What to Expect When You’re Applying to Be A Police Officer

2/7/2019

Every type of job has a hiring process that involves, at the bare minimum, a written application and at least one interview. Applying to be a police officer is quite a bit more involved. Here are some common steps of the hiring process for law enforcement positions.

  1. Job Announcement: For regular jobs, hearing about opening positions sometimes depends on knowing someone on the inside. That’s not the case with law enforcement positions—because they are for public agencies, all police job openings must be publicly posted. You can find job announcements on websites like PoliceApp.com, as well as in your local paper or on the website of your local law enforcement agency.
  2. Initial Application: If you meet all the requirements listed in the job posting, the next step is to fill out an application packet. The purpose of the application packet is to learn more about you, to verify that you satisfy the minimum requirements for the job, and to collect preliminary information to ensure you meet the qualifications necessary to continue in the hiring process.
  3. Written exam: Most police officer candidates are required to take and pass a standardized written test covering basic reading, writing, and math skills. Most questions are multiple choice, but the test can also include a written or essay portion. Some departments may also use a video exam. For more information, see How to Prepare for the Police Written Exam.
  4. Physical agility test: Many police departments require applicants to take a physical agility test to determine if they are physically able to handle the rigorous training at the academy. For tips on passing the physical agility test, see How to Prepare for the Physical Agility Test When Applying for a Police Department Job.
  5. Oral exam: For the oral interview, or oral boards, you will be interviewed by one or several members of the department to which you are applying. They will ask you questions related to your background, personality, and job qualifications, and will also ask some questions to learn more about your judgment and decision-making. For more information, see How to Prepare for the Police Oral Exam.
  6. Conditional Offer: In some cases, candidates that have successfully met all requirements at this point in the process may receive a conditional offer, which is contingent on passing an additional exam or screening or being evaluated by a selection committee. A conditional offer does not guarantee employment with that agency.
  7. Background or Personal History Questionnaire: This is an extensive, in depth application that you will be required to complete. The information obtained will be used to conduct a background investigation to verify all the information and documents you have supplied and to determine if there is anything in your background that would disqualify you from being a police officer.
  8. Polygraph: A polygraph test may or may not be administered as part of the hiring process to corroborate the information you have provided and verify that you have not engaged in any behaviors that would disqualify you.
  9. Medical exam: A doctor will examine you to make sure you have no medical issues that would affect your ability to perform the job, and to determine whether you are medically fit for duty. The physical exam can also include drug testing.
  10. Psychological exam: Being a police officer can be emotionally and mentally challenging. The psychological exam is designed to determine whether you are mentally and emotionally suited to being a police officer, and that will not become a danger to yourself or others while performing the job.

 

If you have made it past all these steps, you must now wait to hear from the department to see if you have been offered a position. The process of hiring a police officer can take months, so be patient, and good luck!

Disclaimer: Not all departments require all the steps as discussed above, it is your responsibly to read and understand the requirement of each individual department that you with to apply to.

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