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Prison Officer Recruitment Process

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Prepare for success in the selection process

*Based off the previous Information booklets released by PAS (Public Appointments Service) candidates will face a number of stages including online assessment tests and a competency-based interview. 

Applicants face a number of stages in the selection process including:

  • Application Form
  • Stage 1 Online Assessments (Verbal, Numerical, Assessment Tests)
  • Competency Based Interview

The initial stages of the selection process are conducted by the Public Appointments Service. More detailed information in relation to selection methods is made available as candidates progress through the process.

Please see the PAS Information Booklet for full details of the selection process. 

Stages of Prison Officer Recruitment

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.

Am I eligible to join?

Eligibility criteria and requirements are outlined at the start of a campaign in a booklet called ‘Notes For Candidates’ which is a downloadable document.


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.

Prepare for success in the selection process
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What is a Recruit Prison Officer?

The Recruit Prison Officer (RPO) is the entry level to the Service. When a recruitment campaign is launched the Prison Service set up a panel from which vacancies arising in the Irish Prison Service may be filled. Vacancies are usually filled at Recruit Prison Officer level initially. 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.

Working as a Recruit Prison Officer can be complex and difficult, but it can be varied, challenging and highly rewarding. We are looking for individuals who have the capacity to relate to and engage with prisoners, act with professionalism, tolerance and humanity and the ability to role model positive social behaviour. They must also have the ability to think on their feet in dealing with situations which require security and control.

Prison Officers HomeEntry Requirements

Prison Officer Assessments & Interview

We run renowned preparation courses for the assessments tests and competency-based interview that candidates will face as part of the selection process.

These recruitment competitions can attract thousands of applications and those that succeed are those that are prepared and perform well in the selection stages. Get a full tuition on the Recruit Prison Officer assessments and prepare with us for your interview. We have a proven track record with over 30 years of assessment industry experience.

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

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