Over the past several months I have discussed the various ways to prepare for a promotional examination. During my consultations many of the candidates ask, What do I say at the end of the interview?
In an Oral Board setting, when the raters have completed their questions, they will usually say something like, "This is your time, is there anything else you wish to add?" It is at this point that you would give your concise closing statement. Usually, this statement will be a recap of what you had just said. For example:
As you can see I have worked extremely hard throughout my entire career for this position. Given the opportunity, I am confident that through my various assignments, especially those in command positions, as well as my continuing education, that I have gained a breadth of knowledge that will assist the Department in the development of its personnel. Also, I will not only continue to improve upon the service the Department gives the citizens of our community in providing a safe environment for everyone, but will also improve upon the high standards for which we are known.
You can include whatever fits your needs but as you can see, this is a very short recap of your entire career history and goes directly to the point that you are the person that should be chosen for the position.
When you have concluded your closing statement and the Oral Board thanks you, and they begin to stand, you should also stand and again look each of the raters in the eye, shake their hand, and thank them by using their rank and name. For example: "Thank you, Lieutenant Swan," then turn and walk out the door with your head pointed forward and your eyes looking towards the horizon. Maintain this posture all the way out the door because you are being observed by the Board until the door closes.
The reason I bring this to your attention is because I have observed many individuals slouch their shoulders and hang their head while walking out the door because they felt they did poorly during their presentation. Don't let the raters know how you feel as this may - and I repeat may - have some influence on their final appraisal of your entire interview. Besides, you really can't determine how well or poorly you did because you were under so much stress that you probably don't recall every action or question that took place during those last 30 or 45 minutes of your life. How many times have you heard people say when they left an exam, "Boy, I really blew that test!" when in reality they passed it with flying colors; or on the other hand, "Boy, I aced that one!" and later found out they failed. So don't jump to conclusions.
I have always stressed having several mock oral boards, utilizing raters that are not close personal friends but members from different departments, prior to your actual interview. Use your closing statements during these mock orals so you can become comfortable with your presentation. When you have completed you're the interview, take a deep breath and sit down with the raters and ask them to critique your performance. You may get some hard hits, but try not to take it personally.
Remember, this is a learning tool, and you want the raters to be honest with you and help you in improving your presentation. Do not get discouraged. This is the time to change the negatives into positives. Don't say, "Well, that is the way I am and if they don't like it, then too bad because I am not going to change." Uh-uh; wrong attitude because in reality it may be the time to change. Remember, we are not the same person that we were when we were first sworn in as police officers. We evolve with time and mature. We must change or grow stagnant.
Be open to any criticism from the raters - that's what this whole process is about - and let them assess you while you take notes. When they have completed their critique, ask questions on how you can improve. For example, if they say there were parts of an answer they did not understand, discuss it with them and figure out a way to improve that answer. If they stated you rambled, determine how you can be more concise with your answers. And if they did not like your appearance or your gestures, make sure you have the answers on ways to improve any concerns prior to the rater's departure. This is your future we are discussing and these raters have taken a lot of time to assist you, so take the time to pick their brains and utilize their experience.
When the raters have left, take the time to sit down alone and review your mock oral tape. See if you agree with the raters' critique and again determine ways you feel you can improve your performance. You will notice things that you can't remember doing (i.e., facial tics, gestures, eyes wandering, stuttering, the use of "ah" throughout your presentation, and so forth). Again, take notes and be tough on yourself.
On the other side of the coin, compliment yourself for a good presentation. Build on the strengths of your actions and answers. This process gives you visions of improvement and strengths, so always be positive and utilize these areas to your advantage.
When you have finished your solo review, ask your significant other, partner, close friend, or relative to review the tape with you. These people know you the best and may be able to assist you in determining if the person they see on tape is the "real deal" or someone they have never seen before. They may determine that you look and sound great or very phony. They do not have to have any experience in your profession; they are rating you on your appearance and how you present yourself to a group, which is very valuable feedback.
Now you have this valuable feedback from the raters and your own personal observation, what do you do with all of this information? Initially, nothing! You have just been through a very stressful situation, so I want you to take a couple of days off and relax. Get away from it - go to the show or out to dinner - but forget about it. After two days have passed and your brain is starting to function again, it is time for you to get back to work in developing the best candidate for the position.
Review your tape again and remember, as Tony Robbins always states, Repetition is the mother of learning. After reviewing your tape, compare the tape with your notes. You may observe other areas for improvement or see more strengths that you originally missed. When you are finished with the tape, make a complete list of areas for improvement, and then list your strengths. When you have completed these lists, it is time to build on them. Any areas that you need to improve will take precedence. If you gave an incorrect answer, research the correct answer and write it down. Don't leave it to memory because you will forget it and this way you will have a resource to refer to when you continue your studies. If your gestures were excessive, you now know that you must control them. This will come with practice now that you are aware of what it is that you are doing that detracts from your presentation. Build on your strengths, which will give you confidence for your next Oral Board. If you handled some very hard or complex questions well, remember that feeling and utilize it in the future. If you looked great in your new clothes, be sure to duplicate that look and stand tall because when you look good on the outside you feel good on the inside.
Again, this is part of your research and development and after correcting any deficiencies you may have noticed or had pointed out to you during your presentation, you may feel that you would like to have another mock Oral Board, which would help you determine if you have eliminated the troubled areas of your former performance. (I highly recommend this idea.) Utilize another team of raters for the Board and follow the above steps throughout the process. This will help build up your self-confidence and helps eliminate some of the mystique when you are making your presentation before the Oral Board. Remember, more preparation makes you a more viable candidate.