You may have given speeches, handed out citations, talked to your family and friends about your career, but I doubt if you have ever sat down and studied yourself after your presentations or how you reacted in a stressful situation. Now people may have approached you and stated you did well, but ask yourself: Is "well" good enough to beat out my competition?
What I strongly suggest is that you videotape yourself while answering questions during a mock oral board. I don't want you to ask yourself questions while sitting in front of a mirror to watch your reactions, because you will miss many of them. And I don't want you to stand by yourself and ask yourself questions while standing in front of the camera. Nor do I want your significant other or a close friend to ask you questions while you are sitting in front of a camera. Why not, you may ask? Because you want to feel the stresses associated with the testing process, especially the oral board or the assessment center exercise, and the above situations do not initiate enough "real life" pressure. So, there's no stress in messing up in front of your friends or significant other; they are very close to you and may have difficultly giving an honest critique of your performance. It is difficult to tell a close friend that they "stink." Plus, since they are friends, it is too easy to laugh it off if you make a mistake.
No, I want you to contact three respected associates from an outside agency, and ask them to be raters on your mock oral board. If possible, the rank of the raters should be at least one rank higher than the position for which you are testing. Since these individuals are well-respected officers whom you admire because of their achievements within their agencies and throughout their careers, you would probably feel embarrassed or upset with yourself if you performed poorly in front of them. Ask them to "put me through the wringer." They will take this assignment seriously, will work diligently on being an excellent board, and will rate you accordingly.
Now that you have your oral board ready, pick a date, time, and location away from your residence. Your home is way too comfortable and doesn't place enough stress on you. Remember, we are attempting to recreate the intensity of your upcoming testing process. You may have access to an office on a weekend when no one is around. Try to use a conference room with a large table. Usually, during an oral board presentation, the room is arranged with three seats for the raters on one side of the table and one seat for the candidate on the other side. Place your video camera behind the raters' chairs so it is facing you. If you don't have a camera, borrow or rent one for a day--it is well worth the rental fee. Have one of the raters turn the camera on prior to you entering the room. This will help evaluate your entrance: Did you demonstrate self-confidence and command presence, or were your shoulders slouched? Do not have anyone "man" the camera, as this will create a distraction for you.
Prior to entering the room
The night before the oral board, I want you to relax as much as possible. If you live by the water or a park, take a walk with your significant other and understand that you have prepared yourself as best as possible and that you are ready for tomorrow's process. Have a light dinner with no alcoholic beverages, and go to bed early.
Set a time for your presentation: arrive early, dressed the way you would during your "real" presentation. In other words, if you are planning to wear a suit and tie or a dress to your "real" oral board, this is what you will wear to your mock oral board.
Remember, this is just like a dress rehearsal for a play, only in this scenario, you are working extremely hard to enhance your future, which is what makes this preparation so exciting. The reason I compare it to a play is because once you enter that room, you will be on stage, and all eyes will be on you while you give an outstanding performance, convincing these raters that you are the best candidate for the position. This preparation also allows you to plan your presentation ahead of time, because during an oral board, there will be a time limit. It usually depends on your city personnel manager and sometimes the chief of police, but normally the oral board will last anywhere from 20, 30, 45, or even 60 minutes. This is the time that you have to sell yourself to the panel of raters, so you must be ready.