a police officer standing in a street

How to Become a Competitive Police Applicant

If being a city or county police officer is your ideal career, you must physically and mentally prepare for more than an application and interview. Agencies administer various examinations and interviews to reduce the pool of police officer applicants. This helps them identify the most qualified applicants. The top selected applicants will then be hired.

Preparation For The Police Exam

As this police test can be lengthy and entail numerous parts, it’s vital to understand, anticipate, and adequately prepare for each part. You also need to be aware of potential disqualifiers that might create a hindrance in you getting your dream job. Before delving into the specifics of the application and interviewing processes, here are certain things that make you a competitive applicant.

Important Traits to Cultivate

The 5-Is methodology makes you stand out from the rest. These are intellect, impact, integrity, initiative, and industry. A police agency wants officers that are hardworking, clever, dedicated, can work with a variety of individuals, and will not break ethical boundaries.

The capacity to deal with stress is also essential for anyone interested in working as a police officer. Enrolling in programs that give you a hands-on experience in police duties will help you get a leg up on your competitors.

people sitting in a class learning about police duties

Primary Requirements Of Your Desired Department

Every department has its own strategy for hiring new personnel. As a result, you must investigate the basic requirements of your desired agency. You will become familiar with the application and recruitment processes, as well as their duration. That can last from a few weeks to half a year.

The most common qualifications for a police officer applicant are that they need to be an American citizen at least 21 years old but shouldn’t be older than 37. They shouldn’t have a criminal record. They should have a valid driver’s license.

Nevertheless, every department could have its own set of requirements.

Common Disqualifiers

There are specific instances or aspects of your background that could automatically disqualify you from this civil service job. All felony charges are included in this—such as past drug dependence, dishonorable military discharges, criminal behavior, drug misuse, deferred adjudication, and gang involvement. If you have a past of reckless driving, receiving too many traffic tickets, or executing a misdemeanor, you couldn’t be eligible to work as a law enforcement officer.

Certain “harmless” things, like tattoos, could be a problem with some departments. There may still be certain limitations, despite the fact that today most police departments allow personnel with tattoos. As a general rule, there shouldn’t be any face or neck tattoos. Also, they shouldn’t be profane or racist.

You may be asked to wear long sleeves during the entire year to cover them. If it isn’t specifically stated in the job advertisement, it’s wise to look into this before beginning the application process because certain departments have tighter regulations than others.

Steps Of The Application And Hiring Process Of This Civil Service Job

The typical steps taken by most departments when hiring for police posts are listed below. Candidates will undergo each phase, and those who don’t fit the criteria won’t be considered. People who make it through will have their evaluations based on their performance in the application’s scored sections.

To enhance your likelihood of being employed, you must have a thorough and exact knowledge of the procedure. Additionally, if any of the stages are not properly followed, the candidate will not be taken into consideration:

  • Job Notice: The notice is meant to draw in the best prospects. Also, it lets potential candidates know what qualifications are required for the positions. This ensures that people who satisfy the minimum requirements seek employment.
  • Application Package: The purpose of the application package is to gather all required documentation from the candidate so that the basic requirements can be met.
  • Resume/Cover Letter: Writing skill is essential for every law enforcement position. The applicant’s writing skills are evaluated through the cover letter and résumé.
  • Police Test: All candidates are required to take a standardized police exam. This written civil service exam can be graded numerically or as a pass/fail. To move further in the employment process, you must successfully pass the police department’s exam with the help of some exam prep.
  • Oral Board Examination: After the civil service test, you will have to pass the oral board examination. The candidate is asked a number of questions by a panel of a minimum of three representatives from their own and different departments and the community. You have the option of using a numerical scale or a pass/fail rating system for the grading.

Students studying for the exam 

  • Physical Agility Assessment: The only goal of this testis to ascertain whether candidates possess the physical skills necessary to carry out the job’s demands. Not all departments administer a physical endurance test, and those that do will grade it on a pass/fail basis.


a candidate climbing a wall


  • Background Checks: A background check will be conducted on candidates who advance through the rigorous recruiting process. This is done to verify the accuracy of all the data provided throughout the application procedure and to check for any “disqualifiers” that might invalidate an applicant.
  • Medical Tests: Several departments will require all job candidates to pass a medical exam. The medical exam aims to assess whether the applicant is physically ready for duty or whether they have any medical conditions that would prevent them from executing necessary activities.

Enroll In Suffolk County Exam Prep Classes

Candidates who do not seek career counseling for civil service exams frequently miss out on expert assistance that makes them worthy police applicants. That’s where we can help you out! Here at Civil Service Success, we provide appropriate education to applicants by giving extensive seminars designed to help them get their dream job.

With 45 years of experience under our belt, we offer complete exam guidance for Sanitation worker exams, NYS court officer exams, Suffolk County police exams, etc. Register today!

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