The hiring process acts as a measure and opportunity for police departments to make well-informed decisions regarding the suitability of candidates to become Police Officers (Watson, 2010). The process begins with the applications, where eligibility requirements determine who should apply and who should not. At the entry level, an applicant must be a high school graduate or possess a 12th grade G.E.D. certificate. He or she must also be a U.S. Citizen or a permanent alien, and must be at least 20-and-a-half years old at the appointment time, and who possesses a valid Driver’s License for the state in which they live (Watson, 2010; National City Police Department, 2016). The hiring process involves: written examination; physical agility test; oral interview

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Written Examination
Candidates must first pass a written exam at the entry level. This examination generally measures aptitude of the candidates and to determine if one can perform their duties as police officers. Those who pass the written exam move on to the physical agility test (Watson, 2010).

Physical Agility Test
This test aims to determine the ability of a candidate to handle physical stress such as they are likely to encounter in the course of performing their duties as police officers. This test involves obstacle course or agility run consisting of sharp turns, curb height obstacles, etc. It also involves lifting and dragging a lifelike dummy weighing 165 pounds; running to and climbing over chain link and solid fences, etc. (Watson, 2010).

Oral Interview
There is also an oral interview, whose purpose is to measure the suitability of the candidate for the role of police officer. It measures, among others, communication skills, life experiences (as it relates to the job), and professional qualifications. The criteria for evaluation covers: training and experience; interpersonal skills; oral communication; work habits; decision-making and problem-solving skills; as well as interests, motivation and values (Watson, 2010).

Background Check/Investigation
Those who make through the oral interview stage face background investigation. This involves the recording of fingerprints, the signing of various forms and waivers, and a completely confidential pre-investigative questionnaire (which contains about 293 questions on the various factors relating to one’s potential suitability for the police officer role). These include education, criminal or legal history, military history, financial history, etc. (Watson, 2010).

Medical Examination
From the background investigation process, a candidate goes trough medical examination by a physician and psychologist appointed by the City (Watson, 2010).

Academy Training
Those who successful go through the stages above are given the go-ahead to attend academy training, where they get skills, practical training as well as discipline in preparation for a law enforcement career (Watson, 2010).

  • National City Police Department (2016). Police Officer hiring process. Retrieved 18 February 2016,
  • Watson, H. (2010). Police Officer recruitment and selection procedure, March 17. Retrieved 18 February 2016,