Would You Give Your Mother a Speeding Ticket? Police Oral Board Question – 2015 Update

A very common entry level police interview question, potentially worded a thousand different ways, but ultimately the question is, would you give your mother a speeding ticket.

We’ll look at my oral board interview answer response to this question and when the question is wrapped up, I’ll share a few closing thoughts.

Panel: Mr. Ehlers, you’re running radar and you pull a car over for going 15 miles over the posted speed limit. When you walk up to the car it happens to be your mother. It turns out she borrowed a car from the neighbor and was on her way to the grocery store. Tell us how you’d handle this situation.

Candidate: Very briefly, I might kindly admonish her for speeding, I may even tease her a bit. My contact with her would be very brief at the scene of this stop. I might even go so far as to ask her to promise she would not speed through my district again, and in short order I’d let her go on her way with a verbal warning. I certainly would not give my mother a ticket. I would end my contact very quickly and go about my business.

Panel Challenge: Let’s say you’d given the person before her a ticket for 15 miles per hour over the limit. You just gave someone else a ticket, how can you justify not giving her a citation for speeding?

Candidate: I do understand that the insinuation is that I must be fair and even handed in my enforcement of the law, and I will be. I will also acknowledge that I carry the responsibility of officer discretion and I will use that even handedly as well. With that said, knowing that I can give most any motorist a verbal warning, I would opt to extend that discretion to my mother. As much as I would like to give you the perfect answer to this question, if there is one, it’s my desire and obligation to give you an honest answer. I’d be lying if I told you that I would give her a ticket for speeding. I’d extend that courtesy to anyone that changed my diapers for the first two years of my life. I’m simply being honest with you.

Chief Ehlers: Now, be careful with humor in your oral interview, but if you’ve developed a good rapport with the panel, and they’ve smiled a few times, this is the perfect opportunity to inject a bit of humor into your interview. If, on the other hand, your panel is made up of stuffed shirts that haven’t smiled at all, dispense with any notion of making the diaper comment. The important note that you hit in this answer, is the fact that you told them it was your desire and OBLIGATION to be honest with them. The panel knows that only one in a million cops would truly give their own mother a speeding ticket, and quite frankly, they’re just looking for honesty.

When you were challenged, you made an almost inarguable statement, and that had to do with officer discretion, and you simply used that discretion on this traffic stop. Again, you justified your response in a very simply manner, one that they can relate to. They’re just looking to see if you’re going to be honest and let’s face it, there are only two types of candidates that would say they’d give their mom a ticket. The super trooper, save the world kind of applicant, or the dishonest applicant, neither of which they want to hire for their agency. Oh, then there’s the applicant that just hates his or her mother, they don’t want to hire them either.

I’ll first note the fact that some candidates, when they enter the interview room, forget two things. They often forget that officer discretion is a tool that can be used to reasonably answer a number of scenario based, or even personal questions.

In the case of this answer, it is reasonable to believe that most officers wouldn’t give their mother a ticket. The second interview attribute that many candidates don’t bring into their interview, is honesty.

The majority of oral board panel members will suspect that you’re lying, if you tell them you would give your mother a citation for speeding, even if you really would.

This question is designed to size up your ability to be forthright and candid with the panel. You’ll note, I even added a bit of humor in my answer, with the diaper comment. Appropriate humor, strategically placed in an interview is a magnificent tool that you can use to win the affection of the panel members.

Passing an oral board isn’t as much of a science, as it is an art. Earn Your Badge isn’t about just passing your oral board, it’s about getting hired.

At EarnYourBadge.com I’ve put together a free video series that I’ll deliver to your inboxes automatically over the next few days that WILL help you land your ultimate job in law enforcement.

Go to Earn Your Badge right now and let’s get started.


Officer Down, Shots Fired – Dynamic Oral Board Question – 2015 Update

There’s a tactic used by some oral board interview panels, and that approach is to provide a high stress question or series of questions designed with one purpose, to stress you out as much as possible.

This type of question almost always involved several interruptions and challenges. You’ll find, in the answer to a question of this nature, that your focus is provide a reasonable answer, and to just roll with the challenges as smoothly and articulately as you can.

Panel: Mr. Ehlers, you’re on patrol in your police car and the dispatcher notifies you of this. “We have an officer down with shots fired. They give you the address as well. What would you do?

Candidate: I would of course drop whatever I was doing and respond immediately red light and siren to the location given. I would continue to collect information from the dispatcher as I was in route and of course I would start planning my approach or how I was going to handle that call on the way there.

Panel: Okay. You just got a flat tire, now what?

Candidate: I would immediately radio to dispatch, let them know of my predicament.

Panel: You’re on a bridge and all form of communications are down, your radio isn’t working.

Candidate: I would get out immediately and change the tire as fast as I possibly could in order to get to the call.

Panel: The bridge is a steel grate bridge and you have the wheel off, all log nuts fell through the bridge. Now what?

Candidate: I would go to another tire and take lug nuts off of that tire and use those lug nuts to finish the tire. I know it’s not the most optimal situation but you can operate a vehicle with three lug nuts and that’s how I would tackle that issue.

Panel: The lug wrench that comes with the tool kit of the squad is of poor quality and all the other bolted on so tight you’re unable to get them off.

Candidate: I’m going to recap, I can’t call dispatch because my radio isn’t working, the lug nuts have fallen through the bridge and I can’t get the other lug nuts off. I would try my cell phone to call the dispatcher to let them know …

Panel: As I said you’re on a bridge in an area with no communications are working kind of a black zone, maybe there’s too much metal on the bridge, uncommunicatable.

Candidate: Okay. I’ve got a life and death situation with an officer down, shots fired, an officer needs assistance call. I don’t see that I have any other option. I would just simply have to drive on three tires and try to get to the call that way. I think that’s the best answer I can give you. I’ve done my best to get to that call and again if I had to drive with a flat tire, I would do it.

Panel: Okay. Thank you.

Candidate: You’re welcome.

Chief Russ: Now the one thing you didn’t say and you might be thinking this, I commandeer a vehicle. I’d stop a passer-by and take their car. I’d be very, very careful with ever, ever getting in a situation were you’re commandeering someone’s vehicle. It happens in the movies but I don’t know of any departments off the top off my head that have a vehicle commandeering policy.

You didn’t give that answer, and that’s a good thing. My guess is, you can see what was happening. The oral board panel member was giving you the scenario and was interrupting you. In this type of hyper stress questioning, they’re not necessarily looking for absolutely perfect answer, but rather, what they’re looking for is, can this candidate think quickly on their feet or, are they going to go into melt down.

Those are the two key factors in this type of questioning tactic. Personally I don’t use this type of tactic on an oral board, but many agencies do, and I know of one instance where a young man was getting fired at like this with these kind of super-fire questions. Again the oral board panel simply wants to see if you can think quickly, make reasonable decisions under high stress and that you don’t melt down.

Now, this candidate that I spoke of literally got up from his seat and told the panel, “I don’t want to work for a department like yours”, and he walked out. Now, you’re not going to do that, but you need to be prepared for the firing line and the manner in which you answered this question was perfect. Again, just remember to recap, be reasonable, try to answer quickly, don’t meltdown, give them good answers, and eventually they will move on, once they’re satisfied that you’re a good problem solver under what was meant to be, a very stressful situation.

Your Partner Steals a Candy Bar – Police Oral Board Question – 2015 Update

Learn the 7 Deadly Sins of the Police Oral Board Interview

One of the more common law enforcement oral board questions, your partner steals something.

Serving on countless oral board panels over the years, I’ve heard just about every answer a person can possibly offer to this type of question, from, I’d look the other way, to, I’d arrest my partner. Let’s watch the video and I’ll offer some closing thoughts.

Panel: Mr. Ehlers, let’s say you’re on foot patrol and you’re pulling doors. You happen to find a convenience store with the doors unlocked and you and your partner walk in and assessed the situation and find that everything’s okay and on your way out, you notice your partner grabbed a candy bar on the way out. What would you do?

Candidate: I would certainly challenge my partner. I would ask him if he paid for it or left money on the counter even though that’s unconventional, I would like to believe that my partner was honest enough to leave more than enough to cover the candy bar with tax. I’m guessing he didn’t leave money for it and of course, in that situation, I would have to bring that to the attention of one of my supervisors, sir, as soon as was practically possible.

Panel: Okay, let’s change this up a little bit. Let’s say, your partner is a veteran and he’s got one year left to retirement. You’re telling me you would ruin his entire career for an 99 cent candy bar? You would really do that?

Candidate: Yes, sir. I would take the approach that I indicated. I don’t mean to be argumentative but I guess this is hard, but I look at it like this. I didn’t ruin his career if it does get ruined, he did. I mean, we’re expected to be the cream of the crop and to uphold the laws and not violate them. I think the way I would look at this is that I didn’t ruin his career. He chose to take an item of value that he had no intention of paying for. This type of person, whether new on the job, or a seasoned veteran is obviously not interested in putting the best interest of the department in front. I believe this is a decision that’s better dealt with by a supervisor than a frontline officer so I’m certainly going to stick with my guns and say that I would talk to a supervisor. I believe in my heart of hearts that this is the right way to handle that situation, sir.

Chief Russ: So, you’ve answered the question, and received a challenge. You answered it and you justified your answer, showing the panel that there was no question in your mind, as to what the correct approach is. Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the Oral Board is probably going to challenge your answer, particularly when it comes to this type of scenario question. Hold your ground, give them a good answer, but don’t become argumentative with them. In fact, you even told the panel member, that you meant not to be argumentative but that you had to stick to your guns because you were quite sure this was a situation better handled by a supervisor– not a frontline officer. You must be willing to submit to the authority of supervisors, and you’re answer here qualified that belief.

There are hundreds of forms that this question may come in, but remember, when someone takes property that does not belong to them, it’s theft and a supervisor must deal with it.

The answer began with giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully he or she paid for it, but you didn’t dance around the bush on this one. You indicated almost immediately that you’d bring this matter to the attention of a supervisor.

Many candidates fear, not taking immediate law enforcement action and so, they indicate they’d arrest their partner. Once this officer is outed, by you, for stealing, the wheels of justice begin turning and they may in fact be charged with theft and will likely lose their career, a fate much greater than what a citizen would face for the same act, and rightfully so.

There is no room for a thief in the law enforcement profession, and the oral board panel knows this, they simply want to be certain, that you know it as well.

Visit EarnYourBadge.com, for more information on passing your oral board interview.

To your success, I’m Chief Russ.


Police Interview Question – Is Police Work Black and White?

Question: “Do you believe that police work is black and white?”

Answer: The law enforcement profession is without question, one of the most dynamic professions in our society. The decisions that officers are called upon to make are too abundant to number and the circumstances that we’re placed in are different, unusual and sometimes even bizarre. There are certainly occasions that the “black and white” rule applies.

One example would be the drunk driver that crashes his car into a light pole in a department store parking lot. He’s intoxicated, he’s had an accident and he’s going to jail. That’s pretty black and white, and most agencies have policy on the arrest of DUI suspects.

Conversely, an officer is called to a home by a mother who found a small amount of marijuana in her seventeen year old daughter’s dresser drawer. Mom wants the officer to counsel and give guidance to her child. The law allows the officer to arrest people in possession of illegal drugs, but that may not be the right approach, and so officer discretion comes in to play, and that certainly isn’t black and white.

I’m not going to charge in the home, handcuff the young girl and take her to jail, this is the black and white approach. Instead, this is my opportunity to connect with this young person, confiscate and inventory the marijuana, and to do my best to educate her on the ills of her behavior, letting her know what the consequences are of continue use of that substance.

Our job requires solid critical thinking skills and that’s one of the many reasons I’ve chosen this profession. Not everyone can effectively serve as a law enforcement officer. I believe I have those critical thinking skills and one of my attractions to this profession is the fact that we don’t have that “here’s how you do everything” textbook.

A good officer can manage this profession, an excellent officer not only manages, but excels in their environment. So, that’s my long answer to say that where there will be times that a situation may have a black and white element, overall, this is not a black and white profession.

Explanation: In essence, the oral panel wants to hear you say that there is some black and white, cut and dried elements of police work, but in totality, it’s NOT a B&W profession, but you can’t stop there. It’s very important that you tell them why it’s not, and the fact that there is no handbook on how to do everything, which really is the telltale indicator that LE is not B&W.

You gave them a brief example of how a situation might be perceived as B&W, the drunk driver having an accident, and the much more powerful example of why this profession isn’t black and white, the mother of the 17 girl that wanted a police officer to talk to her child about marijuana.

The candidate that indicates the opposite, (that LE is a black and white profession) is the candidate that is looked upon by the panel as being naïve, potentially hard-core and rather simple minded. They don’t want a black and white, letter of the law type of candidate, they want you to be reasonably flexible and to articulate your ability to think, critically. Work on this answer so it flows and sounds natural when you answer it, and by all means I encourage you to use different examples if you so choose.

Best wishes for an outstanding oral board interview! If you’d like to see more than 100 videos just like this one, and a whole lot more, visit Earn Your Badge.

To your success, I’m Chief Russ.