Preparing for the Police Psychological (Hiring Assessment)
Understanding the Process
The video below has been developed by Dr. David A. Paprota, Ed.D. (Chief of Police, Ret.) to assist law enforcement candidates in understanding the clinical police psychological assessment that is required as part of the law enforcement hiring process. The video has been produced on the assumption that those who have been selected by a law enforcement agency and provided a “conditional offer” of employment are “good” candidates who are mature, stable, reasonable, responsible, honest, realistic, and accountable.
The information provided in this video consistently proves to be extremely helpful for good candidates who are scheduled to go to their actual psychological assessment as part of a hiring process. The primary message relayed in the video centers around the very important fact that the psychological is NOT A COMPETITION. Candidates must understand that the psychologist is not looking for perfection, but instead, is simply looking for the candidate to be within “normal” ranges and NOT a “risk” if appointed as a sworn police officer.
Understanding the Written Psychological Testing while at the Doctor’s Office
The most sophisticated written assessments administered by the psychologist or psychiatrist prior to the formal psychological interview have special “scales” built in to determine if the candidate is trying to “fake” responses. While a reasonable level of “positive impression management” is expected when a candidate is subjected to an employment related assessment, the candidate must not be unrealistic and therefore must be reasonable in his or her responses. Common “faking” scales often include a “lie” scale, a “defensiveness” scale, and varied forms of positive impression management scales that measure for intentional faking while completing the assessment. These assessments tend to contain 500+ statements overall with specific internal scales consisting of 15 to 30 statements each which are designed to directly be scored on a designated faking scale. Candidates who incorrectly try to “game” the assessment and provide unrealistically positive responses to every statement, find themselves being challenged during the interview portion of the assessment. In some cases, the candidate doesn’t make it to the psychological interview portion by essentially invalidating his or her psychological assessments through consistent faked responses. Those who make it to the interview portion at least get a chance to possibly explain themselves and their ridiculous responses.
An example of a “faking” scale statement is . . . “I behave the exact same at home as when I am out in a formal setting.” While it would be ridiculous to answer “True” or “Agree,” some misguided candidates answer true or agree trying to only provide what they perceive as positive responses. This type of statement is purely to detect if a candidate is lying by providing fake and unrealistically positive responses.
Candidates should not be intimidated or overly concerned about the testing as long as he or she does not sabotage his or her own efforts. Good candidates who have difficulty with the testing only do so because they get in their own way. The personality assessment testing consists of simple statements like, “I am known to be a friendly person,” to which the candidate must answer True/False or across varied ranges from, for example, Strongly Agree, Agree, Not Sure, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. These assessments are different than the competitive trait assessments used on competitive, entry-level, law enforcement exams. The assessments used in a psychologist or psychiatrist office are clinical in nature and are actually used, in part, to potentially diagnose a disorder or significant psychological concern. As such, it is essential that candidates are mature, stable, reasonable, responsible, honest, realistic, and accountable for his or her actions. Generally, when given a wide range of available responses along an “agreement” scale, it is most appropriate to use the varied range of responses available when considering each statement. While one statement may call for a “Strongly Agree,” the next statement may only be an “Agree” response. Candidates should disregard any “advice” they have been given to stick with either all “Strongly” responses or to stick with just “Agree or Disagree” responses. Candidates should simply pick the response that most accurately fits him or her. The “range” which is considered “normal” is reasonably broad. Perfection is not expected, as suitable candidates tend to vary within the acceptable range.
Preparing for the Police Psychological (Hiring Assessment)
While Dr. David A. Paprota, Ed.D. (Chief of Police, Ret.) very successfully prepares law enforcement candidates for competitive, entry-level, testing, he does NOT personally prepare candidates for the clinical, psychological assessment.
Dr. David A. Paprota, Ed.D.
Chief of Police (Ret.)
Chief David A. Paprota (Ret.) began his law enforcement career in 1989 working as a special officer with the Beach Haven Police Department in New Jersey. He attended the Ocean County Police Academy, Class #54, in 1990 where he graduated #1 overall in his class. He joined the Tinton Falls (NJ) Police Department in 1991 after finishing #1 on both the written and the physical open-competitive examination. He transferred to the Lacey Township (NJ) Police Department in 1992.
Chief Paprota was promoted to Sergeant in 1998 after achieving the highest exam score in the State of New Jersey (over 2,500 candidates tested in 1996). He was then promoted to Lieutenant in 2001 after again achieving the highest exam score in the State of New Jersey. Likewise, after achieving the highest exam score in the State of New Jersey, he was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2005. Chief Paprota assumed command of the Lacey Township Police Department in 2012 and was ultimately promoted to the rank of Chief of Police in March of 2013 after the civil service commission and the municipality “waived” the testing process. Chief Paprota officially retired from the police department on August 1, 2016, to continue his formal research and to focus on furthering Critical Concepts & Strategies, LLC – CCS Test Prep®.
Chief Paprota earned a Doctoral Degree, Ed.D., from Seton Hall University in 2012; a post-graduate Educational Specialist Degree, Ed.S., from Seton Hall University in 2008; a Master of Arts Degree, M.A., in Supervision and Administration from Seton Hall University in 1999; and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice in 1996. Dr. Paprota is a graduate of the West Point Command and Leadership Program; he is a Certified Public Manager (CPM) through Fairleigh Dickinson University; and a member of Mensa as well as the National Honor Society. He is a published author and has produced a number of police training manuals.
Chief Paprota has distinguished himself in the world of testing throughout the years by not only achieving the highest examination scores within his department on his promotional examinations, but he further distinguished himself in achieving the highest examination scores throughout the State of New Jersey for each of his promotional examinations. Furthermore, Chief Paprota has conducted focused job-task-analyses as well as authored and administered promotional examination processes for multiple, non-civil service, municipal police departments. Assessment of law enforcement personnel through written and oral testing has been a passion of Chief Paprota’s for over 27 years.
From 2000 through 2012, Chief Paprota served as the vice-president and co-owner of the largest and most successful law enforcement training company in the State of New Jersey. With over 25 years of training experience, after training over 17,000 candidates, Chief Paprota decided to focus exclusively on entry-level law enforcement training with the formation of Critical Concepts & Strategies (CCS Test Prep®). Candidates who do their research will find that CCS Test Prep® is the top entry-level law enforcement training program available.