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Frequently Asked Questions
Tips for Successful Interviewing
- Carefully read all the information provided in your notification. It is important to pay attention to detail throughout the hiring process.
- Make sure you know how to get to the site, even if that means visiting a day or two before the appointment to familiarize yourself with the area and find out where to park.
- Arrive early; if you are late you may not be allowed to interview.
- Dress in clean, well-pressed business attire.
- Show that you are interested and motivated, but remember that an overconfident attitude often backfires.
- Be yourself; don’t try to “out-think” the interview panel or try to answer as you think they expect.
- Remember that you are not expected to have any special knowledge of the law, or police processes; this will be taught later in the academy.
- Maintain good eye contact with each member of the panel.
- Avoid fidgeting or other nervous mannerisms; it can be distracting.
- Maintain good relaxed posture and be aware of body-language.
- Respond directly and specifically to questions; avoid vague and general statements.
- Nervousness often causes candidates to rush to answer questions. Be responsive, but take the necessary time to formulate what you want to say.
- Ask to have the question repeated if you didn't understand it the first time.
- Unless you are asked, don't engage in overly long speeches about your background and experience, unless it is relevant to the circumstances.
- Don't be embarrassed if you are nervous; the panel expects it. Try to focus on the questions and your answers, rather than how nervous you are.
- The panel may take notes; don't let this distract you.
- The panel members are trained not to give feedback during the interview; don't draw any conclusions from their poker faces.
- Remember that the panelists also want you to do well in the interview.
Q: How do I apply for the Police Officer Trainee position?
A: You can apply online by visiting http://agency.governmentjobs.com/oaklandca/default.cfm or you can go to the Department of Human Resources Management office at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 2nd floor to obtain a City of Oakland application.
Q: When is the next testing cycle?
A: Check the City of Oakland’s employment and opportunities web page at: http://agency.governmentjobs.com/oaklandca/default.cfm and review the Police Officer Trainee announcement for our next testing cycle.
Q: What is POST?
A: POST refers to the Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training. POST sets the minimum standards for all participating California agencies and academies. For more information, the POST website offers a wealth of information on issues regarding law enforcement job requirements, training standards, certification, etc. (http://www.post.ca.gov)
Q: Does the Oakland Police Department have its own academy?
A: Yes! It is one of the top-ranked academies in the state, and also trains officers for other local agencies. The academy location is on the 5th floor of the main Police Administration Building at 455 - 7th Street in Oakland. The Oakland Police Academy is not a live-in academy. Workdays and times will vary based on the training location and type.
Q: Am I paid while I am in the Police Academy?
A: Absolutely! You become a paid employee of the City of Oakland once you begin the Police Academy and will be paid at the current rate of a Police Officer Trainee at $4,960 monthly while in the academy.
Q: Will I be provided a housing allowance during the Academy?
A: No, but there are housing assistance programs available. The City of Oakland offers several mortgage assistance programs for low- and moderate-income, first-time homebuyers. Find out more at the Housing & Community Development Homebuyer Assistance page.
Q: How many people are typically placed into the Academy?
A: The Oakland Police Department has a typical goal of 40 – 55 candidates placed into an academy.
Q: What other stages are there in the hiring process?
A: More detailed information on the hiring process can be found under Selection Process. The hiring process consists of a written exam, physical ability test, oral board interview, several psychological suitability assessments, intensive background investigation, polygraph exam, if offered a conditional job offer, a medical examination and fingerprints. Applicants must successfully complete each phase of the selection process to continue in the hiring process.
Q: How long does the hiring process take?
A: The hiring process typically takes six to nine months to complete, although the exact time is subject to a variety of factors.
Q: Once I am hired by the Oakland Police Department, do I have to go directly to the Patrol Division or can I request assignment into a specialized unit?
A: Under our general orders, all officers must complete at least two years on patrol before requesting transfer into a specialized unit. This requirement can only be waived under very special circumstances and typically requires special skills and abilities that cannot be found in other officers who are eligible for transfer.
Q: What is the typical work schedule for Patrol Officers?
A: Patrol Officers typically work a modified 3/12 shift or 4/10.
Q: How are shifts and days off in the Patrol Division determined?
A: On an annual basis, all patrol officers draw their preferred shift, days off, squad and area assignments based on their seniority within the department.
Q: I have a certificate of completion from a POST Academy. Will I be required to go through the OPD Academy if I am hired?
A: Yes. Although you undoubtedly received excellent training at the academy you attended, the Oakland Police Department will still require Lateral Police Officers/Post Academy Graduates to complete an 8 weeks transitional course to be placed in a Lateral Police Officer position or a 24 week basic academy to be placed in a Police Officer Trainee position. This is to ensure that you have received the best training possible to make you successful as an officer within the city of Oakland.
Q: I am an out-of-state applicant. Does Oakland offer any type of accelerated or consolidated testing to minimize the number of trips I have to make?
A: No, OPD does not have the resources at this moment to offer an expedited process.
Q: How can I find out what my status of my application?
A: You can log into your online profile to check your status. This is the profile you created when you submitted your electronic employment application.
Q: How can I find out general information for the current testing cycle?
A: You can call the Public Safety Hotline at (510) 238-6465 for status updates. This number will be updated periodically through the current recruitment notifying you when exam results will be sent out.
Q: Where are the oral interviews held?
A: The location can change based on various factors, but typically they are held at the City of Oakland 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza or Eastmont Substation located at 2651 – 73rd Ave, Oakland, CA 94605.
Q: Can I select my Oral Interview appointment?
A: No. Due to the large number of applicants being scheduled, the DHRM is unable to allow individuals to select their own appointment. The date and time will be randomly assigned to qualified applicants.
Q: What if I can't make my appointment?
A: Due to the large number of applicants being scheduled, the City of Oakland, DHRM is rarely able to reschedule an appointment. You are strongly encouraged to make every effort to attend your scheduled interview. In the event that you are unable to attend your scheduled appointment, there is also the option of “standby”. We do typically have some last minute no-shows and will allow applicants to wait for an available interview slot. Standbys will be taken on a first come, first served basis however, there is no guarantee that we will be able to accommodate you.
Q: Should I arrive early for my interview?
A: You should arrive at least 10 – 15 minutes early so you have sufficient time to check-in for your appointment.
Q: What if I am late for my appointment?
A: If you are late, you may not be allowed to interview. Consider factors such as traffic, parking, and location familiarity when determining how much time to allow for travel. You should plan to arrive early and then spend any extra time you may have relaxing before your interview.
Q: What happens when I arrive at the interview site?
A: At the site, you will check-in and be given a name tag with a number; no applicant names will be used during the interview. You will then be randomly assigned to an interview panel and allowed to review the names of the people on your panel. In the event that your panel includes someone you know personally, you will be reassigned to a different panel. You will also be required to sign a confidentiality agreement stating you will not discuss the contents of the interview. Violation of this agreement is grounds for removal from the selection process. After check-in, you will be escorted to an interview room where you will wait outside the room until the panel is ready for you. The interview will last approximately 20 minutes. Once you are finished, you will go to the "check-in" area to return your name tag and retrieve any belongings you may have brought with you.
Q: What should I wear?
A: Applicants must dress in business attire (suits, slacks and shirts). Do not wear a uniform or other attire that identifies your current department affiliation, rank, years of service, etc.
Q: What should I bring with me?
A: The only item you are required to bring is your valid legal photographic identification (driver’s license, military ID, passport, etc.). You will not be allowed to take any materials or bags into the interview room or take notes during the interview. In addition, the oral board panelists are not allowed to accept resumes, transcripts, or any other materials. An area at check-in will be available for you to leave any belongings you may have, but you are encouraged to bring only necessary items.
Q: Who is on the panel?
A: The panel consists of three members: a sworn officer, a city employee and a civilian community member. All panelists have been selected based on their professional commitment and dedication to public safety and the community.
Q: What will the panelists ask me?
A: The Oral Board will ask a series of job-related questions intended to identify applicants who are most suitably qualified to continue in the selection process. The interviewers may also ask follow-up questions in order to clarify your responses. The oral examination is designed to evaluate job-related skills and abilities such as oral communication, problem solving and decision-making, ability to deal with people, and composure and tolerance. There is no single “correct” or “best” answer to each question. It is important that you be yourself, relax and don’t try to second-guess the interviewers. As you answer the question, remember that the board knows that you are not a Police Officer and that you may not know anything about the law or agency rules and regulations.
Q: When will I get the results of my interview?
A: You will be notified of your results by email or mail approximately three weeks after the interview. If you have not received your results the week before the next step in the recruiting process, you should call the Recruiting Unit at 510-238-3339 or the Public Safety Hotline at 510-238-6465.
Q: What is the passing score?
A: The passing score may vary based on a variety of factors, but typically applicants must pass the oral interview with a score of 70% or higher to advance in the hiring process.
Q: What happens if I don't pass the oral interview?
A: Applicants who do not achieve a passing score in the oral interview will not advance any further in the hiring process. However, candidates are welcome to reapply to the Oakland Police Department at a future hiring process. You will need to reapply by submitting a T-score waiver to verify that your POST exam score was taken within the last 12 month of the oral board interviews.
Q: Is there a waiting period before I can reapply?
A: There is a thirty (30) day waiting period from the time you took the last recruitment activity (written exam, oral interview or physical ability test) before you can re-apply
Q: If I complete all the stages, am I guaranteed a job?
A: The Oakland Police Department is seeking those applicants that are the best-qualified and most likely to be successful as an Oakland Police Officer. In considering an applicant, many factors are considered including: the applicant’s performance and demeanor during the hiring process; the applicant’s prior education, training, preparation, and commitment; the results of the background and psychological suitability assessment; and the needs of the City and the Police Department.
Physical Ability Test
Physical Ability Test
Q: How should I prepare for the Physical Ability Test?
A: Applicants should begin physically preparing in advance of the test and should also be training with the goal of eventually attending the Police Academy. Physical activities such as running, pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups should be incorporated into your physical training. A good core fitness level is more likely to ensure success during the Physical Ability Test. In addition to this training, you should attend a physical ability practice seminar. Check our Workshops page for future practice dates. Basic fitness goals for the start of the academy are:
- Run 1.5 miles in about 14.36 minutes
- Complete 28 pushups without resting
- Complete 35 sit-ups in one minute
Q: When will I get the results of my Physical Ability Test?
A: You will know immediately after completing the test how well you performed on the Physical Ability Test.
Q: Will I be notified of my scheduled P.O.S.T. written test appointment?
A: Once your employment application has been reviewed, you will receive an electronic response confirming the date and time of the selected test OR an opportunity to register for a test date.
Q: How do I prepare for the P.O.S.T. written exam?
A: For information on how to prepare for the P.O.S.T. written exam, please download the applicant preparation guide from the following link http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/poWrittenPracticeTest.pdf or attend a preparation workshop. Check our workshops page to sign up for our P.O.S.T test preparation workshop
Q: What is the highest score attainable for the P.O.S.T. written exam?
A: The highest possible T-score is 77.8. For more information on how T-scores are calculated, please visit the P.O.S.T. website at http://www.post.ca.gov.
Q: What is the passing score?
A: The T-score necessary to advance in the hiring process is 45 or higher.
Q: What should I wear to the written exam?
A: You will not be evaluated on your appearance. However, it is suggested that you wear business attire or clothing that is neat, clean, and comfortable.
Q: When will I receive my written exam results?
A: Results are typically mailed to applicants within 3 weeks from the last scheduled exam. Please do not call the Recruiting Unit or the DHRM for your results unless you have not received your letter the week before the scheduled Oral Interviews identified at the written examination.
Q: I have previously taken the P.O.S.T written exam and have a passing score, can I waive the written exam?
A: Applicants with a valid t-score of 45 or above must provide a letter, on agency letterhead, stating that individual has taken the P.O.S.T. test, date of the test AND t-score. Test dates older than one (1) year will not be accepted. Letter must be uploaded with your electronic application. Social Security numbers are required to confirm test scores with P.O.S.T. Test scores and test dates will be verified with P.O.S.T., those candidates who are successful in waiving the written test will be notified and scheduled for the next step. Those who are not successful in waiving the examination will be notified and scheduled for the written exam.
Q: I took the P.O.S.T. test with another agency within the last thirty (30) days. Can I re-take the test P.O.S.T. test with your agency?
A: There is a thirty (30) day waiting period required from P.O.S.T. before you can retake the P.O.S.T written exam. Please note, if you try to take the written test P.O.S.T. will not score your test.
Q: Is there a waiting period before I can reapply?
A: There is a thirty (30) day waiting period from the time you took the last recruitment activity (written exam, oral interview or physical ability test) before you can re-apply.