PRE-EMPLOYMENT PSYCHOLOGICAL SCREENING INFORMATION

The psychological evaluation is part of the process of determining whether an applicant is suited for the position. It is not a determination of mental health. Many perfectly healthy people are not suited for law enforcement. For example someone who processes information slowly or has difficulty being assertive may be emotionally stable but not suited for a particular set of job tasks.

The psychological evaluation process usually involves a set of written psychological tests. The tests used vary but most often one or more well established written tests will be given before the interview. The tests will be scored and interpreted by the doctor before the interview. The applicant should have an opportunity to discuss the tests and explain any unusual responses.

Many of the test items may seem unusual to a candidate but each question has a purpose. Some questions are asked more than once. Applicants should make an attempt to answer all questions. It is important to answer all questions honestly. Most psychological tests have built in factors to show how an applicant approaches testing. If an applicant makes an attempt to "skew" the tests they will be seen as defensive or possibly dishonest.

It is important to keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. The test items are taken as a whole to show how someone thinks or behaves or at least to point to issues that will later be discussed during the interview.

The interview will cover some of the same areas brought up in the background investigation. For example family background, work history, relationship history, and education will be discussed. Also covered are issues such as job interest, career goals, personal stress and drinking habits. It is important to be absolutely honest with the psychologist. More applicants are disqualified for lying than for minor personal or behavioral problems.

Remember that the pre-employment psychological evaluation is only for the purpose of informing the law enforcement agency of an opinion as to suitability for the position. You will likely be asked to sign a waiver that says the results will only be shared with the agency. The pre-employment psychological evaluation is not counseling and you do not have a doctor/patient relationship with the evaluating psychologist.

The best way to prepare for a pre-employment psychological evaluation is to show up rested and on time, and to be yourself. By the time a candidate is scheduled for the psychological evaluation they have already been evaluated in other areas and they are usually suitable candidates. If you do not pass a psychological evaluation it does not mean you have a psychological problem and it does not necessarily mean you will not pass evaluations for other positions or for other agencies.

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[Susan Saxe-Clifford, Ph.D. APC]. All rights reserved.