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The Police Oral Board Secret Weapon

Sergeant George Godoy

It is a good idea to practice your oral board answers, but what tools can you use to do that – and what tools give you an edge?

A video camera is a great tool. You need to see how you look to other people. What better way is there to get a good look at yourself? How about standing in front of a mirror? Both of these tools help you check out how you appear to others, but both miss the most important aspect of your oral board answers – what you say and how you sound when you say it.

Only one tool can give you what you need when you practice: a hand-held tape recorder.

Think about it. The Oral Board, you talking, and the officers on the board listening. That spotless police badge you want to wear hinges on you picking up a tape recorder and hearing what is going to come out of your mouth in that unbelievably important situation.

I was contacted by a coaching candidate recently. He had made it to some oral boards and one Chief’s Oral, but had not been successful. Now, an invitation to the LAPD oral board had been offered, so he wanted to set up a private coaching session.

After a few moments of talking with him, I was aware of something critical that was probably missing in his previous preparations. I asked him if he used a tape recorder to practice. He hemmed and hawed and finally, like 99% of the candidates I interview, said, “Well, no. But, I am thinking about it.”

I told him to use a tape recorder to hear how he sounded. After trying this, he got the message – his answers were garbage.

Applicants want a badge so bad they will do nearly anything ethically and morally to get it, except to use the most effective preparation tool around.

For some reason, they do not get how valuable using a tape recorder is for practicing your answers. You can get your timing, inflection, and volume down pat, see where to cut material and how many uhs and duhs fill the pauses – and last, but not least, to see if you sound like Donald Duck.

To be successful at the police oral boards, you need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder. You need to hear what the oral board members are going to hear. That little tape recorder will narrow the distance between you and the badge you want so badly.

The first thing a candidate says when he hears his voice on a tape recorder is always, That’s not me! Well, yessir, it is you. And if you want it to sound different, glue that hand held tape recorder to your palm and practice, practice, practice.

Guys prepare for the Police Oral Boards by thinking about their answers and then writing them down. For some reason, they think that because they wrote them down, their answers will magically come rolling out of their mouths in the oral board. But, trust me, they will not! Your brain and mouth just don’t work that way.

If you want to prepare by writing something down, try this:

Write down your oral board questions on some 3×5 cards. You can use the Top 20 Asked Police Oral Board Questions found at

Practice your answers with the tape recorder.

Play back your recorded answers. If you hear something you don’t like, write it down on the back of the 3×5 card with that question.

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