Presentation matters. Not physical looks per se, but how to dress and comport yourself in front of others.
Applicants taking the police interview exam must take every measure to ensure that they dress, present, and communicate properly – all consistent with the professional conduct you are expected to display in real-life policing situations.
Ultimately you are competing with hundreds if not thousands of applicants. Details matter, particularly when it comes to your personal character and judgment. You only have a small amount of time to convey the best possible impression. You must make that impression count.
Below, we have put together some top tips to help you along the way; some key strategies on how to present yourself for the oral board exam. Invest this time and effort and watch your performance – and score – grow on exam day.
Passing the police officer exam is one thing, passing the oral board exam and the rest of the hiring process is another.
Only the most professional applicants will make it through to the next round of the hiring process. You may have scored well on the written exam but you could easily fall short during the oral board exam. The purpose of the police exam is to establish your suitability to work in law enforcement.
But what do we mean by “acting professionally”? It refers to the following twelve competency factors:
You may have strong skills in some of these areas, but not in others. You should take the time to evaluate your competency in each of these areas. In those areas where you are weakest, take the time to research ways in which you can actively seek to improve these skills.
At least be self-aware of your weaknesses and strengths. That alone is half the battle.
Throughout the law enforcement interview exam, it’s imperative that you act professionally throughout the entire interview – from the moment you enter the room to greet the panel, to the second you interact with the panel and leave the interview room. When you receive a question, always answer the question with the above skills in mind. Avoid waffling, predictable, clichéd answers. Instead, focus specifically on you – and you alone, your skills and how these skills are transferrable when working as a police officer.
It’s possible that you have made mistakes in the past. Your personal history statement may raise some red flags. It’s important that you answer each question honestly. Own up to any mistakes you made, and how you actively learned from them.
More tips to consider:
Which leads us neatly onto our next point.
Always keep in mind the sheer number of applicants you are in constant competition with.
Take ten applicants. Eight turn up well-groomed, neat – dressed in a very presentable manner. The remaining two applicants turn up in jeans and a t-shirt. Whether we like to admit it or not, looks matter. How you present yourself to an interview panel matters even more.
Looking neat and precise is what the oral board panel is looking for. Not because it’s a fashion statement, but because it demonstrates to the panel that you care about the position and have invested the necessary time in ways that other candidates may not have done.
To dress appropriately for the exam, consider the following tips:
The oral board interview is, when you think about it, no different to any other major formal interview. For the exam, you are expected to dress appropriately and act professionally. The same standards are expected during the interview test and these factors should never be overlooked.
Not everyone is good at public speaking.
That said, there is a minimum standard expected during the police exam. You are not expected to become the next motivational speaker, but you must at least communicate:
It’s important that confidence does not spill over into arrogance. Remember, the panel are assessing your suitability to work within teams. Arrogance is a trait that causes division within teams. Stay confident – yes, but always have the self-awareness to know when this carries the risk of veering into arrogance and conceit.
Communication is a two-way street. It’s as much about listening as it is about speaking. There are two modes of listening – active and passive. Passive listening is where you disregard what is said to you, because you believe you know best. Your mind is made up before the speaker has even finished their sentence. Your response is almost pre-programmed. On the other hand, active listening is where you put yourself in the shoes of the person speaking, really trying to understand where they are coming from – even if you initially disagree with them. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say, but it does mean you can at least see where they are coming from. Communication skills is about active listening and communicating in a way that does not alienate others. You must demonstrate both skills in the interview exam.
Think about your body language, too.
Avoid gesturing too much. This can come across as abrupt, even immature. Don’t speak too quickly, either. It is better to take a few moments to pause before answering than to blurt out an answer in fast-forward mode. Speaking too fast is, similarly, a sign of a lack of confidence. Always speak to the oral board panel in an assured, composed, confident manner. Organize your thoughts and speak accordingly. If you don’t know something, admit to it. Assure the panel that you can self-improve over time. Avoid mumbling or speaking too low; as this, too, demonstrates a lack of confidence.
To maximize your score for the police interview exam, it’s important that you practice as many oral board questions as possible. The more questions you practice, the better prepared and fluent you will become on the day of your exam. We have already reviewed some common interview questions that always get asked. Take the time to review these questions, but make sure to answer the question first before reading the answer explanation.
Let’s quickly review the four factors that lead to success during the oral board exam:
Master each four of these domains and your chances of making it through to the next round of the hiring process have just gone up a few notches. It takes time to practice each, for sure, but it’s time well invested to help you make it through to your ideal career.
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