The psychological exam


One of the last components of the hiring process is the completion of a psychological, or “psych” exam. Maybe only second to the polygraph exam, this evaluation often strikes more fear in the hearts of applicants than any other, but those concerns are widely unfounded. The intent of the psych exam is not to push and probe and delve so deep into the psyche that every applicant is deemed un-hirable. Rather, the purpose of this meeting is to get a better understanding of each individual’s unique personality traits, assess their specific skills and shortcomings, identify their concerns or fears, and determine their fitness for a position that requires an ability to handle high amounts of stress for an extended duration.

The examiner may be looking for potential red flags such as a lack of impulse control, perceived bias, or willful deception, but they are not evaluating based on some unattainable “perfect” score. Every person is so very different, it would be unreasonable to hold everyone to the same exacting standard. However, the psych exam is a useful tool for analyzing the potential for an individual to be perceived as relatable, flexible, and self-aware – all essential components for the highly specialized position of law enforcement officer.


The actual examination is typically handled in two parts over an extended session, and it is not uncommon for this appointment to be two to three hours in duration. The first portion of the exam is often a written test, with many questions requiring a response based on multiple-choice selections. The industry standard means of measurement for this is the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) which will be scored at the conclusion of your written test, and is used to direct specific questions during the second portion of the exam, which consists of an oral interview. Do not assume that this meeting is an interrogation, as it should be treated more conversationally. The examiner will have key components they wish to address, but they may also ask open-ended questions to discern more about your personality make-up. Your candidness during this session will reflect more positively than an attempt to be more reserved, as the latter has the potential to be viewed as dishonest.

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