The police oral board is something that weighs on the minds of police applicants every day. Not knowing what to expect is the worst. Combine that with the horror stories from other applicants, especially those that have failed, and one could have full-blown anxiety. I have the solution for you...preparation. It is the key to passing the oral board and it is easily obtainable.
One of the most asked about questions are the scenario questions. In a previous article, I mentioned that scenario questions are somewhat self-explanatory, and they give the interviewee a situation with a tough decision at the conclusion. What the board is looking for here is a peek at your decision-making abilities, judgment, and oral communication. It sounds intimidating, but there is a way to cut through each question and give a sound answer.
Let us look at a couple scenario questions and break them down so you can see what you are dealing with:
1) You have been out of the academy for several weeks. It is the beginning of your shift and you are assigned to a veteran Field Training Officer (F.T.O). While speaking to your training officer you notice the smell of alcohol on his breath. What do you do?
Breakdown- Consider this; the department needs to know you will do the right thing, the ethical thing, for not only the department but for the community at large. Think of the headlines if you and your training officer are involved in a critical incident or a traffic accident.
Challenge- You would turn in your F.T.O.? What if your F.T.O. loses his job? What about loyalty to your training officer? No matter what, you have the duty to report. Tough decisions come with police work, but in the end this should not be a tough one. You must confront and report.
2) You have been dispatched to take a burglary call at a residence with a large loss. When you are getting close to the burglary, you hear other units get dispatched to a medical call with an unresponsive subject lying in the street. You are only several blocks from each call. What do you do?
Breakdown- This can be broken down to a life vs. property question. Choosing life over property is a rule of thumb.
Challenge- But you were dispatched, you would disobey dispatch? The answer is yes. Rendering aid and possibly preserving the scene of a person crime outweighs a report call.
In today's law enforcement agencies, it is all about ethics, as it should be. Remember these tips when answering scenario questions. First, do not add extra facets or caveats to a question asked of you. Take the question at face value. Second, always take the ethical high road and you can't go wrong. Finally, as I have stated before, do not change a well thought out answer. Stick to your guns; or better yet, stick to your ethics.
The one common trait among successful police applicants is preparation. They have all been ready to face the first harrowing challenge on their way to becoming a law enforcement officer. Ask them all, and they will all say it was worth it. It was worth the investment, and it gave them a powerful advantage when taking on all the oral board threw at them. Prepare, and you will certainly win your badge.