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Police Oral Board - Secret Weapon

Jul 4, 2008
It's a good idea to practice your oral board answers, but what tools can you use to do that--and what tools give you an edge?

A video camera is a great tool. You need to see how you look to other people. What better way is there to get a good look at yourself? How about standing in front of a mirror? Both of these tools help you check out how you appear to others, but both miss the most important aspect of your oral board answers: what you say and how you sound when you say it.

Only one tool can give you what you need when you practice: a hand-held tape recorder.

Think about it. The Oral board, you talking, and the officers on the board listening. That spotless police badge you want to wear hinges on you picking up a tape recorder and hearing what's going to come out of your mouth in that unbelievably important situation!
I was contacted by a coaching candidate recently. He had made it to some oral boards and one Chief's Oral, but had not been successful. Now, an invitation to the LAPD oral board had been offered, so he wanted to set up a private coaching session.

After a few moments of talking with him, I was aware of something critical that was probably missing in his previous preparations. I asked him if he used a tape recorder to practice. He hemmed and hawed and finally, like 99% of the candidates I interview, said, "Well, no. But, I'm thinking about it."
I told him to use a tape recorder to hear how he sounded. After trying this, he got the message: his answers were garbage.

Applicants want a badge so bad they will do nearly anything ethically and morally to get it; except to use the most effective preparation tool around.

For some reason, they don't get how valuable using a tape recorder is for practicing your answers. You can get your timing, inflection, and volume down pat; see where to cut material and how many uh's and duh's fill the pauses; and last, but not least, to see if you sound like Donald Duck's cousin.

To be successful at the Oral boards, you need to get married to your hand-held tape recorder. You need to hear what the Oral board members are going to hear. That little tape recorder will narrow the distance between you and the badge you want so badly!
The first thing a candidate says when he hears his voice on a tape recorder is always: 'That's not me!' Well, yessir, it is you. And if you want it to sound different, glue that hand held tape recorder to your palm and practice, practice, practice!
It's a guy thing.

Guys prepare for the Orals by thinking about their answers and then writing them down. For some reason, they think that because they wrote them down, their answers will magically come rolling out of their mouths in the Oral. But, trust me, they won't! Your brain and mouth just don't work that way.
If you want to prepare by writing something down, try this:

Write down your oral board questions on some 3x5 cards. You can use the Top 20 Asked Oral Board Questions found at PoliceExam911.com.

Practice your answers with the tape recorder.

Play back your recorded answers. If you hear something you don't like, write it down on the back of the 3x5 card with that question.

The next time you're ready to answer that question, turn the card over first to remind yourself what you don't want to say.
Let me tell you how critical this is. If you're not using a tape recorder to practice, practice, practice--rehearse, rehearse, rehearse--learning your material until it becomes second nature to you; you may as well not show up for your oral board.

If you do not spend serious time burning your presentation and your answers into your brain, you are wasting the oral board's time and your time! Stop the madness and seek out another career. One problem though, you have to interview for other jobs too.

The candidate above has already lost some great opportunities. Had he faithfully used a tape recorder to prepare for his oral boards, he might have already begun his police career.
Some candidates think that if they practice too much their answers will sound 'canned'. But, NO, it won't! Practice will make sure your answers are planned, complete, and as perfect as possible.

Practice makes permanent.

"Luck is preparation meeting opportunity." One practice session with a tape recorder is worth speaking something out loud 10 times. Practice gets you to a point where your answers sink into your subconscious, and that's where the magic begins. Practice won't let you be fooled.
I believe practicing with a tape recorder is so important that I will not coach a candidate if they aren't using one. It is a waste of my time and their money.

Believe me, your competition knows the value of using a tape recorder and they will fly past you, if you're not using one too.
After 22 years of police experience, here's what I know: to properly prepare to audition for the position of police officer, you must use a tape recorder.

Practice, practice, practice and you will have the power to catapult yourself into the Olympic Camp of law enforcement. You will have a great shot at the badge - and the chance to be one of the true American heroes.
So, instead of posting on bulletin boards to find out where others stand in the testing process for this city, or that county; ask yourself this question:

What am I doing to prepare for the most important part of the hiring process: the Oral board?

If your answer isn't the right answer, you may never pass the oral board, or score high enough on the list, to wear a badge. Never! Ever! 

So...where's your tape recorder...? 
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