Become a Cop >> Browse Articles >> So You Wanna Be a Cop...


Part 6 - The Pre-Employment Interview

Deputy Bob Cooley

To repeat myself I have no way of knowing what questions may be put to you in a pre-employment interview just like the application. I can only pass along pointers to help you get through the interview as best you can. The “oral” as so many people call it causes the most stress of any phase of the application process. Without doubt the anxiety level soars when you walk in the room and look at one or more unsmiling faces staring back at you!

Okay, if you have made it this far congratulate yourself because you’ve passed the pre-employment and physical agility examinations with a high enough score that the agency has further interest in you. I also believe that your application has been given a cursory examination by the agency administration and that coupled with your exam scores has sent you on to the next level. So take a moment and pat yourself on the back take a deep breath and be prepared because the anxiety does get worse!

First, just like the night before the pre-employment examination you need to try and get a good night sleep. This does not mean go out with your friends and get hammered at your local nightspot! It means go to bed at a reasonable time and try to get some sleep! When you get up the next morning take a shower this will help wake you up and as everyone knows a shower will help to refresh you. If you’re over tired you won’t be able to concentrate the way you should and that may cause you to leave a bad impression with the interviewers. For goodness sake don’t yawn in front of the interviewers you’ll cause a mental reaction of “Are we boring you” in the minds of the interviewers. I’ve seen it happen.

Second, wear a suit and tie, sport coat and tie with clean pressed dress pants or trousers and shined shoes. For the ladies wear a nice dress, pants suit or clothing you feel is appropriate for the interview. Remember this may be the first visual impression you’re going to make on the member(s) of the interview committee so you want your “visual best.” Recently we had an interview session for prospective applicants and one young man came to the interview in an old blue jean jacket, worn out blue jean pants a ragged flannel shirt and sneakers that looked like they were twenty years old. This had a negative reaction from one of the command staff of our agency as soon as he laid eyes on him. His comment to me was “He must not want the job very badly does he?” Bingo, an impression had already been formed in the mind of one of the interviewers. When it was all said and done all four made comments not only about what was said in the interview, but also the applicants sloppy appearance.

Third, for goodness sake don’t chew gum or anything else during the interview! Gum chewing is frowned upon, but if you must do something for your growling stomach which has managed to tie itself into knots then suck on a lifesaver. This will have multiple benefits you may not even be aware of such as quieting the stomach and freshening your breath! Hey I’ll be the first one to admit I have “horse breath” and no it’s not because I kiss horses either. My dentist explained to me that I’m one of those people who have very hard teeth, heavy plaque production and the inherent bad breath that goes along with it. And for those of you who chew tobacco don’t have a “chaw” just before going into the interview! There’s nothing worse than spitting a load of tobacco juice into a trashcan or seeing tobacco leaves stuck in someone’s teeth!

Fourth, answer the questions the interviewer(s) have fully, truthfully and to the best of your ability. Try not to hem and haw before answering because depending on the question it may give the impression you’re trying to hide something or you’re out and out lying. Please don’t try to anticipate the interviewer(s) questions let them finish speaking then begin your answer. The one that seems to cause applicants the most trouble is why you want to become a Law Enforcement Officer. I see this question on the forums on every Police related Internet site I’ve visited. "What do I tell the interviewers when they ask me “Why do you want to become a police officer.”" Folks you need to sit down at home somewhere quiet and jot down your reasons. If they make sense to you I feel confident they’ll make sense to the interviewer(s) as well.

Fifth, I have always been impressed with applicants who at the end of the interview make it a point to thank me and the other members of the interview team for the time we have taken away from our schedules to consider the applicant for employment. One applicant said recently “Thank you for taking the time to consider my application and I hope I have made a favorable impression.” This is optional, but it certainly can’t hurt your chances and I appreciated the comment because I felt it was sincere. If you feel that this might give your interview a little extra boost then by all means pass along your thanks.

Continue To Part 7: The Polygraph Examination

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.