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.