Law Enforcement Oral Board Experience
*The following is an excerpt from an ebook “How to crush your Law Enforcement Oral Board” from Pat Leo. It will cover Oral Boards in depth and will contain a how to format along with examples, a few stories, and some homework questions to help you really crush it.
“Setting the scene”
You had to wake up early and there’s a good chance you’re in a fucking rush. You hopefully had a haircut recently and have to plaster your hair with hair-gel or hairspray and put on a ridiculous three piece suit or at least a shirt and tie, a pants suit for the ladies maybe and now you have to go fight traffic with your map app open on your phone while you are also keeping your eyes open for where the fuck to park.
You walk in a stifled mess, your neck is tight from your starchy shirt, you have to pee but don’t want to ask for the bathroom. You are greeted by several uniformed and civilian employees who may or may not want to make small talk with you, telling you “You’ll be fine” as you are marched into the nicest room in the building with uniformed officers wearing lots of brass on their collar.
Meanwhile… The hiring panel (anywhere from 2 to 10 people). They woke up to just another day at the office. They likely have no clue who the hell any of these candidates are. They possibly forgot that they are giving hiring interviews today. This is likely not their first time sitting through these Oral Boards and they are probably NOT excited about it because it will effect their normal routine. Even with 3 or 4 applicants to interview in a day this could still turn into a 4-8 hour ordeal for the hiring staff.
They do NOT have a vested interest in you and they are have heard it all before… or have they? This is where you walk in.
The most likely set up is a large conference table with a hand full of uniformed and maybe civilian personnel sitting along one side of the table looking very professional (which means good posture, not smiling, and a look of “i’m very serious and will judge you)” …ok sometimes some of them smile. They will have paperwork in front of them that has either your application packet or mandatory questions that they have to ask you or both. You probably have nothing.
As you walk in it may be a pleasant atmosphere or it may be strangely strict and devoid of emotion. You now may have to play the guessing game of “Do I shake hands or not?”. You may also be wondering if you should be remembering the names of the seven people seated across from you.
You may have to pee from drinking too much water in the waiting room, or you may have been all pumped up but had to wait too long so now you’ve read three magazines cover to cover on the waiting room table and you’ve lost your mojo.
And they sit you down and say “Hello Mr Applicant. Please, tell us about yourself”. And the game is on.
***Almost EVERY single Oral Board I’ve taken, and catalogued from others, follows this general progression.
- “Tell us about yourself”
- Pre written questions from the panel.
- Impromptu follow ups and elaboration.
- Ethics questions / Scenario Questions
- “Any questions from you?”
I want to help you completely tear this process apart and dominate it.
That’s the scene. In the following 45-60 minutes you now have the ability to make these people have a vested interest in you. You do NOT want to bore them by being a robot. You do NOT want to seem fake. You do NOT want to start by repeating the question “Ok, tell you about myself…” while you respond with some heavy mouth-breathing and throw in a few “Can I start over’s”. If that’s the case than at this point you can ensure you have a very short interview.
You want to look like you are from a normal background. You want to look like you have passion but you’re not a poster child for do-gooders. If you are reading the room properly and you have a chance to use humor or tell a funny story then later when ALL of their interviews are over you want them to pick up your file from the stack and say “Mr. Applicant, OH he’s the one that is from that cool place where as a child he did that funny ass thing!” and you don’t want them to say “This guy’s a retard” or even worse “Who is this applicant?”
Bonus Homework: A process. 1- while in the car ask yourself “Tell us about yourself” and just fucking start talking. No matter what. Just get it ALL out. Look at the clock before and after you start and think about that time. At first you may be at either 40 seconds or 6 minutes. That’s fiiiiine. 2- Once you have tried and screwed it up a few times shoot for between a 1:30 and 2:00mins timeline. Now repeat it a few times and see what feels like you spend too much time on, and see what things you think are really important to you. Try to gloss over the family and the grade school BS and spend more time on the things that make you unique, interesting, and a good candidate. 3- Keep smoothing out the process but every time that you shoot for that 2 min mark you will record yourself doing it, then you will listen to the whole 2 minute rambling of yourself! and repeat. THAT is today’s article’s value for you. Enjoy.
Because they are human you want them to not be fucking miserable during your interview. Because they are human, when they hold up your packet and think to themselves “Yes pile, No pile, Maybe pile” you want them to remember who you are and you want them to think that YOU are a human, and they like you.
Now, if there are more steps in the process, whether it is moral, ethical, within policy, or NOT… it is much better to be the guy that gets the call ahead to the lie detector proctor, or to the shrink with the phrase “Hey, we just interviewed Mr. Applicant and we’re sending him to you tomorrow. We reeeeeally like him. Really like him…”.
So do your homework and don’t fuck this up. Reading, alone, won’t get you hired.