In a previous article I explained how you should not answer the question "If we don't choose you for this position, which candidate should we choose?" Basically, don't say someone other than yourself is better for the job. On the other side of the coin, when you are asked the above question, do not "put down" your opponent, because these types of answers can backfire. It will not make you look any better in the eyes of the raters but will, in fact, make you look very insecure with yourself.
For example, some officers will answer this question by stating something like, "Officer Joe should not even be considered for this position because I have more time in grade and more education. He doesn't believe in school and only registered for classes when he heard that this promotion was going to take place. He doesn't even believe in all of your policies like I do, and he can't be trusted. Look at my record and when compared to his, there is no comparison. I am the better person." Or, "I don't think you could possibly be considering Officer Jane because she has no self-esteem and would make a terrible supervisor. Besides, you don't want a female supervisor running your troops out in the field. You need me."
Naturally, the above statements are somewhat exaggerated, but believe me, I have heard similar statements during oral board presentations, as well as in chief's interviews. These types of answers tend to show that the officer does not possess a great deal of self-esteem, and in my book, this is definitely not the #1 candidate for the position.
So, what do you say when a rater does ask you these types of questions? Well, the first thing you want to remember is that your competition is just that--your competition; they are not your friends during this testing period. They are trying for the same position as you; they are attempting to enhance their career the same as you; they want to improve their salary just like you. So, as you can see, they should not be viewed as your friends, but instead as your competitors, during this testing process.
You may feel that this kind of thinking is cruel. You couldn't possibly think that way about individuals who are your friends. These are people you depend on for assistance out in the field; with whom you socialize when you are off duty. How could you possibly think of your friends as competitors? Because, to repeat, this is a competition and should be viewed as strictly business!
When I was asked: "If we don't choose you for this position, which candidate should we choose?" during a promotional exam, I always felt there was no other competition and I would state something to that effect: "If I were not chosen for this position, I believe the board would be making a mistake by not giving my police department the best person for the job." Then I would explain why I felt I was the best person for the position. Again, you have to feel comfortable with this kind of response. For example, I always thought that if I wasn't the best person for the job ,then why go through all of this trouble to begin with? With this type of answer, I did not give the other candidates any accolades (let them earn them on their own) nor did I put anyone down. I wanted the board to focus their attention only on me and my achievements.
"Nothing demeans you more than your demeaning of a fellow competitor!" Now, specifically for female candidates, there are some answers to certain questions that do more harm than good during your presentation before the oral board or the chief's interview. For example, some female officers have stated to me, "I will be your first female supervisor if I am appointed," or "It would be good public relations for the department to show that you are an equal opportunity chief by promoting me," or "I hope you don't think that because I am a woman that I cannot do the job." Don't demean yourself by placing these conditions in your answers. The raters and the chief know you are qualified to take this exam; otherwise, you would not be in the testing process. Just how qualified you are for the supervisory position will depend on your prior work history and the answers you give to the oral board and during the chief's interview. So, state who you are and why you think you are qualified for this position based on your own merits.