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The process

The application process is a detailed and extremely time consuming to engage in – but it is designed to help us identify the very best applicants to become Calgary Police Service officers. From beginning to end, it may take anywhere from six to 12 months to complete.

1. Application Package

Application packages are available online and at the recruiting office located at 5111 47 Street N.E., Calgary AB.

Application packages MUST contain ALL of the following information:

Please note: The information required for submission in the application package is extensive. Please ensure you allow sufficient time to diligently work through it carefully. It is your responsibility to ensure the information you provide is as completely as possible.  Application packages with incomplete or missing information or illegible writing will be returned as unprocessed.

Completed applications can be mailed (or delivered in person) to:

Calgary Police Service
Recruiting Unit
Mail code 814
5111 47 Street N.E.
Calgary, AB T3J 3R2

Applications are valid for one year from the date of submission. Those who have been out of the selection process beyond this period must submit a new application. Applicants may be deferred, without appeal at any stage of the selection process, based on competitiveness. In some cases, permanent disqualification from reapplication may occur regardless of deferral policy.

2. PDF & Application Review

Once your application is received, it will be reviewed to ensure the information is complete. If it is, you will receive notification indicating it has successfully been reviewed and is awaiting assignment. Your file will then be assigned to a file manager who will review the PDF document for competitiveness, and to assess integrity and honesty issues. Due to the high volume of incoming applications, this step can take several months. Once your application is successfully reviewed you will be invited to move forward in the process.

3. Written Testing

As per provincial guidelines, anyone interested in a policing career must write the Alberta Communication Test (ACT) and the Alberta Police Cognitive Ability Test (APCAT).

Successful completion of both the ACT and APCAT exams is required for applicants to proceed further in the CPS process. Applicants with successful test results from another Alberta policing agency and a completed application package are eligible to proceed directly to the A-PREP (fitness testing) stage. Passing scores for each of the ACT and APCAT are valid for five years.

Alberta Communication Test (ACT)

The Alberta Communication Test takes one hour and 35 minutes to complete (including instructions and break). It is designed to assess an applicant's ability to communicate in writing.

Using a multiple-choice format, the test covers reading vocabulary, spelling and grammar.

Applicants can write this exam as many times as necessary to pass. Minimum wait periods before writing again after a fail are as follows:

First attempt: One month deferral
Second attempt: Six month deferral
Third attempt: 12 month deferral
(after each attempt deferral period doubles)

ACT minimum passing mark is 73/134

Alberta Police Cognitive Ability Test (APCAT)

This is job-related written exam takes approximately three hours to complete. The test consists of 120 multiple choice questions. The five areas of general cognitive ability that are assessed are judgment, observation skills, learning/memory recall, written communication and problem analysis.

Applicants can only write this exam three times before receiving a permanent deferral. Minimum wait periods after a fail are:

First attempt - 1 month deferral
Second attempt - 3 month deferral
Third attempt - lifetime deferral

APCAT minimum passing mark 84/120

While both tests are required for the application process, they do not have to be written at the same time.

The ACT is designed to assess ability to communicate in writing and the APCAT is job-related. Applicants will not be provided with their test marks on the day of writing.

Applicants will be contacted two to three weeks after and provided with their scores. Applicants would be a position to continue in the CPS selection process after passing the exams.

For more information about the APCAT test, please refer to the APCAT pre-test guide.

4. Physical Testing

A-PREP (Alberta Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police) is the police recruit selection physical abilities test used by all municipal police agencies in Alberta.

The A-PREP can be a very challenging test to successfully complete if you haven’t trained specifically for it. We strongly encourage applicants to come prepared for this stage of the process in an effort to minimize delays.

A-PREP has three separate components:

  1. A screening component to ensure the applicant is medically suitable to undergo the test.
  2. A series of job simulation tasks arranged in a pursuit/restraint circuit.
  3. An assessment of aerobic fitness (the Aerobic Shuttle Run). For a detailed description of the A-PREP test please see "Fit to serve."

Please Note: When taking the A-PREP, out of town applicants MUST bring their PARmed-X and medical clearance forms completed by a physician. This will ensure that you are able to take the test regardless of the blood pressure taken on site the day in question.

*Although not mandatory for in-town applicants we recommend this course of action regardless as a high blood pressure reading on the day of testing (without the doctor's forms) will disqualify you from being able to perform the test.

Prior to attending the A-PREP all applicants must read the PAR-Q. This will help applicants determine if they are required to have doctor's consent to participate in the A-PREP.

Applicants who answer yes to any of the following questions require the PARmed-X and medical clearance forms to be completed by a physician before they can run the A-PREP:

  • You are over 40 years of age and not accustomed to regular strenuous (vigorous) exercise.
  • You possess two or more of the following major coronary risk factors:
    • family history of a heart attack or sudden death before 55 years of age;
    • currently smoke cigarettes;
    • have high blood pressure;
    • have diabetes mellitus;
    • have high blood cholesterol; or,
    • are in a sedentary occupation and are physically inactive.

PAR-Q | PARmed-X/Medical Clearance forms

All applicants will have their blood pressure taken on site, on the day of their A-PREP test. Their blood pressure must be below 145/95 mmHg.

Applicants are encouraged to read the following guide: "Fit to serve." It will answer many of the questions about A-PREP as well as give valuable information on how to prepare for the A-PREP test.

5. PDF Interview

The step involves the applicant sitting down with a file manager and reviewing in significant details their PDF document and personal history. This interview assesses most importantly your integrity and honesty and substantial weight is place on your ability to take responsibility for your past actions. This interview can be long, so plan to spend several hours with your file manager.

6. BDI Interview

The Behavioural Descriptive Interview (BDI) is based on the philosophy that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour.

The interview is designed to evaluate the applicant's character as it relates to the chosen competencies. These competencies reflect the skills and behaviours demonstrated by successful police officers. Each behavioural competency question relates to an experience or event in an applicant’s past.

A question will be asked for five of the six competencies:

  1. Adaptability/decisiveness
  2. Initiative/perseverance
  3. Interpersonal skills
  4. Organizational skills
  5. Stress management
  6. Valuing service and diversity

Applicants must clearly describe a personal experience, including the situation, all of their actions and the end result. The BDI is conducted by your file manager and two active and/or retired members of the CPS.

The behavioural competencies that form the basis of the BDI are:

  1. Adaptability/Decisiveness
    • Ability and confidence to vary between being flexible and holding firm on a decision, depending on what the situation requires.
    • Showing leadership by adjusting one's approach to the demands of a particular task by taking and maintaining a position in a self-assured manner.

  2. Initiative/Perseverance
    • Willingness to take action to address needs without being requested to do so.
    • Staying on-task to completion, particularly in the face of obstacles or other trying circumstances.

  3. Interpersonal Skills
    • Ability to work effectively with different people and teams of people by putting others at ease.
    • Acknowledging diverse opinions, addressing relevant concerns, minimizing conflict, promoting harmony.
    • Cooperating with others and working toward consensual solutions to achieve the group's objectives.

  4. Organizational Skills
    • Ability to identify and set priorities, plan and effectively allocate appropriate resources.
    • To attend to detail so that relevant issues are addressed and result in high-quality outcomes.

  5. Stress Management
    • Ability to work well under pressure or opposition
    • Maintaining effectiveness and self-control in the midst of any one or combination of stressors, including emotional strain, ambiguity, risk to self and fatigue.

  6. Valuing Service and Diversity
    • Ability to be sensitive to client and community needs and perceptions by providing prompt, efficient and equitable service
    • Involving clients and community in the resolution of problems that affect them.

      How to Prepare for the Panel Interview

      When preparing for the BDI, we recommend applicants familiarize themselves with the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Each example should include:

      Situation – set the groundwork for the example
      Task – outlines what goal you had to accomplish
      Action – what did YOU do
      Result – what is the outcome of your actions
      LINK to Standards section – eps site
      It is very important to prepare and practice responses to anticipated interview questions.

      Tip: Document examples or experiences that demonstrate the six competencies in a positive manner. The interviewer will assess an applicant’s response to stressful conditions and how well the example demonstrates the competency.

      The Calgary Police Service offers a full day training session on how to prepare for the BDI panel interview. The file manager will register the applicant for the course at the appropriate stage of the process.

  7. Psychological Testing

    Once you pass the panel interview you will be invited to write the psychological exams.  These tests take several hours to complete and are not something you can study for. File managers will provide additional information to applicants as they reach this step in the process.

  8.  Polygraph Examination

    A specially trained polygraphist will conduct this examination.  Please note that we conduct a pre-employment polygraph, not a criminal interrogation. If you have been honest and up front throughout the application process, you should have no concerns about the polygraph stage.

  9. Background Investigation

    Once you reach this step in the process your file is assigned for background investigation by a retired CPS member.  They will interview various people from your life, including present and past employers and colleagues, friends, neighbours, etc.  They will contact people you have identified in your application package and others you have not.

    At the end of the background investigation, the backgrounder will prepare a detailed report for the file manager and Sergeant’s review.

  10. Pre-Selection

    It is at this stage that the entirety of your application is reviewed by your file manager and the recruiting unit Sergeant to determine suitability for recommendation for hire and competitiveness against others in the applicant pool. 

  11. Selection

    It is at this stage that your file manager presents your application to a board of senior officers and recommends you for hire.  It is this board of officers that make the final hiring decision and either recommend applicants be hired or deferred. You will receive a call afterwards from your file manager advising you of their decision.

  12. Conditional Offer of Employment/Pre-Employment Medical

    Congratulations, you are now conditionally employed as a CPS police officer!  At this stage a physician contracted by the City of Calgary will conduct a pre-employment medical exam on you to ensure you are suitable to perform the tasks related to police work.