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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
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Why Wouldn't They Hire Me?

If you keep getting turned down, look into your past.

April 02, 2008  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

A young lad phoned me the other day seeking advice on his law enforcement employment quest. He had not applied to my department, so there was no problem with our talking. He was bemused over not getting hired time after time. I had to ask him several questions and direct him to certain points. Let's look at a few.

First of all, be honest with yourself. Would you hire yourself? If you look into the mirror and have to make excuses for you to yourself—get real! I never found out what this young man's issues were, but let's look at common reasons why chiefs and sheriffs don't hire certain applicants.

Test scores that hover near room temperature are a start. If you have to take a civil service or any sort of entrance test, prepare yourself before you take the test. No, you will not be "miracled" through this, and doing average does not cut it. You are competing against others; every point counts. Study and prepare.

Bad oral interviews will derail the best of young candidates. Find a book to prep with or seek a seasoned officer and practice interviewing. Interviewing can be a nervous time; it can be overcome with practice. Watch what you say here.

When I was in Savannah, I chaired a candidates' interview board. We had a pat question: Why do you want to be a police officer? All we want to hear is that you want to help the community, are willing to work and you care…boiler plate stuff here. Oh no, this one sterling lad stated he was ready to give his life for the city. He worried us, a lot, and he did not get past us.

Double check your application. Errors and omissions on the application can mean an early exit from the process. If you put something on that application it had better be the gospel truth. If there is one falsehood or error, you are toast.

References are another issue altogether. A good background investigator will ask a reference to name two or three people who know you. These may not be the ones you want us talking to, so be sure of who you put down. Please tell your references that they may be getting a call. If by chance they do not want to be your reference this will be a warning light.

Youthful indiscretions will get you every time. Face it, if you have a criminal, some juvenile and/or traffic records, don't waste your time. You may talk to the recruiter and ask if they are going to eliminate you. Don't even think of lying or omitting pertinent information. Police investigators are like small town priests; they will find out your sins sooner or later.

Use of recreation chemicals is a curious point nowadays. In the past, one admission of youthful experimentation and you were eliminated. Today, there is some "easing up" on the level and time of usage. Check around on the restrictions if you have tried it once.

Credit history is a point of interest as well. No chief wants a young officer who owes or has been assigned bad credit. A good credit history is a mark of integrity. If you have a credit problem, fix it before applying for the job.

There are several more items such as lack of education for departments that require a college diploma. The answer here is going back to school. But the most important thing I can tell you is to fully read and fully understand the job announcement. Often it will state the need for pre-certified officers or residency requirements. Read, comply, and educate yourself first. The time you could be wasting is yours.


Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

JCox @ 4/7/2008 5:47 PM

This was a very good article. I applied several times to a local city agency and was denied employment everytime I applied. The first time, I have no idea why. The Second time, I know why and I don't mind telling you so that it will possibly help someone else in the future. I had a Target Credit Card and paid my bill on time, every time. One day I went to Target to purchase some items and thought " while I'm here, I'll make my payment." So I did. My payment was $36. Paid it in cash at the customer service desk and received my receipt. I went on about my business for a couple of weeks until I received a letter from Target stating that my payment was overdue. I knew not so I called them. They bascially in a nut shell told me that my payment had not been posted. I told them that I had made it but was unable to provide the receipt. I was hard headed and I let $36 mess my credit up. When I applied and then denied, they told me they couldn't tell me why but when I mentioned that I had finally taken care of that IF that was it, they told me to bring the statement to them and they would look at it. SO, that WAS it but I still didn't get hired. Basically, don't let credit ruin your opportunity especially over a small amount.

blang311 @ 4/8/2008 7:18 AM

Another big reason young officers don't get hired is the way they dress for the interview. A t-shirt and jeans for your formal interview in an insult to me and means instant elimination.

Louis Dirker @ 4/10/2008 10:15 AM

The number one reason that most candidtes fail our selection process is that they never make it past the phyical fitness test. We started administering this test first since so many people fail it. We send the requirements out several weeks in advance and applicants still come in "cold" to try to pass the Cooper Protocols. Backgrounds take their toll, but the psychological profile defeats quite a few also.

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