an impact on how people behave at work and within other settings. A personality profile is a written questionnaire designed to provide a picture of your likely strengths and weaknesses in specific personality areas that are 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.

Literacy Assessment

If you don’t have a minimum education level of NZ UE English Language Literacy or equivalent, you will need to complete a literacy assessment. This assesses language literacy, and the content is specifically relevant to police officers.

For more information about NZ UE English Literacy standards, please visit the NZQA website. You can try some practice questions here.

Attend a Formal Interview
What is Expected?

The formal interview is conducted by a recruitment expert who will be looking for certain “behavioural competencies” essential for the role of a Police Officer. In most locations, you’ll attend a formal interview within eight weeks of completing an assessment day.

You will be asked to speak about specific examples or occasions when you have displayed these behaviours (partner, deliver, solve, communicate). You will also be asked to describe the context, your action(s), and result(s) for each example. You should also prepare to answer questions which demonstrate your alignment to police values. Think about what unique skills and experiences you would bring to the role e.g. speaking another language.

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.
Core Competencies

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.


Two-way communication is an essential part of what we do as an organisation. We listen carefully and convey information in a clear, constructive, and professional manner at all times.


We actively create and maintain relationships that inspire the trust of others. We seek to understand and appreciate our differences, and work cooperatively to share information and achieve desired outcomes.


We consider situations from different perspectives, explore alternatives and assess their consequences before taking action. We take responsibility for our decisions and are prepared to review and change our approach when required.


We are committed to delivering a high standard of service. We take personal responsibility for our performance – setting clear expectations, planning and prioritising our work, and seeking feedback from others in order to achieve our objectives.

NZ Police Values

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 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.

NZ Police's values may also be accessed in Maori, Hindi, Samoan or simplified Chinese.

Typing Assessment

The evolution of technology in society highlights the importance of possessing well-rounded computer skills. General computer 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 gauges your familiarity with Windows-based personal computer software and your basic keyboard and mouse skills. You will be required to operate 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.

There are free online tools available to assess your typing speed.

Pre-Police College Distance Learning Course
What is Distance Learning?

It is a prerequisite for any person starting at the Royal NZ Police College (RNZPC). 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. Most applicants will be invited to enrol on the next available cohort after successfully completing a formal interview.

What is SCOPE?

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 (in 4x10 hour shifts) alongside a police officer 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 and values required to be a police officer.

SCOPE sessions are arranged by the recruitment team after you have successfully completed the interview stage. 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. In most locations you'll complete your SCOPE shifts within eight weeks.

Other Assessments
Swimming Certificate

This involves:

  • Freestyle swim 50 metres, using an over-arm stroke, in 54 seconds or less 
  • Tread water for 5 minutes within a 1m radius in an upright position 
  • Swim 10 metres along surface, vertical duck dive 3 metres, retrieve a brick, and swim 10 metres on your back (using flutter or breaststroke kick) carrying the brick on your chest with two hands.
  • Find a swimming assessment centre in your area.

If you can’t swim now, we recommend you invest in swimming lessons- it could be the best decision you ever make! You'll need to have a swimming certificate before you attend an interview.

Physical Competencies 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 coordination.

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.

Background Enquiries

Our recruitment staff will talk to three referees to check your suitability for entry into a police career. Appropriate referees would be past or present employers, officials of clubs you belong to, or groups.

After you’ve completed SCOPE we will complete references checks and further vetting enquiries. We expect this to take up to three weeks.

Final Medical

You will undertake a final medical examination paid for by NZ Police.  Once we’ve received your GP's report it can take up to two weeks to complete a final medical assessment.

Costs Involved


Average cost

Medical report* $60-$150
Asthma report* $65-$100
Visual exam* $60-$150
Laser eye surgery* $2000-$7000
Specialist medical report* $300-$600
Overseas police check* $50-$150
Swimming certificate $15-$30
Distance learning $690


* if applicable