Ten Questions to Prepare You For the Police Oral Board
For those considering a career in law enforcement, preparation is absolutely essential. The hiring process for police officers can be quite lengthy and it's not uncommon to have to wait a full year for a job offer from the time you first submit an application.
The hiring process will take you through many different stages, and one of these stages is the police interview, also called a police oral board. During the interview you will be asked a number of different questions by a small panel of police officers. These officers will gauge your responses, rate your composure, and generally watch to see how you conduct yourself throughout the interview.
If you're not familiar with some of the possible police interview questions then it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with what you may be asked, as many of these questions are designed to make you think on the spot so that the officers can evaluate your decision making processes while you are under pressure.
The following is a list of 10 questions that are all in common use at police departments throughout America, and I and my friends have all been personally asked all of these questions.
Tell me about yourself.
This is a very open ended question, and it can be easy to mess this one up and start rambling. Before you go into your interview be sure to come up with some important things that you want the officers to know about you so that you can be prepared to explain why you are the most qualified candidate for the position.
What is your greatest strength?
Be sure to tell them something that is relevant to police work. If you tell them that you are the life of the party and can get along with anyone then they won't take you seriously, but if you take that same trait and say that you are a very diplomatic person then the officers will be more inclined to give you a passing score.
What is your greatest weakness?
For this question you want to mention something that could also be perceived as a positive trait. If you are a workaholic and mention this during the interview then it may actually be perceived as a good thing, since no one wants to work with a lazy cop.
Suppose you came into work one day, and while preparing to go on patrol, you noticed that one of your fellow officers had been drinking. What would you do?
This question is designed to test your integrity. I don't know of any department in America that wants to hear the answer, "I would just ignore it." If you are asked this question then you are expected answer that you would promptly turn him in to your supervisor.
Suppose you and your partner conduct a traffic stop, and while searching the vehicle you notice your partner take $20 from the car and pocket it. What would you do?
Again, do NOT answer, "Nothing. He was probably taking it for evidence." There are strict rules and procedures for the collection of evidence, and putting something in your pocket is not one of them. If this ever happened then you should immediately report it to your supervisor.
Why do you want to be a police officer?
This is a very important question, and if you can't clearly explain why you want to be a cop then don't expect to pass the interview. The police officers who are interviewing you need to be sure that you are committed to becoming a cop. If they think that you only applied to the department because you need a job, and not because you have a sincere desire to be a police officer, then you will be shown the door.
Why do you want to work for this particular police department?
It's not enough to just want to be a cop, the officers will also want to know why you are interested in their specific department. If you are not familiar with the department before the interview then you should research their history, their mission statement, and other valuable information on the internet so that you can explain why you want to work with the police officers who are currently interviewing you.
What have you done to prepare for this position?
This question tests whether you really want to be a cop, or whether you're just looking for a job with a regular paycheck. If you haven't done anything to prepare then start by exercising, studying another language you may have to know as an officer, or even by familiarizing yourself with local laws and city ordinances. The last thing you want to do is fumble around for an answer - the police interviewers will see right through that.
What do you know about the local area/city/county?
You are likely to be asked this question if you have applied to a department outside your home city. Be sure to do some basic research on the local population, the city mayor, the local police chief, and other important information. Some departments (especially smaller ones), are wary of letting outsiders police their citizens.
Do you think that you could use deadly force if necessary?
Before going to the police interview, you should have an honest conversation with yourself. If you sincerely feel like you could not use deadly force then it would be better if you didn't even go to the interview. No police officer wants to use deadly force, but if the time ever came then your fellow officers need to know that they can count on you to back them up.
That's it! These are 10 of the most common police interview questions. You may not be asked all of these questions, but I am 99.99% certain that you will have to answer at least a few of these questions during your interview. If you don't yet have an interview scheduled and you're interested in the police hiring process, then check out this article on How to Be a Cop.