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The Big Three of the Law Enforcement Hiring Process: Physical Test, Written Exam, Oral Board Interview

By Edited Apr 1, 2014 1 0
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The Physical

After applying to be an LEO (Law Enforcement Officer), the first step of the hiring process is almost always going to be the PT. Law Enforcement Agencies want to make sure that you have what it takes to be an LEO and this is where they see who has the ability to push themselves physically. The test is pretty easy as long as you are moderately physically fit. Keep in mind that every agency is different and the exact numbers that you’ll have to complete, as well as the exercises themselves, may vary from state to state and sometimes from agency to agency within the same state. The order in which the department administers the different parts of the tests may vary as well.

The main three things that you will find in every LEO physical fitness test are pushups, sit-ups and a 1.5 mile run. Most generally you’ll have to complete around 30 pushups and 30 sit-ups, and the 1.5 mile run will have to be completed in less than 15 minutes. The pushups generally do not have a time limit, but you must complete them without stopping or touching the ground with any part of your body other than your hands and feet. You will probably have a partner that will place their balled up fist under your chest, and you must touch your chest to their fist every time or the pushup doesn’t count.

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You will also do this for your partner, and you are both on your honor. Integrity is something that you absolutely must have if you want to be an LEO, and this is where the testing officers watch you to see if you are lying or not in regard to the number of completed reps for each exercise. The same goes for the sit-ups part of the PT. You will hold your partners legs/feet until they are done with the sit-ups and they will do the same for you. You have to count the number of reps that they complete and give them the number afterward.

To complete a proper sit-up, you must place your fingertips behind your ears or intertwine your fingers behind your head and you’ve have to touch both elbows to your knees or go past the plane of your knees. Some agencies will allow you to cross your arms across your chest, but the more proper way is that one described above.

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If you make it through the sit-ups and pushups, then you’ll move on to the 1.5 mile run. Some departments use a regulation track, some may use a woodland trail, some will have you run around a large parking lot, and yet others may have you run along a canal, but it’s not so much where you run that matters unless you are not used to running on pavement.

 It’s the elevation that’ll get you. If you are applying to an agency out of your state, make sure you find out the elevation of that place. If you are in the plains for instance, you will have a very hard time completing a 1.5 mile run in northern Arizona or Colorado! At a PT that I did in Prescott, AZ, a.k.a. “The Mile High City”, there was a very strong looking man that I thought would be at the front of the pack of runners. He did about the same as me on the sit-ups and pushups, but then was the last to finish the run and actually walked some of it because he wasn’t used to the elevation there. He was from Florida. He did make it though, with about 20 seconds to spare.

 

1.5 Mile Run(162238)
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Other exercises that may be a part of the PT are the 300 meter run, a wall-climb/sprint, a sit and reach, a one rep maximum bench press, a 75 yard pursuit run, and a vertical jump. Of course there may still be other possibilities, and the best thing to keep in mind is that you’ve got to prepare. Don’t expect to pass the PT if you don’t get off the couch to mentally and physically prepare yourself for it. I’ve seen a ton of people fail because they didn’t have the ambition to do these exercises at least 3-4 days a week, a few weeks in advance. To be truthful, you won’t make it as an LEO if you don’t have a moderately active lifestyle. LEO’s have to be ready to chase or fight in the blink of an eye and laziness will absolutely not help with that.

The 300 meter run will most likely have a time limit of 60 seconds or less. The wall-climb/sprint consists of a ten-foot space, a six-foot wall, and then another seventy feet. The time limit here is 10 seconds, so you’ve got to move as fast as possible and this will be quite difficult if you haven’t practiced going over a few fences and walls beforehand. For the sit and reach you’ll sit on the ground with shoes off and place the bottoms of your feet against a wooden block. This wooden block will have a yard stick on top of it and the measurement will begin on the side where your feet are touching it and at 15 inches. So for instance, if the minimum reach for a male between the ages of 20-29 is 16.5 inches, then he would have to be able to reach his hands 1.5 inches past his feet. The higher the number in inches, the more flexible you are and the better your final score looks.

The bench press is pretty much self explanatory. The 75 yard pursuit run will involve you sprinting 75 yards over curb height obstacles and having to make sharp turns – no problem. The vertical jump minimum is usually around 16 inches.

Remember, some of these things may not be in that order, or there could be additional exercises that are not in this article. I encourage you to dig deeper if you have more questions so that you can be fully prepared upon entering the testing facility.

The Written

The written test will most likely be the next step in the process, although some departments do switch it up. This test is not very difficult if you have your head in the right place before heading in. There are a variety of different tests that departments use and you will probably not know what type it’s going to be before you go in. It could be a regular written multiple-choice test on basic high school level knowledge, it could be basic knowledge geared toward the LEO’s daily life, or it might be a situational video Q&A test. You may have to watch a short video, and afterward write a report with as many of the details and facts from that video that you can remember.

When it comes to the written, just make sure that when you go in you know that you’ll have to think to pass. It’s not a cake walk for a lot of people and many people fail this part of the test. In most cases the minimum required score will be a 70%, but as with everything else you will look much better to the hiring panel if you get a higher score. Aim for at least the 90th percentile if not the sweet 100%. This part isn’t something to worry about, just do your best and don’t over think it.   

They are looking for things like listening skills, written communication skills, proper spelling and grammar, the ability to document information in a clear and concise manner and overall neatness.Keep these things in mind at the written exam.

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The Oral Board Interview

Before I continue you should know that I will not be posting specific questions and answers from my past oral board interviews because I would much rather help to support the integrity of the interview process. It would be dishonorable to tell you everything that is going to happen because the point of the interview is to get your individual responses to the questions that they ask, not to "copy & paste" so to speak. With that said, I hope that my advice will help you in your career seeking endeavors.

To be candid here, the most important thing in the oral board interview is to be yourself. Now I know that this probably sounds like some neutral garbage that you've heard a thousand times, but I cannot stress this point enough. I have actually failed two oral board interviews because I went in reciting answers that I'd read online, hoping to give the hiring panel what I thought that they wanted to hear. That was very stupid of me because it was a waste of everyone's time and it only made me feel bad about myself. You can find a general idea of the types of questions asked by simply searching for it online, and thereby prepare a comprehensive list of things that you want them to know, or rather, just have in your head the information that you want the interviewers to know about you and be ready to formulate your responses to their questions based on the wording that they use and the information that you wish to proffer to them.

For instance, if the interviewers ask you about your qualifications for the position you'll want to relay your qualifications in such a way as to effectively answer all points of the question. Here are two examples:

1) Tell us about yourself, and why you think that you would be a good fit for this department.

If the question is worded as above, then it would be best to give an all-encompassing answer that swiftly hits on all points of the list in your head. Don't give them a 5-minute long response if it is just technical qualifications. Let them know about any related work experience, if you have any certifications or college credits/degrees, quickly touch on any volunteer work that you've done and anything else that you think is pertinent here, and end with one or two real life experiences that you've had that led you to this interview and to the decision that you want to be an LEO. It will also help to relate yourself to that specific department in some way to let them know that you have a genuine interest in the department and aren't just looking for any place that will take you. If you are looking for to be hired by pretty much any department that will hire you (like the majority of applicants), then you'll need to do a lot of research to be able to relate to each department that you apply to.

2) Give us a couple of reasons that qualify you for this position.

This is a more direct approach on the behalf of the interviewing panel and it will require a slightly different answer. Remember, most departments have a large number of applicants and are doing mass amounts of interviews like this (hundreds or even thousands depending on the size of the department!) and so they must tighten things up a bit and don't really have time for long drawn-out responses. If you get more succinct and to the point questions, respond in kind. With this question you'll want to more quickly touch on the technical qualifications that you have. That doesn't mean that you should leave out the personal stuff all together, because it is the personal stuff that is most likely to make you stick in the panel's minds, but you should just make sure that you aren't over doing your answers. You don't want to seem like you are just trying to force information down their throats.

This really isn't much different that any other interview. The fact that the panel may be in uniform can be kind of daunting, but don't let it scare you. Keep in mind that things will most likely be moving pretty fast, and the interviewers probably have a full schedule of interviewing that entire week, every day and all day long. Keep to the point while trying to put your best foot forward. You want to show them who you are without forcing it on them.

Also something that helped me was to practice with family, friends or even to myself in the mirror. Having someone close to you ask you some general questions can help a lot if you aren't used to being interviewed, and talking to yourself in the mirror in the same way can help to boost your confidence. In the mirror you'll be able to see what the interviewers see and you can practice modeling your body language so that you show confidence (but not arrogance!) in yourself and your ability.

Another thing to remember is that you need to wear business attire during every step of the hiring process (except the physical fitness test of course!). Your clothes will speak volumes to the LEO's that you come into contact with, and can actually either make you or break you in the hiring process.

Again, I hope that this has helped and I wish you blessing in your endeavors! Feel free to comment or ask questions below!

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