Joseph Libowsky,
former Special Agent

In order to become a police officer, you need to be prepared for a long and comprehensive hiring process that may take a several months. Each police department has their own set of requirements and a list of exams and tests in order to determine the best candidate for the position.

Some of the most important elements of the selection process include the written test and the oral board interview. These are the factors that have the highest weight when it comes to selecting prospective police officers. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of the components of each exam and to be well-prepared. 

The police oral board interview features a panel that asks a number of questions in order to form an opinion about the candidate and score their results. There are basically two types of questions – personality questions, and scenario questions, which are used to find out your skills, knowledge, attitudes, reactions. 

Being well-prepared for the oral board interview will help you pass it with a high score, which significantly increases your chances of getting hired. Therefore, before you start browsing the job openings you might consider getting an online prep course that will help you understand the oral board interview and pass it with flying colors. 

What is the police oral board interview? 

The police oral board interview is a mandatory component of the hiring process for any police department. It plays a significant role in shortlisting only the very best candidates that can truly perform the job of a police officer and that are a good fit within the given department.  

There is no need to worry about the interview if you are well-prepared. All you need to do is actually answer several questions as honestly as possible while trying to present the board with the best aspects of your personality in order to convince them that you are the most suitable and best candidate for the job. 

The interview is carried out by a group of panelists who are usually 3-5 members. The board includes lieutenants or sergeants, patrol or field training officers, human resources, city council representatives, or members of the community. The head of the department usually not present for this interview, however with some departments they may attend these interviews. In some agencies, there might be just one interviewer – this happens usually in smaller departments.  

The panelists assign scores to each candidate with the maximum being 100 and the minimum passing score is usually 70. However, a score of 90 or higher is the one that makes your chances higher given that you pass the other elements successfully as well.  

The oral interview features two main types of questions: 

  1. Personality questions that refer to your past experience, strengths, weaknesses, desire to become a police officer, and moral values. 
  2. Scenario-based questions that aim to determine how you would react to a given situation typical for the life of a police officer.  

It is necessary to answer all of the questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. While the scenario-based questions tackle problems from real-life situations that police officers may encounter, it is not necessary to have prior experience in or knowledge of law enforcement in order to answer them. Still, some preparation in advance can help you ace the interview and provide more appropriate answers.  You can prepare yourself using an Interview Prep Program.

What are the main types of police oral board interview scenario questions? 

Once the personality questions are over, the panel will ask you several scenario-based questions in order to determine how you can handle a typical situation from the life of a police officer. These questions require a thorough answer and not simply a “yes” or “no” answer.

It is a good idea to pause for a while after hearing the question and then provide your answer. Be careful not to pause too much or overthink the situation as you are expected to reach quickly in such situations in real life. 

Note that it is a good idea to justify your answer. Quite often, the members of the board may ask you why you would do or wouldn’t do something in a given scenario. This does not mean that you have answered the question incorrectly. They are evaluating your decision making ability and process, and how well you articulate your thoughts and proposed actions. Learn how to answer scenario questions with an Interview Prep Course.

The aim of the police oral board interview scenario questions is to show how you would react in situations requiring judgment, quick reactions, integrity, and interaction with co-workers. There are several areas included in the scenario-based questions with five areas being the leading ones: 

  • Judgment 
  • Use of force 
  • Supervision 
  • Integrity 
  • Interaction with co-workers 

You may get one or several questions in each area. They help the board to see if the candidates have what they are looking for in their new employees. Below, you will find an example for each scenario with the possible answers. 

  1. Judgment scenario questions 

This type of questions aims to check whether you can make the right decision while at work. A common example of such a question is the following: 

You and your partner are driving a dangerous prisoner to jail. On your way, you see a car accident and there seem to be injured people as the cars are quite damaged. What would you do? 

Perhaps, your first reaction as a citizen would be to say that you will stop the car and get out to check if you can help. This, however, is not the most appropriate answer for a police officer. Remember that you are escorting a dangerous prisoner and it is not a good idea to leave your partner alone with the criminal in the car. Besides, your duty is to drive the prisoner and you need to perform it as quickly as possible. There is also the chance that the accident is actually an ambush and prisoner’s friends are trying to help him escape. 

The right answer to this question is that you will proceed with your job – that is driving the prisoner to their destination but that you will notify the emergency services about the accident on the road giving description and details about what you see along with the location.  

2. Use of force scenario questions 

This type of questions aims to check whether you understand how much force you are allowed to use while doing your job. This includes using your gun or other weapons that you are equipped with. A possible question in this area might be: 

You are driving alone when you see a man grabbing a woman’s purse. They both engage in an argument and the man starts to strike the woman with his hands in order to get control of the purse. What would you do? 

Your best answer here is that you will get out of the car, identify yourself as a police officer. and order the man to stop the attack and release the purse and the woman. If he doesn’t obey, you will need to physically stop him but without using a gun unless he has a weapon. You may use a pepper spray or a baton, in case you are provided with any, to stop the attack. You need to arrest the man afterwards. You can also say that you will get on the radio and call for assistance prior to getting out of the car. Learn more with a Police Interview Prep Course.

3. Supervision scenario questions 

This type of questions aims to check whether you can deal properly with your supervisors and how you will react in situations of conflict between you and your supervisor. The questions in the section are similar to the one below:  

Your supervisor assigns special tasks to all of your co-workers but not to you. When the next assignment comes, she gives it to another police officer who has already participated in a similar task. What would you do? 

In this case, you need to approach your supervisor and ask her about the reason why you are not assigned a special task. It is possible that she might have simply overlooked you or there is a specific reason not to assign you with special tasks. You need to try and clarify the situation with your immediate supervisor and only if you do not get a satisfactory answer, you can get to the next level. 

Note that the supervisor is a woman. The question also aims to check whether you would react to the sex of the supervisor as some people have a problem taking orders from a woman. You shall make no comments about the sex of the supervisor.  

4. Integrity scenario questions 

This type of questions aims to check whether you can be honest and have strong moral principles that are required for the position of a police officer. A possible question covering an integrity scenario could be: 

You are investigating a store for possibly selling fake items such as bags, shoes, clothes copying a famous brand. While in the store, the owner offers to give you a discount voucher to use for yourself or your family for any future purchases. What would you do? 

In this case, you need to identify that the owner is possibly trying to bribe you. You shall refuse the voucher or any other gifts and note that the actions of the owner as this might be used against them at a later time. It is irrelevant whether the investigation will prove the store is selling fake goods or not. Still, even if the owner was not trying to bribe you but simply trying to be nice or to promote their business, you shall decline the present as inappropriate.  

5. Interaction with co-workers scenario questions 

This type of questions aims to check whether you can get along with your co-workers and what you are going to do in case there is a conflict in the team. A possible question can be as the one below: 

Due to excessive work on a given assignment, someone needs to work late hours. Everybody in the office has done their share of late shifts except for one person who is refusing to do so. This makes the burden unevenly distributed among you and your colleagues and you see that there is tension. What would you do? 

You may be tempted to stay out of trouble and answer that you won’t get involved or you will simply report the co-worker to your supervisor. This, however, is not the best answer to the question. In such situations, it is a good idea to talk to the person, possibly not alone but together with the rest of the police officers, and see why this person refuses to work late. There might be a very reasonable excuse. If the co-worker refuses to communicate with you and the problem cannot be resolved, then it is a good idea to report it to a supervisor.  

As you can see, the scenario-based questions can be quite different in nature as they aim to check your reactions in different situations typical for the life of a police officer. It is obvious that you cannot give the same answer as an experienced police officer. The interviewers want to see your common sense and genuine reactions in specific cases and whether how quickly you can make a decision and defend it.  

Having an idea of what type of questions you might be asked at the oral board interview will help you be more prepared and confident. Thus, it is a good idea to use an online prep course that can give you many tips besides the possible questions and answers. A good online prep course will teach you how to behave during the interview, and also what not to do.

Learn more about Passing the Police Interview.