VCA is the leading assessment provider to the UKFRS and offers the largest portfolio of fire service assessment centre exercises available. We have been designing and delivering assessments for firefighter recruitment, promotion and senior officer selection for nearly twenty years.

Our products and services are continually updated to meet changes to national frameworks, role profiles and delivery methods whilst always ensuring the use of best practice to give fair and accurate results.

Our assessment centres have been instrumental in helping many UKFRS select the best candidates.

Most organisations use an application form somewhere in their recruitment/ selection processes. And most also realise that one size does not fit all.

We work with clients to create bespoke application forms.

These can be based on existing formats or designed from scratch.

Our methods ensure:

  • Your preferred style of questioning is covered e.g. Behavioural/ competency or leadership based; strengths-based
  • There are clear criteria to measure responses against
  • Straight-forward assessment techniques to make marking easier
  • There are no hidden biases or errors in the form
  • Updated versions of questions are at a consistent level with previously used ones
  • Questions are relevant to the role
  • Questions are correctly written to obtain reliable and valid results
  • Scoring is streamlined and efficient

Job vacancies often attract a high volume of applications. Outsourcing the sifting of these is an effective use of resources. Your organisation will obtain final results more efficiently and easily than handling this in-house.

Our reliable marking service offers:

  • A quick turnaround of results from closing date to short-list
  • Accurate assessments delivered by our specialist Occupational Psychology and HR team
  • Evidence based decisions
  • Easy to interpret results spreadsheets
  • Freeing up of your internal staff resources
  • Brief feedback supplied if required
Online realistic job previews (RJP) are increasingly popular as a means of reducing high volume applications to a manageable number.

How it works:
Applicants are directed to an online tool where they answer a number of multiple choice questions relevant to the role.
Designed to provide an accurate overview of the role through sample statements, this test will provide users with the information of their suitability before beginning any job applications.

The benefits:

  • Applicants get a realistic idea of what the job will entail
  • They can ‘self-select’ i.e. if they don’t like what is covered in the preview they may decide the role isn’t right for them
  • The tool will give a rating to inform applicants if they are a ‘suitable fit’ for the role
  • Poor performing applicants will be discounted from further stages of the application process
  • Staff resources can then be focused on applicants with higher potential/ suitability
  • The test will appear professional, relevant and fair
  • The test will be user-friendly, interesting and informative, providing a positive impression of the organisation

Existing interview questions can’t be used forever, and eventually they will need to be replaced.

We can write new interview questions to fit with your existing process, making sure they are:

  • based on the appropriate competencies/ PQAs/ leadership qualities
  • are user friendly for the interviewer and simple to interpret by the interviewee
  • consistent in language and complexity with previously used questions
  • sufficiently different from previous questions
  • work with the existing scoring mechanisms
  • straightforward to evaluate to deliver final results

In addition to competency style questions we can also write items to assess Motivation, Values Fit, Understanding of the role plus others.

With many FRS altering their selection processes to include more and varied stages, VCA has designed a presentation roleplay to be used as an additional stage of candidate sifting.

The Presentation Role-play

The exercise is a practical combination of comprehension, presentation and roleplay exercise. It can measure competencies, leadership qualities or other relevant criteria.

Candidates have twenty minutes to read and evaluate information on a relevant (i.e. related but usually non-FRS topic). They then prepare a short presentation to informally communicate to an assessor who will also roleplay their audience and ask questions on their presentation and views afterwards. The information is supplied on the day to ensure all candidates spend the same length of time preparing, and is generally set in a non-FRS context to ensure fairness to all candidates.

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.


Clients can buy the exercise for internal use, priced per candidate or can out-source the assessment to our expert team of FRS experienced assessors. The exercise can be managed either face-to-face or to reduce costs delivered online i.e. via a telephone interview.