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10 Tips for Mastering the Police Oral Board

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Oral boards are the key to getting hired. As a police academy manager and former police chief, I have seen countless applicants bomb their oral hiring board when they were otherwise good candidates. Like many other things in life, proper preparation can make the difference. This article will suggest ten tips to increase your chances for success.

1) Do your research. Study up on your target agency. In this age of the Internet, there is no excuse for walking into an agency without an intimate knowledge of its statistics and key personnel. Some items to glean off of the department and larger governmental entity (city, county, or state – not to mention airport, college, harbor, school district or other setting) websites are: population policed, agency chief executive (usually the elected sheriff or chief), divisions, number of law enforcers, square miles of the jurisdiction, policing philosophy, and mission statement.

2) Be early. As the old saying goes: “early is on time and on time is late.” I had the time that the person arrived for their oral board noted and relayed to me. My thought, along with many other chiefs, was that if the person can’t make it on time (better yet early) for their interview when they should be on their best behavior, they certainly won’t have good time management skills down the road when they are hired and off of their probationary status.

3) Check your appearance. Be sure that you are perceived as a professional. It should go without saying that all nose rings, tongue piercings, and earrings should be removed prior to coming into the area of the interview building. A dark suit with conservative tie and shirt is appropriate with men with similarly suitable business attire for women. Clothes should be cleaned and pressed. Oral board attendees should have their hygiene handled correctly. Special attention should be paid to nails and shoes.

4) Use proper titles. Make sure that you use the right titles when speaking at the oral board. Don’t call a law enforcer an “officer” in a sheriff’s office and vice versa (in that case, it should be “deputy sheriff”). Know the rank insignia for your target agency and the corresponding titles that go with them.

5) Know your elements. Some oral panels, particularly those that interview people who have already graduated from a basic law enforcement academy, quiz the applicant on elements of common crimes. Know your state’s criminal statutes and how they apply to situations. For example, you may be asked to define burglary or be presented with a situation, which comprise the legal components of burglary.

6) Make eye contact. Whether each member of the panel asks questions or only a facilitator speaks for the group, be sure to make eye contact with each person in the room. In the law enforcement world, the eye contact conveys confidence and respect.

7) Sound confident. Minimize the appearance of nervousness or a lack of confidence by practicing to avoid stuttering. Watch your self in a mirror. Better yet, hold your own mock oral panel and videotape yourself. When you watch the tape later, you will catch both good and bad things that you did realize you were doing. Remember, we are our own harshest critics.

8) Avoid creating distractions. Distractions can come in the form of verbal cues (such as “um”, “ok”, and “see what I mean”) or they can be physical (such as tapping a ring on the metal part of the chair). When distractions crop up, they make you appear nervous and detract from the message that you are trying to impart.

9) Plant your feet. Interview panel organizers frequently place the applicant in a swivel chair that also has the ability to recline. When you sit down, be sure to plant your feet and resist the inclination to swivel or rock in the chair. Most panel members perceive movement in the chair as indicators of nervousness.

10) Shake hands. When an appropriate moment comes up, usually before exiting the interview room, stand up and walk over to each member of the panel. Address each by their rank or title and thank them individually for their time while shaking their hand.

These ten tips address some of the more blatant ones problems I have observed while running oral panels. As an applicant, you are granted around twenty minutes to give the panel members a glimpse of who you as a person and they type of law enforcer you would be if employed by the hiring agency.

Your first impression (commonly thought of as the first 15 seconds) as viewed by the panel members is crucial to the success of your oral board experience. Incorporate these ten tips as you thoroughly prepare for a pivotal, albeit brief, piece of the professional law enforcement officer application process.

  • Revan_max50


    over 6 years ago


    I really appreciate the advice. I know it will come in handy.

  • Tumblr_lpagx176uq1qls45bo1_r1_500_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Thank you for the tips sir.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 6 years ago


    very good article

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago

    Extremely helpful information. Especially about knowing your Agencies mission statement and structure and about conducting a mock oral board to see your weaknesses. Also, I am curious about the answer that cooljibbinx asked about smiling?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago

    I've got to ask is it better to smile or be more serious in one of these interviews? In my opinion, if you smile it shows you have more confidence or your glad to be there.

  • Peter_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Thanks for the information. This was very helpful.

  • Facepic_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Also, make answers BRIEF and immediately to the point.

  • Me_max50


    over 6 years ago


    i think what got me through the orals was just not to be nervous....act like you deserve to be there..these people can tell if you are nervous, or if you are just acting like yourself..

  • Badge2_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Thank you for the great information - A++

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago

    Thank you for the great information - A++

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago


    This article is great, thanks for sharing the information. The first time I got a job at a sheriffs office there were no panel interviews. I was hired on and worked in the comm. center for two years. I moved and tried to get a job in this area as a 911 dispatcher, made it as far as the panel interview and was not chose to be hired. Had I read this article before that day I feel I would have been far more ready.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago


    In many cases, you are being interviewed by the same standards the interviews had to meet when they entered law enforcement.
    I have made copies of my resume and taken them to the interview. Make at least 5 copies to be sure all have them. Most of the time there are usually 3 -4 interviewers. This gives them something to look at and some will ask questions about what is on your resume. That puts the ball back in your court.
    Also, take copies of any documents you may need. Transcripts, Birth Certificates, etc. Asking the panel, or an assistant to make copies is a sure way of being rejected by some agencies.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago


    I have an interview next week, and though I feel that I will do great, this article has made the information bold, and fresh in my head. I appreciate all of the information from the article and from the comments, I feel more educated.

  • 299852108_b3a9ab7dd5_max50


    over 6 years ago


    fantastic article - thanks for making this info possible

  • At_the_office_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Thanks for this important info. Of course, the demeanor of the department one is appliying to really dictates how we should act during the interview. It is important to get a feel for what the chief and officers or sheriff and deputies reflect in their work performance. This includes ethics, conservative policing versus zero tolerance policing and the like.

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