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Old 12-07-2006, 12:16 PM   #1
Martin Schap
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I have an interview for Police Recruit one week from today. This will be my third Dept. to interview with, and I'm hoping not to make it my third rejection. Does anyone have any tips/horror stories, etc? The reason I want to do this job is because I thought about it a few years ago and decided I wanted a career in helping people. I'm in good shape (heck, I do Crossfit, that puts me light years ahead of the majority of people), pretty smart kid, etc, but so far I appear to be doing something wrong.
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Old 12-07-2006, 12:36 PM   #2
Brian Mansfield
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Martin,

Have the previous two PDs told you what was wrong with your interview? 10 years ago I interviewed with the department that I work for now. Back then I was fresh out of college without a clue about the interview process.

I worked at my hometown PD after completing a college internship. First I was hired as a part time dispatcher, then full time and then got lucky enough to be hired as a cop. Luckily that town has a history of hiring their dispatchers if they have themselves squared away.

6 years ago I retested for my current department, the same one that said "don't call us, we'll call you" 10 years ago. Naturally, with LEO experience it was a bit easier, but still nerve-racking...panel of 2 capts, 2 lt's, 2 sgts, camera recording and you're sitting in a folding chair. But it's all mental. Make sure you know information about the PD and the town. And most importantly, be honest.

They're cops interviewing you, they know when you are lying. It's part of the job.

Hope this helps some. Good luck, and if you have some more specific questions, ask away.

Brian.
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Old 12-07-2006, 01:03 PM   #3
Martin Schap
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Brian
Basically the one just said I didn't advance. They were looking for one candidate from a testing group of 35 or so. I did feel like I could have done better in the interview. 3 Captains who basically make a point of disagreeing with everything you say. The other department had an initial turnout of 1200 and they were looking for 60. I made it down to a field of 140 or so and then was cut. Again, no reason, but obviously after it's narrowed that much probably most of us were qualified and it just was basically the luck of the draw to some extent.

I do have one specific question. Is there some LEO etiquette as far as giving tickets to other LEO family members? Do police ask each other to take away tickets that have already been written? In one interview I was asked whether I would give my mother a ticket. I said no, of course, and then they asked whether I would give a ticket to another officer's mother. I said I would be less likely to give a ticket to someone who I knew was related to another officer. They then asked about giving a ticket to someone who I didn't know was the wife or mother of another officer, and that officer asks me to take the ticket away. I said that the ticket would have to stand because I think it is not appropriate for another officer to do that. Do you have an opinion on that? Am I wrong? This seemed to me to be a slightly unfair question because it assumes some knowledge of law enforcement, which is not supposed to be a prerequisite for the job. Opinions on this issue would be welcome.

Another one that tripped me up for roughly the same reason was how many miles over the speed limit would someone have to be going before I give them a ticket. My answer was there is no answer because 15 over is not the same on every road. That's way too fast in a school zone, for instance, but barely noticeable on some other roads in town. Furthermore, if someone is simply in excess of the speed limit that's a lot different from someone who may be going a mile or two slower but is weaving in and out of traffic, following to closely, etc. They acted like they really didn't like that answer. Am I wrong or were they playing games?
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Old 12-07-2006, 02:54 PM   #4
Ted Williams
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Those are typical PD interview questions...I always answered them by adressing the issue of discretion...stating that it would depend on the actual situation in question, and I might not know the exact answer until I was faced with that question in the momemnt. I don't work for the locals (though I've tested prior with a couple) but have found that discretion makes up a lot of the LE job...important to keep in mind.

Also, don't second guess yourself. If I thought a question was unfair because I lacked training, I would find a creative, non confrontational way to say pretty much that.

Some people test with a lot of places before getting picked up. It took me a year to get hired by my current agency. I was in the game for something like 2 years though....keep that in mind.
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Old 12-07-2006, 03:50 PM   #5
Lara Lewis
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Martin, check out the www.officer.com website (work and family safe link) if you haven't already. There are forums there where you should be able to get answers to your questions as well as job postings from all over the U.s. There are probably other sites out there, this is just the one I'm familliar with.
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Old 12-07-2006, 04:24 PM   #6
Martin Schap
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Thanks Ted
I'm by no means giving up. I've heard of guys who work for my hometown PD who tested 5 times with the same PD before getting on. As far as discretion, that's a good way to answer that. I think I came off as unsure because of the way I answered in that interview. Now that I've done it a couple of times it's easier because I know more what to expect.
Lara
Thanks. I will definitely check that out.
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Old 12-07-2006, 07:37 PM   #7
Mark Miller
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Martin this is starting to sound like the good ole 90's when it was a very competitive enviroment and sometimes it just comes down to numbers. The integrity questions tend to hem you up becasue you want to give an honest answer. After not getting offers from 4 depts I started to look at my interviews a little closer. My advice, give them the answer that they want to hear. You can practice discretion once they pin a badge on your chest. I held a solid line. One in particular was a senior officer (20 year vet), takes a diamond ring off the nightstand at a call for a DOA. What do you do? Think about this one and let me know. People are speeding, by law if they are over the limit they can get a ticket. When you start to operate in the gray or become wishy washy they may think that you may not have the ability to make sound decisions. I am not saying be Mr. Hard but be direct in your answers and act like you are the police and able to make a decision. Be prepared to back any decision up with logic and rationale. Remember they do not know Martin so make a good impression, speak clearly, be articulate, dress professionally, give off confidence and poise. They realize that you may not know all the answers but they want to see you making decisions. They are evaluating your character, integrity, pride, and respect. Keep this in mind and you should do well.
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Old 12-07-2006, 10:01 PM   #8
Eugene R. Allen
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I've been with my agency for 20 years and one of my assignments was in the training unit. While there I sat on oral boards for new hires as well as on boards where a decision had to be made to cut a person from the list for one reason or another. Mark's recent experience and advice is quite good, do not hem and haw and allow the board members to make you change your answers. Sometimes the highest ranking member on the board has been gone from police work for so long that they are clueless when it comes to how the practical day to day matters of law enforcement are conducted and haven't made an arrest in a decade. They may function as a rank festooned distraction DESIGNED to make you nervous and fearful, certain that any answer he does not like must be the wrong answer...don't fall for that nonsense, stick to your guns.

Practiced spontinaity. Oxymoronic sounding I know but what you want is to at least give the appearance of being able to think on your feet. Hopefully you can or you will suck at being a cop. But even if you can, your nervousness in the hot seat can make make it look as though you waffle and can be bullied into changing your stand on things. Think about what is being asked and make sure you understand the question. Feel free to discuss things outloud to show your thought process: "One mile an hour over the speed limit is speeding of course so anyone going 36 in a 35 zone is violating the law. But our purpose is not to cite everyone doing the slightest thing wrong but rather to influence behavior. No, I'm not going to write someone a ticket for a mile an hour over the speed limit as that would just engender distrust for law enforcement and create hate and discontent among those we are sworn to serve and protect. You ask me if not 1 mph how about 2 or 3...you'll eventually get to a number where I say yes I would write a ticket for say 10 over. But why not 9? I don't have an answer there, that's what discretion is all about and traffic conditions, other driving behavior and all sorts of other thngs would contribute to my decision at the time."

Avoid the death phrase: "I don't know." They are asking you how you think about things and that answer says "I don't know how to think" or "I don't know what I think." Both of those answers will tank your score. Again Mark is right, you may not know THE answer but you must know YOUR answer. Try to not be star struck or so nervous that you don't look at anyone or are otherwise intimidated. Also don't slouch in your chair as if you were the Fonz or something and that you don't care what happens. Be a person, have a conversation, be attentive, look at the person who is asking you the question but address the entire board. Practice answers to such questions as your greatest weakness/strength, why you would be a good cop, qualities a cop should have, what you have done to prepare yourself for the position and of course the write your own mother a ticket question. The question is idiotic and we never ask it, but the design of that and other family arrest/ticket questions is to see how you think and if you actually do answer questions with what "they want to hear." How do you know what that will be?

Be yourself - unless your an idiot, then be someone else. But I'm sensing that you are not an idiot and you are asking all the right questions and are giving this plenty of thought. We need people, want to move to Washington?
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Old 12-08-2006, 05:04 AM   #9
Martin Schap
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I'm proud to report that here in my area law enforcement is still a highly sought after and honorable profession. The PD I'm interviewing with didn't even advertise their testing day, they just sent invitations to people who had already applied.

That diamond ring one is a good one. I saw a version with a candy bar. My planned answer if I got a candy bar one is that I would make them put it back. I would stick with the same response for the ring. I would make them put it back. I would not threaten them with reporting it to someone else, but I would be prepared to do so if they did not put it back.

Awesome advice on the speeding question. That one really threw me my first time out because I wasn't expecting such specific questions. I hang out at the FOP some and the guys there had told me that they all just have sort of arbitrary numbers in their mind when they are doing radar patrol, but that just seemed to make the interview question more confusing, since it seemed so obvious that it would require a lot more knowledge of department practices than I have.

Eugene
Lots of good advice there as well. I will definitely talk to you later about this stuff.
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Old 12-08-2006, 10:53 AM   #10
Mark Miller
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Martin stick with that kind of response it shows that you are willing to call the senior officer on his unethical behavior and that you are willing to do the right thing if he wants to continue with his behavior. Eugene brought up Strength and Weakenss issue. Be prepared to point out weaknesses. Even Superman had a weakness. It shows that you are humble.
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