Oral Board Exam
Police Test Study Guide
Police Interview Tips to Pass the Oral Board
Passing the oral board exam doesn’t need to be difficult. You just need to be strategic, implementing the top police interview tips. You must know what to expect on the day of your exam and, from there, create a study plan that covers everything you need to know.
The oral board exam is one of the most challenging parts of the police officer exam.
Of course, it’s not just your answers that matter. Your body language, demeanor, and how you cope under pressure matter just as much. Taken in total, this is what will decide whether you pass or fail. You need to inspire confidence in the oral board panel that you have what it takes to become an effective law enforcement officer.
You need to know your stuff. You need to come across as mature and professional. And you need to know how to tailor answers under pressure. That takes time, and effort.
Long-term preparation, then, is essential. The more police interview questions you practice, the better. Your answers to oral board questions must be well-thought through, that your actions as a police officer are proportionate, and that you can accurately strike the balance in your determination of when to use force.
This can be a difficult balancing act to deliver during the exam. But nobody on the panel is expecting perfection. You will likely make mistakes. What matters is that you make fewer mistakes than everyone else.
Police Interview Tips – The Top 10
- 1. Always be honest. Oral board panels have seen it all. Don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. It won’t work, and it only serves to compromise your chances of making it through to the next round. If you’re caught out on a lie, it’s game over. In the end, law enforcement is about trust in the rule of law. If you appear not to respect truth, why should they approve your candidacy? Would you do the same to a candidate if you were in their position?
- 2. Always admit personal faults. Nobody is perfect. The oral board panel know this. Don’t be afraid to admit personal faults, either now or in the past. What matters is that you can be trusted going forward.
- 3. Be proportionate. The more radical and disproportionate your answers, the more it conveys to the oral board panel that you cannot be trusted on your own. You may come across as unpredictable and irrational. You may act in a rash or conflict-driven manner and that’s far too much of a risk for any police department. Furthermore, don’t argue with the panel. It comes across as juvenile and immature. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut is the best option!
- 4. Monitor body language. As soon as you enter the exam, your body language is monitored by the oral board panel. If your body language is out-of-sync with how you are answering questions, that inconsistency will raise alarm bells. Be conscious about your facial and body expressions and adjust accordingly. Always convey a professional demeanor throughout the exam – from first impressions, through exam answers, through to leaving the exam.
- 5. Do your research. There’s nothing worse than an ill-prepared test candidate. If you are not willing to invest the time conducting research into the department, why should the department spend time on you? The more you learn about the department, role, and profession, the more it conveys to the oral board panel that you are serious about the position, that you really want it.
- 6. Take the opportunity to learn more. At the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Take this opportunity to ask questions about the department, or perhaps into something that triggered your curiosity during the oral board exam itself. Maybe the panel said something that you found interesting, and you’d like to learn more about why they said what they said. But be proactive, ask questions. Mean what you ask, and don’t ask a question for the sake of it. That enthusiasm, if you mean it, will come across well.
- 7. Avoid negativity. For example, if you are going to be negative about a past employer, why would you be any different with the police department? Limit talking negatively about others during the exam. It gives a bad impression. If anything, it just makes you look bad, resentful, and immature. Rise about whatever happened in the past. Speak only of the positives of your past employer experiences.
- 8. Stay calm under pressure. During the exam, you may be asked police interview questions in a “dynamic-style” – meaning a question is asked one after another, often in an interrupted-style, on a specific case scenario. This can be a pressure cooker scenario. It’s essential you remain calm, stay reasoned, and keep composure. That’s what they want to see. When they change the scenario, take a few seconds to focus and answer in a proportionate and professional manner.
- 9. Add facts, figures, and personal experience. One of the top police interview tips is to pepper answers with the latest crime stats, or figures relating to the department or problem in question. It adds immense value to each police exam answer. It shows you are serious. Where possible, crowbar in some extra – but relevant – details, such as some personal experience you had, such as your experience with a recent ride-in with the police department. Add beef and substance to your answers. Show the panel you have done more than just basic research. If you can incorporate this added layer of detail into your answers, you will shine through as a prime candidate.
- 10. Know how to handle conflict-of-interest situations. You will be asked conflict-of-interest questions – of that there is no doubt. Knowing this, take the time to know – in advance – how you would react if a parent or sibling were involved in a crime situation that you found yourself involved. These are some of the most important police interview questions on the exam. Never behave favorably toward family or friends. Always defer to the law – and stay consistent, no matter who is involved. In some cases, officer discretion is accepted, but you must know when this legitimately applies and when it does not.
Take Home Message
The police officer exam is difficult, and the oral board exam doesn’t make it much easier.
But there are strategic steps you can take to improve the possibility of performing well during the oral board exam. You must put the tips we’ve discussed into practice, if they are to mean anything at all.
What you need to do is clear:
- Prepare for the type and style of question asked during the exam – including dynamic questions.
- Do your research and write sample answers to each question.
- Know how to monitor your body language and professional demeanor.
- Be aware of the need to stay calm under intense pressure / questioning.
- Never overreact, argue with the panel, or advocate disproportionate use of force in a question.
- Learn more about the police department you wish to join, as well as recent crime data / statistics.
It takes time, but by investing in these six steps, you will perform far better during the police interview exam compared to other candidates. Given there are a limited number of candidates that make it through to police academy, the smallest details matter.
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