Minnesota Police Officer Hiring Process

There are many Minnesota colleges and universities offering Law Enforcement or Criminal Justice programs, however it is being reported that attendance has been down. In 2016, the MN POST Board claims that the supply of eligible candidates is getting closer to demand. While this makes getting a job less competitive that in years past, getting a police officer job on Minnesota law enforcement agency can still be a complex process.

Below is a breakdown of the Minnesota police officer hiring process.

APPLICATIONS AND PRELIMINARY TESTING

Police Hiring Process

Most all agencies list their job offerings somewhere on the Internet, including MinnesotaPoliceLinks.com. Large agencies typically use an online service to process their applications electronically. Many smaller agencies still request paper applications.

Depending on the agency you are applying for, you may have to first take a written test to get an interview. This is often common with cities that have an established Police Civil Service Commission. It is up to the employer to select the type of examination for their agency as long as the examination meets certain conditions.

Many agencies filter out applications for interviews based on education, experience, and veteran's preference. It is imperative for candidates to focus detailed attention on the quality of their application, cover letter, and resume. A cover letter should be specific to the agency you are applying. Hiring managers can quickly identify template letters. Keep them unique and heartfelt. Check and recheck you submissions for spelling errors and grammar. Quality report writing is an important trait for police officers and a poorly written letter can be enough in of itself to have your application sent to the reject pile.

Some agencies may require you to take a physical agility test. Make sure you are physically fit if you are looking for a police officer job. Shift work, poor eating habits, and poor sleeping schedules are hard enough on the physical health of a police officer. You do not want to enter the profession already out of shape.

INTERVIEWS

Police Interviewing

If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, do your homework before the interview. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Express excitement and appreciation for the opportunity to have an interview when you are contacted. The person arranging the interview is often involved in the hiring process and you want to be remembered as having a strong interest.
  • Know the agency and demographics of the area that you are applying for. Research online, drive around, and/or ride with an officer if you can. Many agencies may not allow you to go on a ride along, but at least try and interview an officer about the department.
  • Know the department's mission and core values (they are often posted on the agency's website). Use this material in the interview whenever you have an opportunity to explain what you believe in and/or the type of department you want to work for.
  • Prepare for the questions at least a few days before. Don't procrastinate! Allow yourself time to review your answers in your mind.
  • Think of examples from the past where you may have been involved in... "taking a leadership role", "disagreed with a supervisor", "faced an ethical challenge", "multitasking", "dealing with a challenging customer", etc…
  • Expect a question on ethics. (Unfortunately not all schools are teaching proper law enforcement ethics.) Questions may include examples of being put in a position where you have to arrest another law enforcement officer, or report internal policy violations of a peer. While this may be a difficult situation for you to be put into, remember that it is the violator that put you in that position and the violator made the decision to take a chance of losing their job by doing something stupid. You better answer this question as ethically sound as possible. Eg, "While it's an unfortunate situation, integrity is important in this profession and the members of community would expect me to do the right thing. As a result, I would…" If you indicate you'd give any leniency to the violator, expect not to be called back for another interview. If you don't believe in this type of response, then you are pursuing the wrong profession. Many officers are getting disciplined and/or fired for making unethical actions. Administrators won't tolerate it and the media has a watchful eye on it. The law enforcement community cannot afford the negative press about their organization.
  • Prepare to answer questions such as…

    1. What have you done to prepare yourself for this position?
    2. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
    3. What makes you the best candidate for this position?
    4. What do you know about the agency you are applying for?
    5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? ...10 years? (Hiring and training are expensive and departments are looking for quality candidates who desire longevity in the department.)
    6. What do you do to reduce stress?
    7. Is there anything in your background that may disqualify you?


  • Never ask a question at the end of an interview that is unimportant or can be asked with a follow up phone call or by interviewing an officer on another day. Often times candidates give a good interview and then screw it up by asking a ridiculous question. Instead, it is often better to take that time and close your interview with an expression of great interest in the position. Be heartfelt, humble, and passionately interested in the position. Summarize your quality traits and express your drive and desire to serve the community that you are applying for. It's OK to say you have a lot to learn, but make sure you follow up that you enjoy learning and taking on new challenges.

BACKGROUNDS

Police Interviewing

If you are fortunate enough to get to the background process, congratulations, you just stepped above about 99% of your competition. But the job is not yours yet. Police agencies are looking for someone who have a solid background. Officers are often scrutinized by the courts and they expected to be trusted by the public. A officer with a poor background can be embarrassing for an agency.

Most police officer backgrounds are detailed. You will be asked to disclose all your past baggage. Word of warning… DO SO. Background investigators are trained to dig. If they come up with some non-disclosed incident on your record (including your juvenile record) or they receive similar information from one of many people that they interview, you may discover that not disclosing the information could easily be a death sentence. To make matters worse, most background investigators get copies of other agency backgrounds and it may be too late in the next round to learn from a past non-disclosure mistake. Very few departments are willing to risk taking on a candidate that failed another agency's background. Again, you must keep in mind that there are many candidates out there.

If you have any of the following in your background, you may want to consider another profession BEFORE you expense yourself with many years of schooling or waste many years trying to pursue a job in law enforcement…

  • Convicted of a felony or domestic assault.
  • Fired from any job for lying, falsifying documents, insubordination, etc.
  • Fired from a previous law enforcement position.
  • You've been previously committed to a psychological treatment center, or failed a previous law enforcement psychological background.

Make sure you know the MN state statute that requires departments to have a Model Policy regarding police conduct. If your background includes incidents that would violate components of this policy, disclose it, explain it, and say you've learned from it.

PHYSCOLOGICAL TESTING

It is also required by Minnesota state statute 626.8471 that all peace officer candidates go through a psychological evaluation. Below is a video that will explain some of the testing process.

Most times you will be provided with a contingent offer prior to a psychological test. Be careful not to brag to everyone that you received a hiring offer until AFTER you received your final offer. Surprisingly, more and more candidates are failing psychological tests. It is extremely embarrassing to have to explain to everyone that you ended up not getting the job because you were not considered psychologically fit for the position.