“What Preparation Have You Done to Become a Police Officer?”November 12th, 2020
POLICE INTERVIEW QUESTION
“What have you done to prepare to become a police officer?”
How to Approach the Question
Without preparation, this can be a challenging oral board question.
You need to take the time to sit down and prepare a comprehensive answer – covering the essential details that highlight why you are the most optimum person to progress onto the police academy.
Ultimately, the answer you need to give must fact-based, relevant, and backed up by evidence:
- Formal education: criminal justice classes, law classes etc.
- Military experience, if applicable.
- Related work experience: working within community settings or leadership positions that require decisive action.
- Volunteer experience: including participation in ride-alongs.
- Relate any other experience or qualification relevant to law enforcement – even if indirectly related.
By incorporating these 5 criteria into your answer, it tells the oral board panel that you have done your work, you know what the career involves, and you are motivated to join the profession.
Never ever state that you have done no preparation whatsoever!
Here is a sample answer to this question:
“I have done considerable preparation over the past couple of years.
After completing high school, for example, I attended criminal justice classes to learn more about criminology and the basics of law. It was something I have always found interesting.
My brother was in the army and he relayed stories to me about his experiences. I have always been actively interested in these anecdotes – not just from him, but also from others. That convinced me to do a ride-along, which I completed 3-months ago. This was when I really started to become serious about training to become a police officer. It gave me a realistic experience of what police officers do on a day-to-day basis.
From there, I started to learn more about my police department – how it is structured and its history. I even purchased some books on law enforcement and criminology generally, and I avidly consume those on a regular basis.
Basically, from my family to my own personal experiences, this is something I have been working toward for a long time and something I have done much research on to ensure I was making the right decision.
The thing with law enforcement is that, the more I learn about it and become involved with it, the more interested I become. I think that’s a sign that I’m making the right choice – to make law enforcement something of a career that I enjoy, rather than a job I wake up to each day”.
Remember – this is one of the most important questions on the police officer exam. The bolded parts of the sample answer demonstrate the actions he has taken and how those actions have influenced his now informed decision to become a police officer.
Notice, in our sample answer, that we have drawn the strings together from many parts of the speaker’s life – from his family experience to his personal experience on the ride-along, to his proactive engagement to learn more about policing and law enforcement in his area; to the sense that it’s a career that chose him, rather than him choosing the career – such is his suitability to the position.
This is the kind of rich, detailed, and fact-based answer you need to give on the day of your police interview exam. If you do not yet have a comprehensive answer, you need to create one.
- Participating in a ride-along, or more than one ride-along.
- Taking the time to learn more about your police department – its history and how it has evolved. Take the time to learn more about its latest news and keep on top of this news.
- Taking a course – small or large, small budget or large budget, it is up to you. But make sure that you have demonstrated something to show the oral board panel you are proactively wanting to learn more about the role of a police officer. You need to convince them that it is something you belong in, rather than something you merely hope to join.
Once you have packed your experiences and knowledge together, write down a long-form answer, and practice it. Exclude irrelevant details and never say that you became motivated to join law enforcement from movies you enjoyed. Movies do not accurately portray law enforcement, meaning that if you are motivated by movies, you are telling the oral board panel that you haven’t thought through your decision.
Make sure that you add all relevant experience and knowledge. Review our sample answer above once more to give you some idea of how to frame the response – with an introduction, a middle, and an end.
By doing this, you demonstrate to the oral board panel that you are serious about becoming a police officer – that you know everything about the career, and it is something you are passionate about joining.
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