I often get asked what part of the hiring process is the hardest – the polygraph test, police oral board or the police written exam. My response will always be the job interview phase of the process. Because for me the oral board was the most intense out of everything else. The police training academy is right up there.
I understand – it is one of the scariest aspects of the application process. However, it doesn’t have to be. In this post, I will explain the basics of passing the oral board, as well as a couple hints from my experiences, to hopefully calm your nerves.
Research Before Your Oral Interview
The most important hint I can give should be common sense – know your stuff. Be prepared, and research the basic areas that you will be asked about. For example, you should have a clear understanding of the agency that you’re applying to.
If they ask you questions about the agency, and you struggle to answer it, it’s going to look like you don’t really care about the job. A lot of the information you’d need can be found by Googling the police agency.
For instance, if I’m applying to become a police officer for the Milwaukee Police Department, I would research their website religiously. I’d learn everything about their chain of command, mission statement and district structure. Those information are crucial, and it will give you a set up on the competition.
Honestly, that’s a huge tip I just mentioned there, because prospective candidates are way too lazy to take the time out to visit the PD’s website so they can learn about the dynamics of the agency before sitting for the interview. If they do visit the agency’s site, it’s probably to look at the pay structure, and other irrelevant information.
You should also know the community or district you may end up working in. Again, most of this information can be found pretty easily thanks to the internet.
I always suggest that people focus their research on areas that they’ll likely be assigned to if they get hired. Police candidates should look up general crime statistics for that city/town. These stats can be found easily on Wikipedia, or on the the FBI Annual Crime Report.
The one thing I see lots of people forget is to know themselves. You should go in with an intentional message that you want to share. Have a clear explanation about why you are passionate about becoming a police officer. Explain your best attributes. Sell the board on why you’re a great choice for their police department, and if you can swing it download a police specific interview guide.
Dress for Success
As you are selling yourself, you should also look at the “packaging”. When you are preparing, remember to think about the following items. These are things that will make you look more professional, competent, and mature, all attributes that law enforcement agencies are looking for.
- Dress professionally. Specifically, wear a suit and dress shoes.
- Groom – be neat and tidy. If the agency has specific grooming regulations, it would be smart to follow them when preparing for the interview.
- Arrive on time.
- Bring a copy of your application.
Following these steps will create a good first impression with those on the review board.
Question You’ll Likely Be Asked
Beyond your first impressions, you should also be prepared for the interview questions that will be asked. Police agencies have specific questions to their force.
However, they usually revolve around the same themes. They want to know how well you are suited for their agency. As such, you’ll often see them ask questions on the following topics:
- Your view of the agency
6 Types of Police Job Interview Questions to Expect
These are some of the areas that I have seen agencies focus on. Usually, these topics will be asked through two types of questions. Interrogatory questions are direct and fairly standard. You will get asked questions like:
- Why do you want to be a police officer?
- What are your major strengths and weaknesses?
- What challenges have you overcome? How did you overcome them?
- Tell us about yourself?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What have you done to prepare yourself for a career in law enforcement?
These questions are easier to prepare for because they are more common and general; any agency can ask them and expect a specific answer that helps them judge your abilities to help their department.
Most Commonly Asked Police Interview Questions
You will also get asked scenario questions. These are questions where you are given a situation, and you need to describe your thoughts and response in that situation. These are more specific to each department and region, but there are some general questions that are asked such as:
- What would you do if you saw your pastor run a red light?
- What would you do if you saw a fellow officer not pay for their meal?
- What would you do if you were called to a fight and found it involved your best friend?
- What would you do if during a call, a racial slur was directed at you?
During these questions, the officers on the oral board are looking to ensure that your answers match the answers you gave during the interrogatory questions.
The key to these is to answer according to the agency’s protocol. This shows the board that you have integrity and will follow the rules.
At the end of your police job interview, you’ll probably get a chance to ask questions. Make sure to have questions ready. Asking questions shows that you are interested and involved in the process. Also, make sure they aren’t lame questions like “How much will I get paid at the start?”
You may get some questions based on your legal training. This usually happens if you have gone through police academy already, but even if you haven’t, you should be prepared. These questions will be fairly basic.
You may also get a chance make a closing statement. Emphasize the good things you will bring – remember that you are selling yourself. As you leave, shake hands confidently with the members of the board.
You may want to write down the questions that were asked, as well as your answers, after you leave. This will help you prepare if you have other interviews with agencies, or a final interview within the same agency.
Common Police Oral Board Mistakes
Regardless of how well you prepare, there are some mistakes that will be remembered. These are common mistakes that will overpower the good parts of your interview and leave a bad impression on the panel.
- Arrogance or Aggressiveness
- Poor grammar and vocabulary
- Failing to thank the Board for their time
- Fidgeting, Nervousness, or Lack of Eye Contact
- Insulting former employers or other agencies
- Not having career goals
- Not asking questions
- Sloppy Appearance
- Acting indifferent or lacking enthusiasm
If you would like more details or specific questions in order to prepare for the police oral board interview, I’d suggest reading the Police Oral Board Interview Secrets e-book for in-depth interview questions and answers.
From my personal experience, the best thing that you can have when you enter an interview is confidence. However, the only way you’ll be confident is if you have prepared yourself properly. By working through these areas, and looking over best answers to police job interview questions, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
#1 Question You Must Answer Right
The question below per my research is the most important interview questions you must answer correctly. Additionally, this question is the most likely question that you’ll hear from the panel regardless of what agency you are applying to.