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How to Prepare for and Pass a Police Oral Board Interview

How to Prepare for and Pass a Police Oral Board Interview

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Brian Humenuk | Author | COPJOT
By: Brian Humenuk  MS|CJA  COPJOT
Published on July 7, 2024
4 minute read



I have personally sat on both sides of police oral board interviews. First as an applicant going through the hiring process and second as a law enforcement leader conducting the interviews.

In all of the steps of the law enforcement hiring process none can be more challenging and at the same time critical than the oral board interview.

Some are easy, many are difficult, and at the end of the day success is achievable in any oral board interview.

The oral board interview can certainly seem like a stumbling block for many but do yourself a huge favor and read this entire article.

I started the process of becoming a police officer just as the first large group of US military veterans were returning from the Gulf War in the 1990’s.

Many aspiring law enforcement officers during this time needed to apply to a half dozen or more agencies and many had to take jobs out of their home state. The start of my career was no different.

In each of the oral board interviews that I participated in I will admit that I was very nervous. Being nervous though is human nature. There is a lot on the line.


Let’s face it police leaders who conduct the interviews can be intimidating individuals.


Interviewing one on one can be a breeze compared to a 3–7-member board.

As time went on and my completed oral board interviews started to pile up I started to learn a lot of things and everything that I learned is going to be right here within this article.

In this article I am going to deep dive into all things police oral board interview. I will dive into essential tips and strategies on how to prepare for a police interview, including practical advice on answering common questions, dressing appropriately, and making a strong impression on the interview panel.

I will also dive into the specifics of the oral board interview process, providing detailed guidance on researching the department, practicing responses, and understanding the role's responsibilities.

You will learn how to articulate your motivations for becoming a police officer and how to showcase your strengths effectively.

Additionally, we will cover important aspects such as what to wear, how to maintain composure under pressure, and how to handle ethical questions.

So, take a seat, turn your phone ringer to silent, grab your favorite beverage and get ready to consume a lot of valuable information, tips and advice.


If you are new to COPJOT and me as an author please check out my other articles here at the blog index. 

Be sure to read the next article >> These Police Exam Study Guides Get Top Results [Ultimate Guide] <<

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Preparing for a police, sheriff, or highway patrol oral board interview is a critical step in the sometimes long journey to becoming a law enforcement officer.

Many aspiring law enforcement officers dread the day that they will have to meet and speak in front of an oral board.

On the leadership side of my experience with oral board interviews I can tell you this. Nervousness can be a good thing. 

You are expected to be nervous and in many cases that behavior means that you feel as though this time in your life is important, you know that you have a lot to loose and you may lack experience at speaking confidently in front of several people that will be judging you. 

So it is important for the people conducting the interview to calm you down and get you to relax so that you can speak freely and the interview can be productive.

Learn More: Do you know everything there is to know about law enforcement and the purpose that it serves? Be sure to read >> What is Law Enforcement and it's Purpose? [Ultimate Guide] <<

You may be asked some fundamental questions about law enforcements role in society and what you can provide to the profession as well as the community.

What is a Police Oral Board Interview?

A police oral board interview is an important part of the hiring process for law enforcement agencies. It, to me, is right up there in the top 3 steps in the hiring process.

It typically involves a panel of police officers, senior staff, and sometimes community members, who will ask you a series of questions to assess your suitability for the role.

The interview aims to evaluate your communication skills, judgment, decision-making abilities, and overall fit for the department.

Questions can sometimes be meant to trip you up and see how you navigate your way through stressful and ethical decision making.

How Do I Prepare for a Police Board Interview?

Character, Integrity, Ethics and Leadership

The first thing you have to understand and weave into your mindset are the terms character, integrity, ethics and leadership.


You MUST understand what these terms are and why they would be associated with you and being a police officer.

The ideal time when you should start to understand the importance of these words and their meaning is the day that you enter the hiring process.

But for those of you who have already gone past that day, today is a great day to start to learn about character, integrity, ethics and leadership.

I am going to dive into each one of them in a few seconds but you should look them up and understand what they mean.

Write them down and have them in a place where you will see them every day like on your bedroom door, on your bed headboard, on your car dashboard, in your locker at work.

Let’s go over the meanings of these terms now.


Personal ethics refer to an individual's moral principles and values that guide their behavior and decision-making in daily life.

These principles are often influenced by cultural, religious, and personal experiences. Personal ethics help individuals navigate complex situations and make choices that align with their values.

As a law enforcement officer you will face complex situations and will need to make decisions that could alter your life, your partners life and a civilians life.

A law enforcement agency is going to hire you and ultimately have to trust you in many ways. Your ethics have to be top notch and you values have to align with the agencies values like for instance treating all people fairly and applying the law evenly.


Character refers to the set of moral and mental qualities, beliefs, and traits that define an individual’s behavior and personality.

It encompasses one's ethical and moral principles, integrity, and how consistently these are demonstrated in daily actions and decisions.

Character shapes how individuals interact with others, face challenges, and make choices, thereby playing a crucial role in personal and professional life.


Integrity is the quality of being honest, having strong moral principles, and consistently adhering to ethical standards, regardless of the circumstances.

It involves a firm commitment to doing what is right and maintaining truthfulness and fairness in all actions.

Integrity is a foundational aspect of character, influencing how individuals conduct themselves personally and professionally.


Leadership is a key aspect that agencies want in their new hires. They look for signs of leadership qualities in you, in your life, in your background, in your current employer.

Law enforcement agencies love to hire people who are proven leaders even in a small way.

And lastly, a person with bad or negative ethics, character or integrity traits cannot be a law enforcement officer. It’s just that plain and simple. If you do, you may slip through the cracks and get on the job but your career will be short lived.

Research the Department

Before the interview, research the police department you are applying to. Understand their mission, values, community involvement, and any recent news or achievements.

This knowledge will not only help you answer questions more effectively but also demonstrate your genuine interest in the department.

Learn More: Are you unfamiliar with the rank structure of law enforcement agencies? Be sure to read my article >> Common Police Ranks In Order for Most Departments (Ultimate Guide) <<

Review Common Interview Questions

Familiarize yourself with common police interview questions. Practice answering questions such as:

  • Why do you want to be a police officer?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would you handle a difficult situation or a high-pressure scenario?
  • Describe a time when you demonstrated leadership or teamwork.

Practice Your Responses

Practice your responses to these questions with a friend or family member, or in front of a mirror. Focus on delivering clear, concise, and confident answers.

This preparation for police interview will help you feel more comfortable and less nervous during the actual interview.

Understand the Role

Ensure you have a thorough understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a police officer. Be prepared to discuss how your skills and experiences align with these responsibilities

Prepare Your Documents

Organize all necessary documents, such as your resume, references, and any certificates or awards. Having these documents ready will show your preparedness and attention to detail.

How to Answer "Why Do You Want to Be a Cop?"

This is one of the most common questions in a police interview. Your answer should be sincere and reflect your motivation and passion for law enforcement. Here are some tips for crafting a compelling response:

Personal Story: Share a personal story or experience that inspired you to pursue a career in law enforcement.

This could be a positive interaction with a police officer or a desire to make a difference in your community.

Align with Department Values: Be sure to research and understand the agency mission statement. Highlight how your values align with those of the department.

Mention specific aspects of the department’s mission or community initiatives that resonate with you.

Commitment to Public Service: Emphasize your commitment to public service and your desire to protect and serve your community.

Show that you understand the challenges of the job and are prepared to face them.

Learn More: Do you know all of the benefits of becoming a police officer? There may be more than you think! Be sure to read >> 7 Top Reasons to be a Police Officer [Ultimate Guide] <<

Is a Police Interview Hard?

A police interview can be challenging, but with thorough preparation and a positive mindset, you can succeed. Here is something to think about.

If you have been doing some research online and found this article you are already one leg up in the process of preparation. Do yourself a favor and read this article 2-3 times so you don’t miss anything.

You will probably be competing for a position against others who want the same position. How much preparing is your competition doing? How much time are they putting in? How much time preparing are you putting in?

If you fail an oral board interview it only comes down to a few things and some are out of your control.

> You were too nervous and couldn’t get any answers out. This can happen especially for younger and inexperienced applicants.

> You were not truthful.

> You did not prepare enough.

> You did not research the agency.

> You were late to the interview. 

> You did not dress appropriately.

> You were inexperienced.

> Your competition was better than you were. 

What Are Your Strengths in a Police Interview?

When asked about your strengths, focus on qualities that are relevant to the role of a police officer. Here are some examples:

Leadership: Discuss your leadership skills and provide examples of how you have led teams or initiatives in the past.

Problem-Solving: Highlight your problem-solving abilities and provide examples of how you have successfully resolved conflicts or challenging situations.

Physical Fitness: Emphasize your physical fitness and readiness for the demanding nature of police work. Mention any relevant training or certifications you have completed.

Communication: Talk about your strong communication skills and your ability to interact effectively with diverse groups of people.

What to Wear to a Police Interview?

Dressing appropriately for your police interview is crucial as it reflects your professionalism and respect for the process. Here are some tips on what to wear:

Business Attire: Opt for business attire. For men, this typically means a suit and tie. For women, a business suit or professional dress is appropriate.

Conservative Style: Choose conservative styles and colors. Avoid flashy or overly trendy clothing. Stick to neutral colors like black, navy, gray, or white.

Grooming: Ensure you are well-groomed. Pay attention to your hair, nails, and overall cleanliness. Avoid excessive makeup, jewelry, or cologne/perfume.

Comfortable Shoes: Wear comfortable, polished shoes. Make sure they are clean and in good condition.

Police Interview Tips

Arrive Early: Arriving early shows punctuality and eagerness. Plan to arrive at least 15-20 minutes before your scheduled interview time.

Sit Up Straight with a Firm Posture: This shows command presence and respect for authority. I may be old school but interviewers will be reading your body language.

Bring Necessary Documents: Bring multiple copies of your resume, references, and any other required documents. Have them neatly organized in a folder.

Be Polite and Respectful: Treat everyone you meet with respect, from the receptionist to the panel members. Politeness and professionalism go a long way in making a positive impression.

Listen Carefully: Listen to the questions carefully before responding. Take a moment to gather your thoughts if needed.

Answer the question directly and succinctly looking each interviewer in the eyes especially the one who asked the question.

Thank Them for their Time: These people are busy and this can be a process. Thank each of them and offer a firm handshake either at the beginning or end of the interview.

Ask Questions: Prepare a few thoughtful questions to ask the panel at the end of the interview. This shows your interest in the role and the department.

Advice for the Preparation for a Police Oral Board Interview

Physical and Mental Preparation: Ensure you are physically and mentally prepared for the interview.

Get plenty of rest the night before, and practice relaxation techniques to stay calm.

Mock Interviews: Conduct mock interviews with friends, family, or mentors. Simulate the interview environment and get feedback on your performance.

Review Your Application: Be familiar with your application and any information you have provided.

Be prepared to discuss your background, experiences, and qualifications in detail.

Know the Community: Understand the community you will be serving. Be aware of any specific issues, demographics, and community initiatives that are relevant to the department.

Highlight Your Experience: Use your previous experiences to support your answers. Provide specific examples that demonstrate your skills and abilities.

Be Honest and Authentic: Be yourself during the interview. Authenticity is important, and the panel can usually tell if you are being genuine.

Follow Up: Send a thank-you note or email to the panel members after the interview.

Express your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the position.

Stay Calm Under Pressure: Police work often involves high-pressure situations. Show the panel that you can remain calm and composed under stress.

Be Prepared for Ethical Questions: You may be asked questions about ethical dilemmas or scenarios.

Be prepared to discuss how you would handle situations that test your integrity and ethical judgment.

Show Commitment to Training: Emphasize your willingness to undergo training and continuous learning. Mention any relevant training or certifications you have completed.

Demonstrate Teamwork: Police work is often collaborative. Highlight your ability to work well in a team and provide examples of how you have successfully collaborated with others.

About the Author

Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.

Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.

Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption. 

You can find out more about Brian and the COPJOT story on the ABOUT US page.

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COPJOT is supported by its audience. If you make a purchase through links on this site I may earn a small affiliate commission. Enough to buy myself a small coffee and I want to thank you in advance. 

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