If you’ve spent your life dreaming of a career in law enforcement, you’re probably stressing about the police oral board interview. Out of all of the hoops to jump through when you apply to become a police officer, sitting for the oral boards can be one of the most stressful things to do. It can also be make or break.
You usually can’t even get to an oral interview unless you’re already pretty far along in the application process. Hiring managers and committees don’t have time to waste, so if you’ve made it to the police oral board interview, there must be something about your application that has the hiring committee intrigued. It’s important to ace the interview so that you can land that career in law enforcement.
Do Your Research
The good news is that you’re not the first person to ever sit for a police oral board interview. Others who have gone before you have spilled the beans on what to expect. If you do your research ahead of time, you can learn the common questions and the best answers.
Learn About the Agency
In addition to common questions and answers, hiring committees want to know why you want to work for their department, specifically. Learn all that you can about the department that you’re going to interview with. See if you can find and learn their mission statement. Learn about the areas that they cover and learn about their different divisions. The department’s website is a great place to start. If you can show the hiring committing that you’ve learned about the department and the details of the police organization, you’ll likely have a leg up over other competitors.
You can also learn about crime statistics in the location where you want to work. You can find and study the most pressing crime issues in the location. Depending on the location, your department might struggle with drug or gang activity. It might be a unit that focuses on highway patrol and related trafficking. If the location is tourist dependent, the work might focus on theft and alcohol-related offenses. While you can demonstrate interest in the department, showing knowledge of the local challenges for law enforcement can show that you’re willing to take initiative.
Think About Who You Are and How You Want To Come Across
Spend some time thinking about what you want the hiring committing to get from your interview. That means thinking through the answers to the questions: Why should we hire you? and What sets you apart from other candidates? Think about your best qualities. If you’re willing to go the extra mile or you’re always prepared, think of anecdotes that demonstrate these qualities.
It also helps to look the part. Departments want to hire people who can look and act professionally. This is your first chance to show the hiring committing that this is you. Wear a dark, two-piece suit. Wear dark, closed-toed, polished shoes. Keep your hair neat and avoid facial hair. Don’t even think about wearing white socks. Wear black socks or socks that match your suit.
If you’re male, wear a tie. Your tie should be conservative. Solid colors work well, and when it doubt, wear a black or white tie. A white shirt under your dark suit is a good option. Women have more leeway when it comes to shirt colors, but you can’t miss by going with a dark color. Hair should be a natural color. Avoid flashy jewelry and nail polish. Cover all of your tattoos.
Remember, when you’re at your police oral board interview, the hiring committee will be asking if the person is ready and able to fulfill the role of a police officer. For that reason, it’s important to look and act the part at all times. The people making the decisions are trying to see if you fit the entire package. Make sure that you arrive on time. In fact, be early. Even try driving the route before the big day.
There are a few questions for you to be prepared for. Expect them to ask why you want to be a police officer. They will likely ask you about your strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the position. Be prepared to answer a question about challenges that you have overcome in your life.
You might have to answer personal questions, like what you like to do in your spare time. They might ask you about your criminal history and if you have ever used drugs. Things that you have done to prepare to work in the fields of police and law enforcement work are also of particular interest to the police oral board interview committee.
What Would You Do If…
Some questions are designed to put you on the spot. They ask you what you would do in this situation or that situation. An example might be what you would do if you saw the mayor run a red light. They could ask you what you might decide to do if you saw another officer steal money out of evidence. Another question might be what you would do if a person tried to hit you when they did not want to be arrested. Interviewers want to make sure that you are willing and able to behave appropriately and follow department rules.
Always Ask Questions
At the end of the interview, the committee probably gives you the option to ask any questions that you have. Always think of some questions ahead of time so that you have some to ask. Asking questions is a good way to show that you are serious and intrigued about the position. Don’t ask about pay just yet. Ask things like what common challenges are for the department. Ask what they are looking for in a candidate. You can also ask them what new hires find the most challenging in the first few weeks on the job.
At the end of the interview, make sure that you thank your interviewers for their time. Be honest and assertive during the interview, but don’t be too forward or presumptuous. Get a good night sleep the night before and avoid smelling like smoke. Don’t make any sudden changes to your eating or exercise routines. If the committee asks why they should hire you, tell them you’re a hard worker with good communication skills. Tell them that you’re trained and motivated to service the public well. Finally, tell them it would be an honor to serve the public, that you learn quickly and that you’re willing to take instruction.