Primer for Prospective Police Applicants

Requirements will differ from agency to agency and state to state, but these appear to be the most common.

The Application and Testing Process

Provided below is a brief description of the testing process used by many agencies.

Written Examination

Usually a test of basic reading comprehension and writing skills necessary to perform police tasks.

Polygraph Examination

Used to verify information provided on the initial application and personal history questionnaire.

Physical Examination

Used to eliminate applicants with medical conditions or limitations that would prevent them from safely performing police duties. Drug testing will probably be included in the exam.

Background Investigation

A check of the information you provided on the personal history questionnaire. It will include a check of your criminal history and driving record. May also include a check of your employment history, credit history, personal/business references and educational background.

Psychological Examination

Used to evaluate your psychological and emotional health as it relates to the position you are seeking.

Physical Agility Test

This test will include such events as:

Most of these events are timed.

Assessment Center

More departments are utilizing this form of "hands on" type of test. Assessment centers subject the applicant to a battery of job related reasoning and decision-making exercises. This procedure may also include group discussion exercises with other applicants and an oral interview. The applicant usually participates in most of these events before a panel of "assessors".

Oral Interview

Finally, there is usually an oral interview conducted as part of the assessment center, or before the department head, or both. You are certain to be asked questions such as: "Why do you want to be a police officer? or "Why do you feel you are more qualified than the other applicants to be a police officer?" or "Describe your strengths and your weaknesses." You may also be asked to give the interviewer(s) a short history of your background, etc. You could be asked to give your opinions on current events in the field of law enforcement.

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