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How to Answer Oral Board Questions

July 10th, 2019 how to answer oral board questions

Sample Oral Board Questions

The oral board can be one of the toughest parts of the police officer exam. With the right preparation, though, there is no reason why you can’t ace this part of the exam! Here, we review how to answer some of the toughest questions!

There are several different types of questions you can expect on the oral board exam. Some are personal, others are situational:

  • Personal – “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  • Situational – “in these circumstances, how would you react?”

In the case of situational questions, you are presented with a set of facts about a possible situation you may face in the real world. You’re then asked to comment, usually how you would react, to that situation. How you react informs the interviewers of your knowledge, character, and ability to think under pressure.

Oral board interviews are used for several purposes. The primary purpose is to identify the most appropriate candidate for the position, who has a clear mission to perform to the best of their ability, and who are suitable for the demanding role that comes with being a law enforcement officer.

There is no “one right answer” to each question. However, you can prepare to deliver the best possible answer in advance.

Below, we’ve put together sample answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Explain why you have decided to become a police officer
  • Why have you chosen to work at this agency?

Many candidates simply do not answer the question as it should be addressed. Here, we’ve put together some excellent pointers to help you prepare your own answers. We’ve also included some tips on what to avoid.

Often when it comes to answering oral board questions, what you leave out is just as important as what you put in!

Tell us about yourself

Many people are asked this question and approach it from the wrong angle. Take this question as the ideal chance to deliver a positive first impression. It impresses the interviewer at the outset and serves as a great way to begin the oral board exam.

Personal interests, such as collecting stamps or what foods you like to eat, should be avoided. Instead, they want to hear what you’ve done in your career that prepares you – and has equipped you with skills – that may be of value going forward.

Prepare a statement in advance that includes the following details:

  • Short summary of your career
  • A brief summary of your strengths, skills, and accomplishments to date
  • Reasons why you’re suited to your chosen police department

In other words, “tell us about yourself” could be rephrased as, “tell us about your career in terms of skills, accomplishments and how these are relevant to your decision to become a police officer”.

Phrased that way, you may begin to answer the question as it should be answered.

When it comes to how to answer oral board questions – be positive!

If your answer becomes negative, that negativity is subconsciously associated with you. This is a natural reaction from every social situation, and it includes interviews. The more positive you are, the more that positivity is associated with you.

Explain why you’ve decided to become a police officer?

Knowing why a question is asked often helps you understand how to appropriately answer the question.

This question is asked for the following two reasons:

  • To establish how much you’ve thought about the role and what it involves.
  • To learn whether you can cope with the necessary responsibility.

Public service is no small thing. Becoming a police officer carries with it enormous personal and public risks, and you need to be prepared for that. It’s a highly responsible role, but also one that involves danger. That’s why, when you answer a question such as this, you need to convey to the interviewers that you are aware of this responsibility and it’s something you’re happy to shoulder.

In fact, it’s something you relish. Your personality and motivation are driven by the degree of responsibility you will hold, and how you can impart a positive impact on your local community. That’s the type of answer they want to hear.

They need to know that:

  • You’re serious about this role.
  • That you appreciate the long-term implications it has.

Talk about your personality, character and life experiences that have “forced” you to the conclusion that a career in law enforcement is not something you should be doing, but something you must be doing – that law enforcement chose you, not that you chose law enforcement.

By putting the career first, and how you’ve arrived at your informed decision, it lets the interviewers know you’re serious and that you understand the long-term implications of your decision. We spoke to a police officer based in Oregon who talked us through his answer on why he joined this career. Check out his answer for a good idea on what’s needed.

Why have you chosen to work at this agency?

Here, interviewers are searching to learn what background research you’ve done into your chosen agency. Candidates should be proactive in the weeks and months leading up to the oral board exam.

This means digging deep into the agency, how it works and what recent statistics have come out regarding crime and performance.

Candidates are also expected to know specific details about the city or region that the police department covers. Learn about trends in crime and what has been done in recent years to address these local concerns. Talk about why you’ve chosen that agency as opposed to another agency.

The more personalized your answer, the better.

Is there something about the department that piques your curiosity? Perhaps the department makes it that much easier to get into a more specialized unit. Here, you can talk about long-term ambitions and how your department can help facilitate that goal.

Perhaps there’s something about the city/department that meets a personal objective. For example, it would not be wrong to mention your desire to start a family and use the city as a basis for your long-term future career.

Whatever you do, you should not talk about factors outside of the police department.

For instance, don’t talk about salary, or nightlife, or the fact your favorite restaurants or musicians come to the city. It’s paramount that your answer keeps to the police department and focuses on the factors discussed above.

Final Thoughts

End the oral board exam by:

  • Standing up to shake hands
  • Good eye contact with a moderate handshake
  • Positive closing words
  • Thanking the team for their time

Leave the room with the confidence that you know you’ve performed well.

All going to plan, you should have just passed the oral board exam.

If you’re still unsure how to answer oral board questions, we’ve put together a comprehensive range of oral board questions/answers for registered members. There, you can practice the most commonly asked questions, as well as the trickiest – such as how you respond to moral dilemmas – to master this part of the police officer exam.

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