Become a Cop >> Browse Articles >> Exam & Career Preparation


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.

  • 299852108_b3a9ab7dd5_max50


    about 7 years ago


    fantastic article - thanks for making this info possible

  • At_the_office_max50


    about 7 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.

  • Pictures_017_max50


    about 7 years ago


    I am hoping that one day very soon I can try these out first hand.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 7 years ago


    Oh, this sounds very quaint, Chief, but the reality of it is that this approach is less effective than presented. I have gone to a city the day before an interview and actually interviewed citizens on the street and scoured city council meeting notes and other public records at the local library. This did not impress the interviewers. I spent a lot of time researching a city recently memorizing population stats, arrests, number of officers and their backgrounds only to find out DURING THE INTERVIEW that the web site had not been updated for five years. All my information that I was speaking on was incorrect....did not get that job. The reality of it is the job process is more political than most would like to admit. Research your department by scrutinizing their officers. I have know chief's that only hire guys that have past military or have shaved heads and stand over 6 feet tall. A sergeant I know said he interviewed for a job once and the cheif wanted to know if he liked to in bar fights...he stated that he was not a fan of fighting but could hold his own. This was the ONLY questiong the chief asked during the interview...if I remember correctly, he did not get the job!!!!!!!!!!!!! Try to look the part whether it is the true you or not. This seems to be the best approach. Shave your head if you need to, be overly serious if the department does not seem to have a personality.....become an actor!!!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 7 years ago


    a question.i would love to be part of the law .but without any degree's or experience can an individual just walk into his cities,police department and apply for a job as an officer or any thing that has to do with law enforcement.i know that every body isn't fortunate to go to college for a number of years is there any other way.

  • Img_0344_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Are you making a statement or asking a question? Or both? I am confused.

  • 05-05-08_014_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Thanks for the information, I'm applying to the local Sheriff's Office. I will certainly keeps these tips in mind when I go for my oral. Keep up the good work.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    about 7 years ago


    The interesting thing about this is none of it has anything to do with you being a good leo or not. I know people who could show up in jeans, a t-shirt and be 3 mins late to the interview and still be outstanding police officers. it's just a standard practice of molding a person into the individual they want you to be. If I were on the board none of those things would matter only that their character is honest. Too many good candidates are turned away because their shoe polish wasn't the appropriate shade of black, it's utter nonsense.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 7 years ago


    I was taught early in age to remember these ten rules for any type of job. They really come in handy.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    about 7 years ago


    In 1986, I was interview for the position of CO.. with Texas Dept of Corrections.. which it was called back than. I am a man of small stature... and at that time..I was lucky to be 135 lbs, soak and wet!! I was 25 yrs old, could pass as a 19 yr old.

    During the interview..I followed what Dr. Weinblatt suggested, I was asked.. all the questions related to the job description of a CO..the interviewer asked, one finally question..he asked me.
    If I was afarid of seeing blood pouring out of a man's body?
    My response was... " long it's not mine.." I put a little humor into the question. (What can I say I have a...... dark sense of humor!!) Within a few weeks..I was at the TDC academy.

    Good luck..

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 7 years ago

    Very good tips. A few things I would never think of. Thanks.

  • Badge_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Good points. Good to see points that are targeted towards LE.

  • 100b6120bnwcblur_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Thank you for the information, it will come in handy on my interview.

  • Pimp1_max50


    about 7 years ago


    Those are some well said tips. I will have to keep that in mind.

  • 129_max50


    about 7 years ago


    thanks for the info and tips, keep it up.

PoliceLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use PoliceLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.