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Police Interview Question – “Have you ever done anything unethical?”!

October 14th, 2019 police interview question

Why is this Question Asked?

As part of your police test, you are expected to take the oral board exam. Here, we review one of the most commonly asked police interview questions – namely, have you ever done anything unethical in your life?

This is an important question.

As a law enforcement officer, you frequently encounter challenging moral situations. You must know how to deal with these situations in a manner that does not compromise your duties as a police officer.

When an interviewer asks you – have you done anything unethical? – what they are trying to establish is:

  • Whether you are mature enough to admit past mistakes.
  • Whether you are trying to cover something up, perhaps even lying.
  • Whether you have the capacity to confront and learn from mistakes.

As a law enforcement officer, it’s vital that you have a strong moral compass.

You need to know right from wrong but, more importantly, you must know when to admit when you have crossed the line in the past.

That’s why this question is asked.

Everybody is Guilty – and Interviewers Know This

The question is asked because everybody is guilty.

There is no morally perfect person in the world.

We have all committed offenses, most small but, for some people, some intermediate to large mistakes. Because there is only one correct answer to this oral board question – namely, that you admit to being unethical in the past. Interviewers ask this police interview question to establish whether you are an honest, mature person.

Candidates who lie and claim: “I have never done anything unethical in my life” are either deluded or outright lying to the interviewers.

There is nothing worse than a liar. Lying is the anteroom to distrust. If you can’t trust a police officer, who can you trust?

Police interview questions examine the moral integrity of candidates to weed out liars and those with a dishonest predisposition. It’s vital that you are honest, put aside any ego, and detail circumstances in your life where you acted unethically – however difficult and awkward this may seem.

Furthermore, you must express remorse – that these were exceptional circumstances and that your past unethical behavior was an aberration – meaning that your past behavior does not represent you today.

You must express your answer clearly and concisely to the interviewer. You won’t get much further through the police test if you are found lying at this early stage.

Sample Oral Board Answer

Police interviewer asks: “Have you ever done anything unethical in your life?

Your answer:

I’m not proud to admit this, but yes I have. I’m acutely aware that police officers are expected to be the moral exemplars of society.

The fact that I’ve done some unethical things in my past is, however, not representative of who I am today. If we’re honest, most of us have done something wrong, something we are perhaps not proud of.

To give an example, I once edited the grades of my exam results and pretended to have a qualification I did not have so that I could secure a job I really wanted. I knew this was wrong and I still regret it today.

Clearly, I was not mature enough at the time, as I put aside how wrong it was so that I could earn enough money to assist my family, who were experiencing significant financial hardship at the time. These circumstances had a knock-on effect on me, and I felt obliged to do something about it – and so I acted.

Of course, there is no excuse for deception, but at that time it felt like it was the only thing I could do. If I could turn back the block, I would do things differently – very differently.”

How to Interpret the Sample Answer

There are five take-home points from this sample answer:

  • The speaker identifies that his past behavior was not in-line with what is expected from the role (police officer) he has applied for.
  • The speaker establishes the difference between the moral character of his past, with his moral character of today.
  • The speaker reflects upon the fact that “most of us” have done something unethical in our past. He moves the question away from him, and toward society at large. The interviewers are, by definition, implicated too.
  • The speaker regrets his past actions and identifies a greater moral reason for acting in the way he did (helping family).
  • He concludes with a reiteration of his regret for his past actions.

This is what constitutes the perfect answer.

Of course, your answer depends upon your own life circumstances and what unethical behavior you engaged in. What matters is delivering those details in a way that distances your past from the present; highlights regret; and places your actions within a wider, more understandable context.

If you are already a member of Police Test Study Guide, log-in now to access your complete oral board database with all the questions and sample answers you need to ace this part of the police test.

If you are not yet a member, choose your police agency and register now!

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