How to Get a Job as a Police Officer: Six Steps to Take
If you are looking to become a police officer, you can improve your chances of getting a job in spite of the fact that it’s tough achieving so by presenting a formidable application.
Police officers serve communities where they live and work, enforce laws, obtain warrants, secure crime and accident scenes, write detailed reports and testify in court, and arrest and interview suspects, etc.
They respond to emergency calls and work shifts according to their schedule. See detail police officer job description.
To get a job as a police officer you need to meet certain standards which include possessing the necessary education, skills, knowledge, and experience. You need to also have a very good resume and well-written cover letters.
6 Steps to Get a Job Fast as a Police Officer
Here are six steps you can take to quickly secure a job as a police officer:
1. Prepare for the Job
To realize your dream of becoming a police officer starts with good preparation.
You should be ready to pass a law enforcement background check. So start by assessing your past behaviors and companies you kept to ensure that you don’t have any skeleton in your cupboard that may prevent you from getting the job.
You also need to be physically fit before you can work as a police officer, because you will undergo both physical abilities test and physical fitness assessment. The best way to prepare for both is to engage in exercises that will build up both your cardiovascular abilities and physical strength.
Avoid making too many simple mistakes on your law enforcement application, as this may disqualify you entirely. Make sure you read and fill out your application meticulously to ensure you don’t end up not being hired.
You need to give yourself time to study textbooks and read about law and its policies in order to be sure you know everything about the profession.
Walking into a police officer job takes hard work and preparation all the way through. But with true dedication and encouraging attitude, you will have a great and successful career.
It matters a lot to have some experience in a police officer job, and even the skills and knowledge necessary for the career. An internship program is a good place to acquire such knowledge and experience.
Qualities that Every Police Officer Should Have
Police officers need to have the following qualities, which you should strive to develop to make your chances of getting the job brighter:
- Sense of Humor: Police officers should understand the importance of having a good sense of humor while on duty. Experts have elaborated on how essential sense of humor can be to policing jobs.
- Empathy: Police officers should understand other people’s feelings and share those feelings too. This can lead to more positive interactions and communications between officers and the people they meet.
- Compassion: While empathy means understanding and sharing of feelings, compassion is to put that understanding into action. When police officers show compassion to individuals, they are building a rapport that will bring healing to dangerous and traumatic situations. Compassion helps a lot in the daily interactions of modern police officers.
- Adaptability: Police officers should be flexible and adaptable in their work. The social climate can change and technologies can evolve, leaving the officer with no choice than to adapt to the present situation. If they can expect, adapt, and overcome challenges, they will have the ability to provide authentic service to the community.
- Excellent Communication Skills: Police officers should be able to listen carefully to everybody they see at the crime or accident scene. They need to speak to other people politely, temporarily and confidently using amicable approach. This will help them deviate from believing first impressions of what happened at the scene.
- Honesty: Many criminals would like to bribe you as a police officer, tempting you to release them so they can go back to their crimes and thus making you to forget how you vowed to serve your Nation with honesty and integrity. Sometimes, officers try to protect corrupt co-workers even though they do not indulge in misconduct themselves. However, police officers should follow proper law enforcement protocol.
- Critical Thinking: This is the ability of police officers to easily and effectively evaluate facts, information, and observations for them to make right decisions at the appropriate time. When police officers have the ability to think critically, they can easily help members of the community solve problems and resolve issues.
- Conflict Resolving Skills: Police officers should be able to resolve conflicts peacefully and gracefully. Even if it is an argument, conflict, or any other invitation to take enforcement action, an officer should have the skills of resolving conflicts at the most appropriate time.
- Teamwork: Police officers need the ability to successfully perform their duties in a team environment, understanding the various roles of team members and the importance of combined efforts.
- Humility: Humility involves modesty and respect for others, and attraction of respect and trust from the public. Therefore, police officers should be humble and not brag about themselves. They should have confidence in themselves and not be boastful of their achievements, so as to achieve a common aim.
- Controlled Temper: Officers should have self-control and self-discipline to help them achieve greater confidence, competence, and emotional maturity. This is to solidify the fact that police officers who are unable to control their tempers are not well-suited to properly handle people in a wide array of circumstances. When citizens lose their temper, the officer in charge should be able to use amicable approach to resolve issues at the moment. If not, the two parties will clash and this may lead to undesirable result for both parties.
- Readiness to Learn: The police profession requires that officers stay abreast of the increasing knowledge base. The thirst for new knowledge enables police officers to catch up with the regular changes in law, police practices and tactics. Some departments make provision for certain level of in-service training for their officers. But officers need to seek out new knowledge on their own, and simply not depend on their departments to provide all their training and education. This will help them a lot to grow with the police agency.
2. Find Police Officers Jobs
When you are fully prepared for the police officer job and are ready to send in your application, you can find various positions to apply to from the various online job portals you can find online.
All you need to do is search for a police officer job on their search engine and then pick the ones that interest you from the list of various positions that come up on the search result page.
3. Apply for the Job
You have to be very careful when applying for police officer jobs so you don’t lose the opportunity of getting your dream job because of common errors you have made.
Make sure that your application is legible; read and follow all the instructions, and make your experience count. Also, ensure that you follow up on your application.
Your cover letter or application letter should be taken seriously as this is your first impression to make known your desire for the job.
It is best suggested to apply online to make sure your application letter gets to the appropriate person. This will help you also to prevent wrinkles, tears, or spills from staining the letter as is common with physical application. This often occurs when the application letter is on its way to its final destination.
Include your work experience in your cover letter to meet the standard set by the State Post and Training Commission. Other requirements include education and military service.
You should be able to articulate how your experience relates to the job you are applying for. If an agency requires that a candidate must have 2 years of public contact work experience, then you must demonstrate how you can use that experience in your new position.
You need to complete the job application accurately, neatly and thoroughly to help you get a good start on your law enforcement career.
The job application is your first chance to tell your prospective employer who you are and what you are capable of offering.
Don’t be in a rush to fill out the application, but make it neat and readable. Follow directions and include your best qualities.
4. Prepare for Pre-employment Assessment Tests
One of the requirements of enrolling in a police academy is to take a written basic abilities test. The test quantifies your reading comprehension, logic reasoning and problem-solving abilities.
They just want to be sure you have what it takes to successfully complete your academy training. The test is not too difficult, but it would help to look over the sample questions and test overview that will be probably provided to you after registering for the test.
The Physical Assessment for law enforcement is another test that determines how physically fit you are. Combination of physical fitness and healthy lifestyle will reduce a lot of stress that accompanies the job, and lessen potential threats.
Many departments require their applicants to undertake a polygraph exam to determine their truthfulness level. Polygraph confirms the information that the candidate provides in the supplemental application.
The applicant is then given the opportunity to discuss his/her answers with the polygraph examiner. After the questioning, the applicant is tied up to the polygraph instrument and asked a series of “yes” or “no” questions with the intention of identifying truth or dishonesty.
Passing the polygraph has to do with more than just being honest. Passing the polygraph won’t solve the problem of having skeletons in your closet (if you do), because if you are caught to have been dishonest at any stage of the process, you will miss every chance of getting hired.
You will need to pass the Psychological Exam for Police Officers if the agency requires it. Those that take this exam think about it as an important part of the overall hiring process. The psychological assessment determines your suitability for the job of a police officer and does not determine one’s sanity.
The Medical Physical Exam is another essential exam that those looking for a police officer job need to take to be examined by a doctor to ensure you are not only physically fit enough to do the job but physically sound also.
The medical assessment makes sure your heart, lungs, and body are ready for the task. Additionally, you will most likely be required to take a separate eye exam to check for color blindness, perception, and overall sight. It is generally anticipated that your sight be correctable to 20/30 or even better.
You will then have to take the police academy program, which consists of several weeks and even months of specialized training in areas such as defensive tactics, firearms, report writing, law and legal concepts, first aid, and criminal and crime scene investigation. You need to stay in good shape during the hiring process in your academy training.
Another program you need to pass is the field training. It is here you will find out whether police job is for you or not, and your department will find out if you are truly right for the job.
Learning about what it’s really like to work on the street is part of field training. During the training, you will be evaluated on every aspect of the job, from observance of officer safety to investigative abilities, and more.
After you have finished field training, you will be required to go real on-the-job training patrolling the streets on your own. Learn about pre-employment tests for a police officer.
5. Prepare for Interview –Major Important Police Officer Interview Questions and Answers
Before any law enforcement agency will make the final selection of police officers to work with, they would like to engage their candidates in a personal interview. A lot of police departments term this the Oral Board because it involves more than one interviewer.
Remember you need to get prepared for the interview in order to have the opportunity of getting hired. If you neglect the importance of interview preparation, you might break your final acceptance, instead of making it up.
The personal interview is to test a candidate’s verbal skills, and to get an idea of the candidate’s general reasoning abilities and common sense. The first impression you leave with the board members matters, as it will be essentially needed to determine your final ranking on the eligibility list.
Some agencies carry out personal interview at home, but it is usually held at department headquarters. There is normally a group of officers, lieutenants, sergeants, captains, and a member of business community or a member of human resources.
You need to first learn as much as possible about the organization that is about to hire you. Visit the agency website and get a feel of the community, news and events, and agency departments.
Get a copy of the annual report that contains information about the crime statistics, budgets, calls for service, arrests made, etc. to learn more about the agency.
The agency website should give you clues about criminal investigations, crime analysis, community law enforcement policy, traffic enforcement, dispatch center, and traffic safety program, etc.
Speak with department members and get knowledge from them about typical day, swing, shift, and types of calls for service they encounter most frequently? Is the city mostly residential with many businesses or combination of both?
It is essential to also know the number of hot-spots, banks, and schools in the area and the diversity of the department. When you know all these things or even some, you will widen your points of reference when answering oral board questions.
The following questions are what you are likely going to meet during a police officer interview session:
- Why did you choose a police officer profession? If a lot of benefits that are attached to police work are what attracted you to the job, just say it. There must be something that instigated you to look for police officer job. You may attribute your reason for choosing this profession to the desire you have been keeping since your youth to make your community a safer place to dwell in.
- Do you have any qualifications? Talk about your academic qualifications and any similar experience you’ve had along the line; or any hobby that is related to some divisions of the police force. If you could be honest and brief with your answers, you can make a more valuable employee.
- Tell us about different levels that an officer must keep in mind while interacting with a criminal. The interviewee must have studied all the seven stages of action points and should recite them freely.
- Do you have any police record? This question is thrown at you for second verification. You should be honest and explain why if you have any, and how you have changed, or probably were not actually at fault. However, most times having a record leads to automatic disqualification.
- What faults do you notice in the police officer job? You should give specific examples for you to seem credible. Make your example to be unintentional, and there should be a lesson to learn. You can direct your example to the risky act of moving ahead without group assistance while assigned to a group project meant to be collaborative.
- What challenges are you looking for in this police officer job? The best approach towards answering the question about the challenges you are expecting is to talk about how you would like to effectively make use of your skills and experience if you were hired for the job. You can further declare how you love to meet challenges, and how you can use your flexibility and skills necessary to handle a challenging job. You can describe certain examples of challenges you have met and goals you have achieved in the past.
- What is your biggest weakness? When answering this question, think of a very small flaw like “I occasionally get distracted by small matters” or “I sometimes do not tolerate unusual acts of subordinates or coworkers who fail to understand my ideas”. Don’t give an answer that will personify the ugly side of your career right in front of the employer, but make your weaknesses to be minor. And you should let the interviewer know that you are aware of your weaknesses and you are working towards correcting it by taking a course of action.
- Why should we hire you to take the police officer position? This situation demands that you connect your experience, skills, personality and education to the job. There is need for you to get familiar with the job descriptions and the traditions of the police department to enable you answer the question well. You need to back your answer up with real examples of perhaps how you are a good team player. And then portray yourself as that energetic, motivated and confident person who will always stand for the department despite what the situation may be.
- Did the salary we offer attract you to this police officer job? The salary should not be the main reason for your interest in the job. The question is best answered by saying, “The salary was very attractive, but the job itself attracted me more”. Thus, the employer would not think that salary is the main reason you came to them.
- Do you have any questions for us? Any question you have for the interviewers should be about the department to show how early you can make a contribution to your organization. An answer like this can go, “Sir, I would like to have my feedback, so that I can evaluate and develop my strengths and correct my weaknesses.”
- What do you know about our department? If you really want to do well during this interview segment, you need to visit the department’s website and look in the “about us” and “careers” sections. Look for other means you can find information about the department. Include in your answer how long the company has been in business, what the company’s mission statement or tradition is like, and how the department mission or tradition relates to your personality or values.
6. Follow up
After the interview, it is important to send a thank you note to the hiring team, but make it short and polite. You can mention something discussed in the interview that mostly excited you, or you forgot to say. And then give a snap review of why you are a good fit for the position.
The thank you note that you send after an interview should preferably be sent within 24 hours of the contact. The next one should be sent when you don’t hear back after a few days or a week.
When writing your follow up email, don’t forget to say “thank you” in your note, and provide a few details about what happened. You could say, “I submitted my application for the police officer position earlier this month.” Then summarize quickly the skills, qualities, and experience that you are bringing to the position.
A follow up note can be used to fix problems of what you forgot to include in your application or say during the interview. You can also use the opportunity to build a relationship with the recruiters and improve your chances of being hired.
You may not be as skillful, experienced, or qualified as other candidates for the police officer job, but by adequate preparation, you can give your application a greater chance of succeeding.
The content of this post will help you to make a more impactful application for the police officer job and increase your chances of getting it.
Did you find this post helpful in getting a police officer job easier and faster? Please, leave your comment on this article in the box below. You can also share how you got your job if you work as a police officer.