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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  Entry Level  >  Strategies for Handling the Oral Interview
 
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Strategies for Handling the Oral Interview

There is no more intimidating part of the law enforcement hiring process than the oral interview.

While some agencies utilize a comfortable, informal chat session, others will place a panel of as many as ten police officers of all ranks in front of you each doing his or her best to rapid fire questions, challenge your responses, and create an uncomfortable environment to see how you perform. While there is no one single solution to conquering this giant, your best strategy is to be as prepared as possible.

 

First, before you start allowing panic to set in, consider what you are going to wear.

Actually, thereís not much to consider. Nothing less than a business suit is appropriate for both men and women. Weíre not going get into fashion, and you donít need a $2,000.00 Armani suit, but a decent, clean, pressed, well-tailored, and matching suit is a must. In fact, throughout the entire hiring process the members of the department youíre applying to should never see you in anything less than a suit. After all, youíre trying to become a member of a profession. Show them that you are professional.

With attire hopefully out of the way, your next objective is to practice with sample oral interview questions. There are probably hundreds you can get over the Internet and print out. This practice is not an exercise to do between other things. You need to set time aside, read the question, and attempt to answer it as if you were facing the panel of doom. After you become proficient doing this yourself, your next step will be to set up a simulated panel to throw the questions at you. Family members or friends are fine. Itís important that all involved take it seriously though. They should take turns asking questions from your list and challenge you on your answers. While this is not the real thing, you will find that even in front of family members or friends, there is a certain amount of nervousness.

 

Also, accept the fact that you may practice with a thousand different questions, and not hear one of them during the actual interview. Thatís okay. The practice questions will help you become skilled in handling questions. Theyíll also help you build an readily available arsenal of information from you r past to utilize in constructing answers.

Now, some strategies. First, be honest. The people asking you the questions are trained interviewers. If you try and squeeze through with lies you will be caught. Second, follow the law. This especially applies to scenario questions where they put you in a situation and ask how you would handle it. Consider the following:

ďMr. Smith, letís say youíre a member of our agency. One day you and another officer who is senior to you stop a motorist who is completely intoxicated. The other officer knows the motorist personally as he is a local businessman. The other officer instructs you not to arrest the motorist but to instead bring him home to his wife. What would you do in that situation?Ē

Often, the first instinct in answering a question like this is to not look like youíll rock the boat. You might suggest that you would go along with the senior officer. By doing so you would be covering up a crime. Thatís not exactly what agencies are looking for. However, no matter how you answer it, youíll probably be challenged. For instance, if you said that you would arrest the violator and report the other officer to the supervisor, one of the interviewers might tell you that the other officer is a good cop with a family and rebuke you for turning on a fellow officer. Thatís okay. You can defend that position because it is following the law which all officers are sworn to uphold. When handling scenario questions, choose the defendable answer. Also, donít be afraid to change your answer if they change the circumstances of the question.

Below are some other suggestions:

  • Make eye contact with all the members of the panel

  • Donít be afraid to smile during the introductions

  • Donít be afraid to ask them to repeat a question

  • Control your answers. Donít start rattling on for hours. Construct your answers with a beginning, a body and a closing

  • At the end of the interview you might be asked if there is anything else you would like to say. Use this opportunity to cover assets you werenít able to get to in the interview

Finally, arrive early. Nothing will make you more nervous than having to explain why youíre late for the biggest interview of your life. Good Luck!

 

 

 

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