How to Prepare for the Police Oral Exam


Being able to communicate effectively with others is critical to your effectiveness as a police officer. If you want to become a police officer, part of the hiring process will include an oral exam, also called the oral boards or oral interview, which tests how you express yourself, make decisions, and interact with other people.

Here are some answers to questions you may have about the oral portion of the police exam.

When will I take the oral police exam?

The oral interview usually takes place after you’ve passed both the written test and the physical agility assessment.

What is the police oral exam designed to test?

The oral exam tests your communications skills including verbal comprehension, how well you pay attention, independent reasoning, decision-making, interpersonal skills, and how you express yourself.

Are my answers to the questions the only thing that matters?

No—in the oral test, everything you do and say matters! You will be judged on how you enter the room, how you address the interviewers, your tone of voice, your body language, eye contact, and how you present yourself.

How many people will conduct the police oral exam?

The oral exam may be conducted by a single department representative or a panel of several people.

Is there a standard oral exam I can study?

There is no standard oral exam—every department has its own method of administering the test and uses its own questions. In general, some questions will be related to your background, personality, and job qualifications, and some questions will test your judgment and decision-making by asking how you would handle a specific situation. 

Are there some common questions I can prepare answers for?

While there are no standard questions on the police oral exam, you may be asked to tell the interviewers a little bit about yourself, why you want to be a police officer, what your long-term career goals are, and why you think you should be hired. There are no “right” answers to these questions, but you should show you put some thought into the questions and be honest in your answers.

Will there be any “trick” questions?

The questions on the police oral exam are not designed to trick you, but they are meant to give your interviewers a true and complete sense of who you are as a person and whether you would make a good police officer. To that end, you may be asked things like what your biggest weaknesses are, how you have handled problems in the past, or how you would handle a moral issue like what to do if you saw another police officer committing a crime or whether you would issue a ticket to a friend or family member.

How can I do well on the police oral boards?

Be prepared before the exam—practice answering the types of questions listed above, learn as much as you can about the department you’re applying to, and make sure you make a good impression with your attire and personal grooming. During the oral test, listen carefully to each question and answer fully and honestly. Use a calm, even tone of voice when answering, and express yourself clearly and logically.

Good luck!

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