As I have stated before, preparation for your oral interview is paramount to succeeding in your promotional process and it all starts when you enter the room and greet the raters.
When you enter the room, stand tall with command presence. There is nothing worse than watching a candidate timidly enter the room, looking scared stiff. Maybe you are shaking on the inside, but demonstrate confidence on the outside. Show the raters that you are in control and confident. I remember there was a deodorant commercial that stated, "never let them see you sweat," so don't.
Let the raters introduce themselves, and repeat their names as you firmly shake their hands while maintaining eye contact. Now, take your seat, pull the chair up to the table, and place your hands either in a flat position, fingers interlaced, or the palm of one hand on the top of the other hand, on top of the table.
Pulling the chair closer to the table is not an aggressive move, but merely a move that demonstrates your confidence. There was one assessment center that I participated in as a candidate, and the raters placed the candidate's chair approximately six feet from the table. Many of the candidates entered the room, sat in the chair without moving it, and held their interview over six feet from the raters. These raters placed the chair away from the table to determine which candidates had confidence in themselves to move the chair closer to the table and begin their interview.
Do not place your elbows on the table, or form a steeple with your fingers in front of your chin. Try as hard as possible to keep the palms of your hands flat on the table. If you place your hands on your lap, this could cause your shoulders to stoop (and you may not even be aware it is happening) or you could display poor posture, which again shows body language that can be interpreted as a lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem. Placing your hands on the table helps promote correct posture throughout your interview. Then, too, if you are like me and have some Italian blood coursing through your veins, it will be next to impossible for you not to talk with your hands, but try to keep the gestures at a minimum, and be aware of what you are doing with your hands.
While sitting, do not lean back in your chair or cross your legs, as this gives a poor impression to the raters. It makes you look too relaxed and can depict an air of aloofness, or it may be interpreted as low self-esteem because you are trying to look too cool and imply this testing process is no big thing. Lean forward with your chest close to the edge of the table and both feet flat on the floor. This will help you remain in a position that will further your command presence at the table.
Prepare an opening and closing statement. Usually, the board will begin the session by trying to have you relax. They will say something to the effect, "Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?" This is your time to shine. Tell them what they want to hear. State how many years you have in law enforcement; explain your various assignments; highlight those assignments that had command responsibility (i.e. S.W.A.T. team leader, personnel and training officer for the department, K-9 officer responsible for coordinating an area search of a crime scene, etc). Then, explain your educational achievements and your current education endeavors. Remember to just highlight these accomplishments because you are on a schedule. Practice this ahead of time so you are comfortable with it. Make it yours, but do not memorize it, because the minute you stumble, you may have difficulty getting back on course. You are already nervous--don't make it any harder on yourself. Be concise. You will be surprised how much information you can deliver in a short period of time if you plan your statements ahead of time.
Let the Process Begin