The following are tips that will help you prepare for your law enforcement oral board interview.
- Get proper rest. Get a good night's sleep and arrive early. (At least 15 minutes prior to your appointment.) This will allow you time to reduce your stress and allow for traffic or parking delays.
- Dress professionally. Your oral interview is a professional job interview and you should treat it as such. Dress in a conservative manner: Males/Females: business suit. Hairstyles should be neat and conservative. Shine your shoes. Don't wear cologne or perfume. Good personal hygiene is a must.
- Do your homework. Research the department and the City of Santa Clara regarding pertinent information useful for your interview. A great research tool is the Internet, especially the department's web site. (Ex: Who is the Chief of Police? What is the city's population? What are the current issues/operations/press releases involving that department and the public?) Request to go on a ride-along and see first hand what police officers do on a shift. (This would also allow you to interview the officer regarding the position.)
- Be honest! Honesty and integrity are the cornerstones to becoming a police officer.
- Sell yourself. Remember that the interviewers are also police officers, sergeants, lieutenants, or captains and they are listening intently to your responses. You are going to potentially be their co-worker and they are looking for the best candidate. They are listening to what you have to offer the department and the citizens of their city. Be enthusiastic, but be sincere. Be confident in your capabilities and show that you are interested in joining the department.
- Your experiences are important. Don't short sell your previous achievements. Tell them (when applicable) of your experiences with volunteer work, military service, playing on a team (sports or other function that shows teamwork), any ride-alongs with officers you attended, or anything you have done to contribute to the community.
- Act professionally. Do not smoke cigarettes prior to the interview, or chew gum during the interview. Look your interviewer in the eyes, but don't overly stare at one another.
- Be assertive and confident. When you first meet your interviewers, give each one a firm handshake and refer to them by rank and name. (Ex: Officer Smith, Lieutenant Sweeney, Captain Daniels, etc.)
- Focus on the interview. Listen to the questions that you are being asked. It is acceptable to ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of what is being asked, or ask that the question to be repeated. There will be scenario questions that will ask how you will react in certain situations.
- Finish strong. Have a closing statement to finish the interview. This would be a time to reiterate what makes you a desirable employee to the department. Stress the positive aspects of what you can bring to the department.
- Don't worry excessively. It is normal to feel nervous, especially if this is your first oral board interview. Preparing your closing statement, knowing the specifics of the job, and researching the department will decrease your nervousness.
The Santa Clara Police Department wishes to thank The City of Sacramento for their contributions to the Interviewing Tips and Hints listed on our website.