Part 9 - Psychologocial Exam, Background Check, and the Final Interview
Deputy Bob Cooley
The Psychological Examination
In this phase of the application process you are asked to take a psychological examination conducted by a trained and licensed clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist. Obviously the agency is trying to determine if you are mentally fit for the duties required of a Law Enforcement Officer. This is an important part of the application process because it will re-affirm the agencies belief in your mental capabilities and your current mental stability. In this world of civil liability, law enforcement agencies have turned to the world of the professional psychologist to conduct a psychological profile of applicants. Gone are the days when the interview by the background investigator or administrator is relied upon as proof of your mental health. This can be an extensive examination depending of course on what the agency is asking for and the test or questions the psychologist/psychiatrist uses in the evaluation process. Again this is an area where the testing and questions asked of you will vary. My advice is to dress appropriately, try to relax during the process and answer the questions truthfully and to the best of your ability.
The Background Investigation
The background investigation is just that. In most cases an officer, detective or investigator from the agency you have applied to will be assigned to look at the information provided. He or she will then attempt to verify the information not only to its completeness, but also whether or not it is factual. The investigator will contact friends, relatives, past employers, neighbors, schools and anyone else he or she feels is relevant to the investigation. He will be “armed” with your “authorization to release information” that allows him to contact anyone you have named on the application and even people not named such as neighbors who live down the street. He or she will search through his or her own department criminal records and will contact other agencies such as the state motor vehicle administration, state police, FBI and any agency or court who may have had any contact with you. This is why it is so crucial for you to answer questions truthfully either written or verbal. A background investigator who finds something wrong i.e. a serious traffic violation on your driving record or worse will be dismayed if when they ask you about what they found and you answer “Oh I forgot all about that.” I hope you see the reason why I recommended you conduct your own background investigation at the beginning of this article. The last thing you want is an unexpected surprise!
The Final Interview
Well, congratulations you made all the way through the process and you now have an appointment to meet with the Chief, Sheriff, Commissioner or a senior commander of the agency you applied to. Instead of taking you step by step through this final interview I want you to go back and reread the section on the pre-employment interview (part six). Everything I’ve told you there applies to the interview with the senior administrator. The only thing I’m going to add is to be yourself. Don’t try to be something your not because it will create a false impression and believe me that’s the last thing you want to do.
Finally, if for whatever reason you are not hired by this agency, don’t give up! The very next day go out and obtain applications from other agencies near and far and start the process again. I know it’s hard and I know you’ re disappointed, but as so many poets have said, “never lose sight of your dream.”