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12 Step Plan To Ace Your Interview For Police Chief, Part 3

12 Step Plan to Ace Your Interview for Police Chief, Part 3

The first seven steps in this process have helped you prepare for your interview, now it is time to execute.  If preparation is the key to success, execution is the door that must be opened.

To recap, Part 1 in this series can be accessed here.

Part 2 in this series can be accessed here.

The panel conducting the interviews has your resume, your application and have prepared a series of questions to help them make an assessment of you as a candidate for police chief.  Their goal is to identify motivated candidates who are competent and a good fit for the organization.

Let’s get started.

8.  Arrive Early

Arriving early should be a given.  Your one chance to make a good first impression can be shattered if you arrive late.  Yet candidates frequently arrive late.  How can this problem be avoided?

The first way is to set two alarm clocks rather than one.  Being late because your alarm clock didn’t go off is a lame excuse.  Make sure that doesn’t happen to you.  Set the alarm on your phone and back it up with a clock.

The second way is to set everything you need for the interview out the night before.  That way you don’t waste crucial time looking for something you need that can cause you to leave late.

I highly recommend scouting the route and location out ahead of time if you have never been there before.  Some locations may be difficult to locate or parking may be a problem.  It is a good idea to check out all the variables ahead of time.

Lastly, plan to arrive at least one hour early.  I have done this for each job interview I have participated in and it has served me well.  On one occasion, there was an extreme traffic jam and I arrived with only 15 minutes to spare.

I would rather be an hour early for an interview than a minute late. Click To Tweet

9.  Dress Professionally

I know.  Another given.  Still I have seen a candidate walk in to an interview with mud on his shoes so the issue is worth discussing.

Men should wear a dark suit with a conservative tie.  Ladies should wear something similar in a pants suit or dress.  There is no upside in wearing something flashy.  The outfit should blend in instead of stand out.

Oh, and don’t forget to shine your shoes.

Internal candidates may be tempted to wear their uniform.  In most cases, this should be avoided.  I believe wearing a suit instead of your uniform will send a subtle message about how serious you are taking the interview process.

10.  Decide What to Bring to the Interview

Carefully consider what you bring to your interview.  If you need it, bring it but if you don’t, leave it in the car or at home.

A breath mint can be helpful right before your interview to give you that fresh breath.  Make sure you are finished with the mint when you walk in for the interview.

Don’t chew gum.  That can be very distracting during an interview.

I recommend leaving your smartphone in the car.  However, if you just can’t do that, make sure it is on silent or better yet, turned off and leave it out of sight during the interview.  Don’t lay it on the table.

During most interviews, water will be provided.  However, I would bring a bottled water just in case.  The last thing you want during an interview is dry mouth.

Some candidates like to bring a portfolio with some notes in it to help remind them about a few key points they would like to make during the interview.  If you bring a portfolio for this purpose, avoid referring to it frequently during the interview.  That can be distracting and give the appearance you are not prepared.

I have never brought a portfolio or notepad into any of my interviews.  However, it is a personal choice for each candidate.

11.  Prepare 2-3 Questions to Ask

The majority of candidates do not capitalize on this important step.  Although some may ask about the next steps in the process, which is a good idea, few go further than this.

I highly recommend asking one question that will help you gain some insight into the expectations of the new police chief.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

What’s the most important task you want the new police chief to focus on?

What is the biggest challenge facing the department today?

In addition to a probing question, ask one that will demonstrate your knowledge about the department.

Here are a couple of examples.

I’ve noticed that Part 1 crime is up each year for the last three years.  What do you attribute the rise in crime to?

When do you expect to receive the manpower study being conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police?  

Obviously, the questions you ask will be dictated by your research.  And if you are an internal candidate, your questions will probably be different.

As mentioned previously, a question about next steps is a good way to end the interview.

What is the next step in the process?

Spend time really thinking about the questions you want to ask.  I am impressed by new police officer candidates who ask me questions during the interview process.  Very few do yet the questions asked make all the difference.

Finish your interview strong by asking some really good questions and you will leave on a positive note. Click To Tweet

12.  Follow Up After Interview

When you walk out of the interview, your work is not quite finished.  Take a few moments to jot down the questions you were asked.  You never know if you will need them later.

I would also make a note or two if I forgot something important in response to one of the questions I was asked.

Within the next day or two, send a short email of thanks to whoever your contact was for the interview.  Keep it nice and short and to the point.

If you failed to mention something important in response to a question, you might touch on the point briefly during your email.  However, be cautious about doing this.  Unless you believe the point can make a significance difference, just leave it out.

In some situations, a phone call might be the better option.  Only you can decide which one is best for you.

A lot of factors contribute toward the selection of a particular candidate for police chief.  Some of these factors are obvious like education level, experience and how well the candidate does during the interview.  Other factors are not so obvious.  Politics, having a candidate preference already and unknown biases are just a few examples of many factors in selecting a police chief out of your control.

If you have followed this 12-step plan, you have done everything possible to get ready for your interview.  You are prepared and you’ve executed your plan.  The outcome is out of your hands.

To help you track this 12-step plan to ace your interview, I have put together an Interview Preparation Checklist fillable PDF.

Fill out the form below to receive this free PDF.

Also, I hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts.  I would love to have your feedback or suggestions.


This Post Has 4 Comments
    1. Thanks, David. I was thinking of putting all three blog posts together as one PDF for convenience for those who want it. Do you think that would be a good idea?

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