Being prepared goes a long way towards boosting a candidate's chances of being selected for the Hong Kong Police Force, which is looking to recruit 150 inspectors and 1,082 constables this fiscal year.
"It's not easy to get in. It requires a lot of preparation," says Inspector Carmen Leung Oi-lam, who has been interested in police work since her university days.
"Go to the force's website and take a look at what's going on. Read the newspapers and keep abreast of news and [current affairs]," she says.
Leung, who graduated with a finance degree from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2006, was fortunate because she had been part of the Police Mentorship Programme in her second year of university, helping her to establish contact with police officers and learn about life in the force.
It also helps to know how recruitment is handled. Inspector Paul Mak Chung-kit made sure he was familiar with every step in the recruitment process.
"I had friends who were interested in the police force, so we formed a learning group to discuss current affairs and issues, talk about the interview process and prepared together," he says.
Candidates also need good presentation skills. "This is very important," Leung says. "During the interview, candidates may be required to give a briefing and [make a] presentation."
Leadership skills are also essential, according to Mak. "Leadership training is not a matter of training for one or two days. You have to live life in such a way that you exercise your leadership [skills] whenever you can," he says.
"For example, if you try to offer direction in a group project, you are actually being a leader, even though you do not have the title. Potential applicants should try to grasp these opportunities in their daily lives in order to hone their leadership skills."
Mak found his interview to be a nerve-wracking experience. "I was interviewed with nine other candidates and I lacked the experience of being interviewed," he says.
Successful candidates spend nine months at the Hong Kong Police College, set up in January 2006 to provide training in areas including investigations, driving, weapons tactics and information technology.
"When I entered the college, I felt that I had a lot to learn about how to be a policewoman because I was starting from zero.
"It was not easy, but I survived it with the co-operation and encouragement of my colleagues," says Leung, who works in an investigation team in Central.
Mak adds: "The nine months pass very quickly. When you are there, you undergo an important change to your mindset. You realise that you are no longer a student and that you are expected to shoulder some very heavy responsibilities upon graduation."
Today, as an inspector in Lantau, he supervises two patrol subunits.
Mak's job also includes operational projects and quite a lot of administrative work.
For him, the challenge of having to move fast and think on his feet is what keeps him engaged.
"My daily work involves having to deal with lots of people. There are all sorts of people from different races. They speak different languages and have different needs and requests," he says.
"Sometimes we have to deal with incidents outside and respond to the situation, and also to change. This is the exciting thing about being a policeman."
Mak has been interested in police work since he was a young boy.
A computer science graduate from City University, he discovered that he was not cut out for an IT job, or any other office job for that matter, after a one-year internship at a large IT company.
Leung says: "I do a lot of different things every day - some are operational, some administrative. I find it all very challenging."
Her post allows her to learn new things all the time. "We have to deal with a lot of different people. There are suspects, victims, informants, all sorts of people.
"Life as a police officer can be a little tough sometimes, but you learn a lot," she says.
Get as much information as possible from the Hong Kong Police Force website
Keep up with current affairs and happenings in Hong Kong by reading all the local newspapers
Brush up on your presentation skills
Hone your leadership skills - grab every chance you get to demonstrate leadership abilities
Set up study groups to prepare for your recruitment interview together