With many FRS altering their selection processes to include more and varied stages, VCA have teamed up with the Fire Service College to provide additional targeted exercises to help identity applicant potential.

The Community Exercise

The exercise is a practical combination of comprehension, presentation and roleplay exercise, covering six competency/ PQA areas from Problem Solving to Effective Communication.  Candidates have twenty minutes to read and evaluate supplied information about a ‘Community Support Team’ and prepare a short presentation to discuss chosen options. This information is presented to an assessor/ role-player who will then asks additional questions in character as the team supervisor.

Who has used it?

The exercise has been used by both Northamptonshire FRS (in two campaigns) and Shropshire FRS as a stage which comes after online ability testing and physical tests and before the final interview.


Based on their assessment, candidates score a percentage which can then be ranked. There is the recommended option of an automatic fail for a below average Commitment to Diversity & Integrity score.

Scores discriminate fairly and accurately between candidates, meaning those demonstrating the highest potential can be invited to final interview.

Managed service

This exercise is delivered by VCA Ltd, using our highly qualified and experienced assessors. Our team can assess up to 40 candidates per day, returning preliminary results at the end of each day.

The Selection Interview

VCA has designed an interview for use within the Firefighter Selection process and delivered this for Northamptonshire FRS in 2017 and 2018. The project used VCA’s team of external assessors and applicants were invited to attend the recruitment process at the Fire Service College at Moreton-in-Marsh.

The Interview includes four main PQA/behavioural questions with additional probing questions to draw out further details. The final two questions examine ‘motivation fit’, exploring the applicants understanding of the role and their potential contribution.

Candidate feedback for the interview was positive;

“I just wanted to extend my thanks for a very enjoyable and rewarding day. Can I extend my own thanks to assessors, they made me feel really at ease.”

Results from the exercise were impressive; a high standard of overall performance, but clear criteria-based discrimination between the higher and lower performing candidates.