Police Promote
Oral Interview Dynamics

The Preparatory Path to Promotion

By Andy Borrello

Preparatory Efforts for Your Promotional Oral Interview

This is a very basic, but good list for when and how to prepare for your police promotional oral interview. Know that the more time you give yourself for preparation, the better. Know that if you prepare one month before the testing process and your competition starts six months before the test, you are at an extreme disadvantage. Enjoy this guiding information and test well!!

One Year Out

Attend any training classes/seminars you have identified that may contribute to your promotional preparation. Consider these efforts as knowledge and resume building. Seek out live or video training in the oral interview, written test taking, communication skills/public speaking, or assessment center testing. Courses to consider might include leadership, ethics, supervision, risk management, decision making, interpersonal communication, or procedural justice/21st century policing. Also, purchase four carefully selected books (Covey, Maxwell, Goldsmith, Robbins, etc.) and read one book every two months for the following eight months. You may also consider getting the audio-version of the book and listening to it during your commute to and from work, while you exercise, or in relaxation. Consider attending my full-day small group promotional consultation. These training consultations are personal, intense and fun, and cover the promotional oral interview wholly.

Four Months Out

All your materials, books, articles, web site addresses, videos, and preparatory items should be gathered, organized, and ready. You should have a well selected short list of ranking people/experts you want to interview with your questions already thought out and written down. A list of “must-study” issues should be made (leadership (styles), discipline, risk management, supervision, management, community policing, policy, tactics, problem-solving, ethics, case law updates, etc.). Start reading, highlighting, and studying all your materials, to the extent you are able, while maintaining a normal life and good relationships. Lastly, establish a comprehensive list of contemporary, common, or past interview questions for you to practice with.

Three Months Out

As your learning, absorption of information, and your memorization continues, it’s time to start practicing answering interview questions. Try doing this as often as you can without letting it overwhelm your life. A mock oral interview with one or more people (study group, friend, or spouse) on the other side of the table is best. Digitally record your answers with your smart phone, play them back, and do this over and over until you don’t sound horrible to yourself. Video record yourself with your smart phone or talk in front of a mirror. Talk out loud while you answer question when you are driving. Mix up your practice and it will give you verbal dexterity. Go into the room where the interviews will be conducted when nobody is there and sit in the seats and become comfortably familiar with the surroundings, chairs, and table. Go over your opening and closing statements in this room so as you practice at home, the memory of being in that room is vivid. Always, always, always practice answering OUT LOUD! Turn your though into talk.

Two Months Out

Your professional resume should be completed, grammatically flawless, conservative, but impactful, and aesthetically sound. If you are going to wear a suit and are going to buy a new one…go get it. If you will be wearing a class “A” uniform, make sure it is in perfect condition or new and it fits. You’re studying and reading continues and your practice (out loud) continues, but slightly increases. If possible, try to do at least one good mock oral per week. Conduct your interview with the experts, ranking member, or gurus you have selected.

One Month Out

Plan a couple (at least one) comp days or holidays off if you can each week and devote that entire day (8 hours) to dedicated study and practice. Your studying will be winding down as your practice begins to take over. Use little cheat sheets if needed to help verbally get out your answers, but use them as little as possible until you reach that magic point when you don’t need anything to look at anymore. Watch videos of some incredible public speakers and study what makes them dynamic and watch motivational videos that get you pumped up, inspired, and make you feel good. When you are at work, try to look at everything through the eyes of the rank you are testing for. Mentally become that ranking person. Try to take a vacation during the week of your interview or at least a few vacation days prior to your interview.

Two Weeks Out

Ensure that you are thinking big picture…globally so this broad view extends into your answers. It’s time to get your nice conservative haircut. Exercise or stretch as much as possible to make sure your body feels good. Get good nights of sleep these last two weeks and stay continually hydrated. Practice out loud daily with light reviews of materials, but these are not cram sessions. Sit down with a friend, study partner, or trusted other and explain to them what the role and responsibilities of the position you are testing for are. Tell them in a conversational manner how you will lead your team; how you will motivate your staff, or about a weakness you had and how you overcame it. Make these stories and presented in a smooth and articulate manner. Ensure you breathe when you talk and that you have clear and deliberate enunciation. Make sure the tone of your voice is not monotone…speak like a human; naturally and know that moderate anxiety is perfectly normal.

Twenty-four Hours Out

The night before, it’s okay to think about your interview, but practice is over. Get a good workout or stretch, do or watch something that makes you laugh, eat your favorite food, hangout with those who love/support you, and get a good night’s sleep. Your suit and everything you need for tomorrow is all laid out and ready to go. The car is already filled with gas. Eat a good breakfast to get some energy into your bloodstream and drink plenty of water. As you drive to work or the interview location, crank up your favorite music that gets you in the zone. Example: For Rocky, it was Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Mine is Kashmir by Led Zeppelin. Sing to the music and fully clear your throat out and get it warmed up, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your first spoken words of the day to be at your interview. Prior to entering the interview room, relax, center yourself, and know that you are ready and there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.