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Prison Officer FAQ's

See below for some common FAQ's

We are a private education company that specialises in preparing candidates for the assessment tests used in the selection process for a number of careers including Prison Officer Recruits, but we are not affiliated with the official process. While we are happy to provide you with general information, we would recommend that you contact the official sources for the most accurate and up to date information.

How do I become a Prison Officer?

The Recruit Prison Officer (RPO) is the entry level to the Irish Prison Service. Following the successful completion of 3 years’ service including probation and a Higher Certificate in Custodial Care, the Recruit Prison Officer will be appointed as an Established Prison Officer. These positions also involve a number of stages which candidates must pass. Interested applicants will be required to complete a number of aptitude tests and an interview as part of the selection process when a campaign is launched.

How do I apply?

In order to apply for a position of Recruit Prison Officer, in the Irish Prison Service, you must wait for a recruitment campaign to be launched. The Public Appointments Service ( is the centralised recruiter for the Irish Prison Service and they process the candidates on their behalf. Eligibility criteria and requirements are outlined at the start of a campaign in an Information booklet issued by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

We offer a Free Job Alert which you can sign up to to stay informed of the next recruitment campaign:

What are the eligibility requirements?

Eligibility criteria and requirements are outlined at the start of a campaign in an Information booklet issued by the Public Appointments Service (PAS). These tend to remain similar for each recruitment campaign. See below for an example of recent campaigns:

In order to be eligible for selection as a Recruit Prison Officer, an applicant must, on the closing date , satisfy all of the following requirements:

(a) Age

Be at least 18 years of age i.e., must have been born on or before the 4th of August 2004;


(b) Educational Qualifications

Applicants must:(i) have obtained in the Established Leaving Certificate a minimum of grade D3 (O6 post 2017) at Ordinary level, or C3 (F5 from 2017) at Foundation Level, in at least 5 subjects*;


(ii) hold a minimum of a Level 5 Major award** (120 credits) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ);


(iii) hold a recognised qualification (at Level 5 or greater), deemed comparable to the above in terms of both level and volume of learning as determined by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)


In certain cases, a Pass in the Applied Leaving Certificate may be deemed equivalent to a Leaving Certificate.

*A Pass or above in the Links Modules subject may be counted as one subject.

** A Fetac Level 5 or 6 major award will have 120 Credits (Please note any certificate which has a lower number is only a Minor Award and is not sufficient to determine eligibility). Note: A combination of two or more exam sittings may be permitted in determining eligibility.

Recognition of other qualifications

The Public Appointments Service may verify the validity of qualifications other than the Leaving Certificate with Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Candidates may refer to the
National Academic Recognition Information Centre which offers advice on the academic recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland. Determining eligibility requirements: You should note that candidates’ qualifications/eligibility may not be confirmed until the latter stages of the selection/appointments process. Therefore, candidates who do not possess the essential requirements on the closing date and who proceed with their application will not be eligible to be selected or offered a position in this competition. Candidates who are unable to show that they hold the required qualifications may be withdrawn from the competition at any stage. An invitation to tests, interview or any element of the selection process is not acceptance of eligibility.


Citizenship Requirements

Eligible candidates must be:

a) a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA consists of the Member States of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway;


b) A citizen of the United Kingdom (UK);


c) A citizen of Switzerland pursuant to the agreement between the EU and
Switzerland on the free movement of persons;


d) A non-EEA citizen who is a spouse or child of an EEA or UK or Swiss citizen and
has a stamp 4 visa;


e) A person awarded international protection under the International Protection Act 2015 or any family member entitled to remain in the State as a result of family reunification and has a stamp 4 visa;


f) A non-EEA citizen who is a parent of a dependent child who is a citizen of, and resident in, an EEA member state or the UK or Switzerland and has a stamp 4 visa.

To qualify, candidates must be eligible by the date of any job offer.

What is the recruitment process?

Applicants face a number of stages in the selection process.


When a new Prison Officer campaign is launched applications are taken by the Public Appointments Service on their website The Public Appointments Service is the centralised recruiter for the Irish Prison Service and they will process the candidates on their behalf.

Stage 1 – Prison Officer Aptitude Tests

Applicants are usually firstly invited to complete a series of online assessments. These can include an Assessment Questionnaire as well as Verbal and Numerical Reasoning Tests and are remotely proctored (supervised).


Stage 2 – Role Play Exercise

The Stage 2 exercise is to be undertaken via Zoom and candidates are given a brief to read with a situation. In these kinds of assessments the situation usually involves some kind of conflict which could include for example dealing with a difficult customer. You are presented with a written scenario and will be given 10 minutes to read over it and take notes which you can refer to during the Role Play exercise.  After this the Role Play Exercise begins with an actor.

Stage 3 – Competency Based Interview

A competency based interview is a highly structured interview where candidates are informed in advance of a number of key competencies. The competencies which are predefined by the interview board are key skills deemed necessary to serve effectively as a Prison Officer.  During the interview candidates are asked to give examples of instances when they displayed each of the competencies effectively. Most people pick examples from their previous work experience, voluntary experience, educational experience or a hobby that that they enjoy. All candidates are assessed on the same competencies to ensure that there is fairness in the selection process.

Stage 4 – The Physical Competence Test & Medical Examination

The job of the Recruit Prison Officer entails quite a high level of interpersonal contact in a supervisory capacity with responsibility for the care, safety and security of offenders. A Prison Officer needs to be very vigilant with regard to security and have a good level of physical fitness. The physical demands range from walking, standing, climbing stairs to responding in emergency situations such as riots, fights and fires. Recruit Prison Officers receive training in control and restraint techniques (C&R) and in specialist fire equipment both as part of the initial training and throughout the course of their career. Therefore, Recruit Prison Officers need to be physically fit and have a standard of health such that neither their safety, the safety of their colleagues nor the safety of prisoners should be compromised.

Candidates who have been successful at Stage 3 and have been placed high enough to be considered at Stage 4 of the selection process may/will be required to complete an on-line pre- employment health questionnaire and undergo a pre-employment medical examination. This will be followed by a Physical Competency Test (PCT) administered by the Irish Prison Service which aims to assess your level of fitness, strength and manual dexterity as well as your level of confidence in simulated exercises.


Preparing for success in the Selection Stages

Our preparation course offers expert guidance on preparing for the Recruit Prison Officer recruitment process. The course  includes lessons and practice tests in verbal, numerical and logical reasoning as well as guidance on job simulations tests, assessment questionnaires and the interview. Full details and booking for our online preparation course are available here:

Useful contacts

Public Appointments Services

Phone: 01 858 7400

Irish Prison Service

Phone: 043 333 5100

How can I succeed in the recruitment process?

Our expertly created online preparation courses are tailored specifically for the Irish Prison Service’s recruitment stages. Whether it’s mastering aptitude tests or shining in competency-based interviews, our comprehensive preparation is your key to success. Find out more here

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Please note: We are not affiliated with the official recruiter and our courses are optional.