Law Enforcement Hiring Process…Suuuuucks

So I attended training tonight, given to me by an O-3 who is serving at my deployed military reserve unit who also happens to work for the ATF. I don’t think ALL officers are incompetent, but the title of the training was “HOW TO apply to a federal law enforcement position”. If you notice the capitalized words: how to. Ya, I did too. As it turns out the one thing NOT covered in the training was HOW TO do it. So I’m going to answer those questions for you the best I can for any type of government/law enforcement position you may be applying for. 🙂

There are several phases in the hiring process. Each phase I could probably rant for a few hours on end but we’ll introduce you to each phase and hopefully be as honest and uncensored as possible and maybe we can really give it to you (that what she said) in a way that you haven’t heard it  before.

Example of a standard battery of test, or steps in the law enforcement hiring process. Application Packet, PT Test, Psychological, Lie Detector, Background Investigation, Oral Board. Here we go:

Application packet:

This fucking blows. Basically you need to account for a shit ton of personal details with dates and addresses and names of people, for basically, no god dammed reason. The best quick advice I can give you that most people get hung up on is 1- Make sure all of your dates of employment and addresses are accounted for. 2- Make sure your references contact info is all up to date and that they expect a phone call about you from an unfamiliar or unknown number, becauuuuuse,   (this is important in the background phase) if your background investigator has a hard time contacting your references or verifying your addresses and employment than your application goes to the bottom of the stack and they move on to another candidate for their work day. *Investigators are people too, and they are government employees. Some might, but most of them don’t have a vested interest in hiring YOU specifically because most of them will not have any clue who you are and their job is to “process applications” and they, like most employed humans, punch out at the end of the day too. The more clear and accurate your application packet is, and the easier you make it for your background investigator, the better the chance is that your packet stays on top of the stack. And THAT is the game here.

Another theme here is that EVERYTHING you put in that hiring packet is on record. And EVERY law enforcement agency that you apply to in the future will ask you about every agency you applied to in the past. They will contact those agencies and request your hiring packet that you used for them and they will cross reference it with their own to make sure all your information matches up. So just a heads up 😉

PT Test:

Ok. THIS SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE TO YOU! This is usually posted on your agency’s web site or contained within their application packet. Show up early, be hydrated, and for god’s sake don’t act like it’s a fucking surprise. Do some damn cardio and practice before the test A LOT. Make your practice harder than the actual test is so that you don’t look like an idiot when you show up and are puking at the end of your mile and a half jog. If you are reading this and are in great shape than you already know I’m not talking about you.


Before the first one I took, a detective from the respective agency told me “Between you and me, you don’t have to divulge every little secret to the Doc. He is not YOUR doc, he is ours. Just use your head”. So basically my first order of business to become a “Public Servant” was to lie on a test. I told the truth, and received a phone call from the same Detective who said “I told you that you don’t have to admit to anything…” So I told him, “If I have to lie to work for your department than I don’t need to work for you to begin with. Byeeee”.

I didn’t get hired lol. Which is fine. I took another psychological later with all the same answers that I gave from the first one, and I still got hired.

So my advice to you:

1- once you admit to something in the psychological it is on record* and every agency in the future will also have access to that report.

2- with that in mind, if you pretend to be something you are not than it’s going to feel really shitty when you still don’t get hired based on that test.

3- the test can be anywhere on the crazy spectrum from totally normal to weird wannabe CIA bullshit where they try to trick you into stealing a pen and explain to you that you can’t be a cop if you are also a thief.

In conclusion: Don’t fucking sweat it. I don’t know of any way to prepare other than to be calm, don’t get worked up, and for the most part be yourself. I’m not going to tell you to lie….. but… for some reason I think that the government expects you to. So it’s on you. 😉

The Lie Detector:

This one pisses me off. Imagine you are about to start a relationship with a life partner (of any sex. I don’t judge) which is a 20-30 year long (or forever) relationship; and the FIRST order of business is to tell them “You better not lie to me” and in the same breath you give multiple straight faced lies to them… A recipe for love right??? Are you fucking kidding me?

“This test is 90% accurate” False.

“If you are completely honest you will pass” Lie.

“I won’t know your results until I present your metrics to a blind third party, just to make sure I’m not biased” Bullshit.

“I’m not perfect, but I told the truth on my lie detector test a long time ago and I still got hired! Hahaha, we’re friends right?” They have to say that.

“I’m here to HELP you get hired, not to stop you from getting hired”. They also have to say that. It is LITERALLY in their operators manual of which I have read cover to cover.

My advice to you? Like I feel with all things government.. in the words of a good friend of mine “You’ve got to keep an even keel. If they are going to fuck you, you’ve got to fuck them back, at least enough so that your ship doesn’t flip over in one direction.”

I WILL be doing a full article on this in the future, but beware, if you’re a terrible liar this will suck because they WILL ask you if you have studied or googled or asked anybody how to beat a lie detector test. You will have to say no. Be prepared for that. Also I’ll give you some resources for that in the future.

Background investigation:

If they can’t possibly verify it, than I don’t recommend admitting to it.

The easier you make it for the investigator the higher your packet will sit on the hiring stack.

They WILL cross reference every other application you have put in to other agencies. Beware.

That’s about it for this one.

Oral Interview Panel:

OOOOHHHHHhhhhh! This one is the fucking BREAD and BUTTER if there were any in the hiring process. I 100% will go way deep into this in the future (thats what… he? said?) Of every single person I have mentored who applied to law enforcement jobs has smashed their oral boards out of the park.

In much the same way that military qualification and promotion oral boards are done I recommend the following.

1- You will be asked SEVERAL SOFTBALL QUESTIONS that you KNOW ahead of time will be asked of you. Tell me about yourself. What are three of your weaknesses. Why do you want to work here. What is our Sheriff’s name? etc. If you can’t swing and hit these softballs than it’s going to be miserable for you during your interview and painfully boring and offensive for the employees that have to select you for hire amongst other applicants. THEY ARE PEOPLE TOO! And again *the easier you make it for your oral board panel members, the higher on the stack your application sits. THIS is the name of the game.

2- If you can make yourself memorable, and not boring, and you can tactfully inject humor into your interview, then they will remember you when they are slashing through files that they have to get rid of in the “don’t hire” and “hire” piles of applications.

3- There are several methods to making your oral board the LEAST stressful step in this process. And another hint, even though it is not openly admitted, if you take your oral board early in the process, and you fucking SMASH it (!) than it is possible/likely that they will give the nod to the polygraph examiner and the psychological examiner and let them know that you are desirable.

Hopefully this wasn’t boring, and hopefully you have been given a different perspective on these steps than other boring fucking blogs about police work that are all Airy Fairy, Mamby Pamby, politically correct articles.

Much more to come.

(That’s what she said)