Answering Common Oral Hiring Board Questions
Dr. Richard Weinblatt
5) Tell me about a weakness you have. What you need to do here is truthfully relate a weakness that in law enforcement circles is perceived actually as a virtue. For example, “I am a workaholic” or “I am sometimes too mission focused. I won’t give up until the job is done.” These might be problems if you were “interviewing” on a first date, but in the police world it is a nice fit.
We look for people whose weaknesses as perceived by the general population work in the challenging setting of policing in a democratic society. Someone that won’t stop until the mission is accomplished is thought of as being obsessive in the general population, but is heralded as a survivor and winner in the police field.
6) Legal elements. If you have graduated already from a basic law enforcement academy, you may be hit with this item, as well as number seven below. You may be asked to list the elements of commonly encountered criminal law statutes. Be familiar with the elements or components that comprise burglary, robbery, and other crimes that officers contend with.
7) Legal concepts. Be able to explain legal concepts. Be sure that you understand them and are not just regurgitating a definition from a textbook or statute book. For example, can you define the difference between reasonable suspicion and probable cause, as well as misdemeanor and felony.
8) Policing concepts. Be familiar with the policing concepts that drive your target agency. A read of their website (which hopefully is up to date) and materials in the lobby should clue you as to their approach. Are they community policing oriented? If so, they may ask you what community policing means to you. Understand their website’s interpretation, but personalize it in terms of what it means to you. Figure out if the agency is proactive or reactive in their approach to calls for police service.
An area that comes up in some oral boards concerns the use of deadly force. Be familiar with not only your area’s statutory requirements for the use of deadly force, but also think through the ethical and moral implications for yourself. By reflecting on this tragic but oftentimes present aspect of your chosen profession, you’ll be a more mature candidate for the post.
There are many more questions or statements that oral panels put out for applicants to respond to, including ethical situations. This column addressed some of the more common ones that you might encounter.
I have seen firsthand how practicing your responses to these oral panel situations have lead to dramatic improvement. While I don’t advocate a memorized approach, being familiar in general with how to respond will free you to have a compelling delivery that will captivate the panel members. It is at that point, that they will have a feel for your character and the sort of law enforcer that you can be for their agency. A good oral panel interview will help you to get that opportunity.
Other Resources From The Oral Board Mega-Guide:
- 10 Tips for Mastering the Police Oral Board
- Police Oral Board Interview – From Stress To Success
- The Police Oral Board Secret Weapon
- So You Wanna Be A Cop?