Nearly 7,500 people applied for just 100 officers' jobs at the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the force has said.
It said 66.7 per cent of the applicants were Protestants and 30.6 per cent were Catholics with 2.7 per cent “undetermined”.
Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie she was “delighted” that “so many people have shown they are prepared to step up to the challenge” of policing Northern Ireland.
She said they had now begun a journey through a “rigorous and challenging multi-stage recruitment process”.
Initially, 100 successful applicants will go to police college for training, she said, but added it was hoped they would be able to appoint another 378 student officers from the candidates, who came forward during a three-week recruitment campaign.
The figures were revealed as Chief Constable Matt Baggott warned his force would have to rely increasingly on support from police other parts of the UK if a looming budget crisis was not addressed. More than 1,000 “mutual aid” officers were drafted in over the summer to help deal with public disorder linked to the marching season.
Mr Baggott told the Northern Ireland Policing Board that the PSNI was facing a budget shortfall of £26m next year, the Belfast Telegraph reported.
“If we get to the point of reducing [officer] numbers, as I suspect we may if the budget continues the way it is, then I will have mutual aid camped here,” he said. “Now I don't want to do that, and neither do you - that's not good for Northern Ireland.”
He said the number of officers had fallen from 7,000 to 6,800 in the last year and could drop to 6,400 over the next few years unless more money was made available.