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 recruitment 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

You will receive an email from our NZ Police recruitment staff once we have completed initial vetting.

Expect a Call from our Recruitment Staff

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.

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. If you’re not super fit right now, don’t let this stop you. The best time to start training is now.

As part of your Assessment Day you will take a Physical Appraisal Test (explained further below). Before you attend an Assessment Day we expect that you will go to a Physical Appraisal Test Rehearsal.  This rehearsal allows you to practice the physical appraisal test in the company of other potential recruits and our helpful Physical Education staff. This session is compulsory to attend but it will not be assessed. It is simply 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.

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

To book into a PAT rehearsal in your area, call 0800 NEW COPS (0800 639 2677)

Complete a Health Questionnaire

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.

Attend an Assessment Day
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. Struggling to pass them would indicate that you would benefit from developing these skills before going to the RNZPC.

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.

Prepare for Success - Literacy Assessment

When you sit your psychometric assessment we will also get you to take a literacy 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 assess your literacy skills to see whether you could benefit from any further development.

Feedback from previous recruits is that they could have benefited from assistance during the application process to prepare for the demands of training at Royal NZ Police College (RNZPC). If you meet the competencies of this assessment 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 skill development can happen in parallel with the rest of the application process, so it won’t necessarily slow you down. This is a mechanism to help prepare you for success on the frontline.

Personality Profiling

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 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.

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.

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.

Typing Skills 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.

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.

Pre-Police College Distance Learning Course
Once you’ve met the required standards at the formal interview you may be invited to take a 12-week part-time 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.

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 required to be a police officer.

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

Other Assessments
Swimming Certificate of Competence

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 
  • Duck dive 3 metres, retrieve a brick and swim 10 metres on back carrying brick. 
  • Find a swimming assessment centre in your area.

If you can’t swim now, don’t stress. We highly recommend you take some professional lessons - it could be the best decision you ever make!

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.

In addition, we will also conduct further vetting enquiries.

Final Medicals

Undertake a final medical examination. This is paid for by NZ Police.

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
Swim certificate $15-$30
Distance learning $690


* if applicable