The hiring process for a police officer is challenging and time consuming. Police departments take their time to ensure that the candidates they choose are qualified for the rigors of the job. They only want the best candidates who are trustworthy, honest, mentally and physically strong, and who possess the highest integrity. The process is broken down into 8 steps.
There is an application for employment that must be filled out to work for a police department. This application has basic demographic information, references, and background questions. The application can happen either before or after the exam, depending on which department you are applying to.
All applicants must complete a civil service exam. This can be a written test or done on the computer. This exam will test basic reading, writing, and math skills. In addition to the basic questions, many exams also have situational questions that deal with real police officer situations.
This is typically a timed obstacle course. It is designed to test your physical abilities, agility, and to see if you are capable of handling the basic requirements of the police academy. The test usually includes: push-ups, running, strength tests, sit-ups, and obstacles. Some departments give the physical fitness test immediately following the written exam.
After passing the written and physical fitness tests, candidates need to undergo a thorough background screening. This is intended to see if you have anything in your past that might disqualify you to serve as a police officer. You are typically assigned an investigator who will review your personal history of credit, employment, criminal and traffic citations, and military service if applicable. The investigator will typically contact your references, past employers, family, friends, and neighbors. Depending on the department, this can happen either before or immediately after the oral review.
During this stage, you will sit down with three police officers who will ask you general interview questions. They will also give you scenarios and gauge you on your responses to those scenarios. What they are looking for is your ability to perform under pressure, critical thinking skills, and your personal judgement. This is often seen as the make or break part of the application process.
All police officer candidates are required to take a polygraph exam. This is used to verify that you were completely truthful during the application process. This can be a stressful part of the hiring process, but it also means that you are nearing the end of the process. This is often one of the last steps before being invited to attend the police academy.
Applicants who make it through the oral interview will be asked to get a comprehensive medical examination. This is intended to ensure that you have the required physically fitness to handle the rigors of the job. The exam will look at you medical history, body mass, vision, hearing, and a drug test.
There are two parts to the psychological evaluation. The first is a psychological exam which will test your personality and general mental health. The second part is a face to face interview with a psychologist. Both parts are intended to determine your overall mental fitness and your ability to handle the stress that comes with being a police officer. Along with the polygraph and the physical, this evaluation is one of the last steps before attending the academy.