Police Interview Newsletter: Why Psychological Screening?

February 2002
Volume 1, Issue 2

Most progressive law enforcement agencies employ a well-trained Ph.D. psychologist to assist in the selection of new recruits.

The police psychologist generally interviews and evaluates police and deputy sheriff applicants during the final stages of the application process. Some departments require an extensive face-to-face interview with the psychologist. Other agencies empower the psychologist to sit on the New Applicant Oral Interview Board, so that each candidate can be asked psychologically relevant questions.

Standardized psychological tests are often administered to law Enforcement applicants to provide the psychologist, and indirectly the hiring agency, with specific information about one's personality, aptitudes, skill sets, and emotional adjustment.

The psychologist's job is to offer a professional judgment regarding the applicant's current suitability for law enforcement employment. Data from multiple sources are analyzed and interpreted prior to making recommendations to the police personnel staff.

Psychological data might include: the written application & supporting documents, interview presentation, psychological test results, job history, and educational history. Psychological screening is designed to identify police and deputy applicants who are interpersonally, emotionally, and/or behaviorally unsuited for new officer selection & training.

Good psychological health and emotional maturity is a must for the successful police applicant! Inside this issue:




Brief Descriptions of frequently used tests in law enforcement selection process

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) - The MMPI is easily the most frequently used test for law enforcement selection, as well as for general clinical purposes. It was developed in the early 1940's as a diagnostic tool to identify psychiatric patients from groups of normally adjusted people. The MMPI is a well- researched and highly respected psychological test. The test profile offers clear, easily understood descriptions of people's symptoms, problem areas, and personality characteristics. The instrument was completely revised and updated in 1989 (MMPI-2). Applicants are asked to respond true or false to 567 questions. The test takes 1-2 hours to administer and requires an 8th grade reading level. In addition to 10 basic clinical scales (e.g. Depression, Paranoia, etc.), the MMPI-2 contains several validity scales. These show "faking good" and "faking bad" response tendencies on the test. Separate norms available for males and females.

California Psychological Inventory (CPI) - The CPI was developed by H.G. Gough in 1967 to evaluate normally occurring differences within the general population. Gough stated that the purposes of scale are to predict "what people will say and do" in different situations and "to identify persons who will be described in interpersonally significant ways." Some of the 18-20 standard scales are designed to measure: Dominance, Sociability, Self-Acceptance, Well-Being, Responsibility, Self-Control, Intellectual Efficiency, and Flexibility. Applicants are Instructed to response true or false to 480 questions. The test takes 1 - 1 1/2 hours to complete and requires a reading ability at the 7th grade level. Separate male and female norms are available. Profile scores reveal "faking good" and "faking bad" tendencies. The CPI was not designed to assess serious psychopathology.

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF) - The 16PF was developed by H.B. Cattell for evaluating normal adults. Sixteen stable personality scales were developed to reflect different personality dimensions present in normal individuals. These 16PF scales include: Concrete to Abstract, Shy to Bold, Tough to Tender-Minded, Practical to Imaginative, Self- Assured to Apprehensive, and Relaxed to Tense, among others. Test questions require the applicant to choose among three response options. The test is written at a 6.5 to 7.5 grade reading level and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. "Faking good" and "faking bad" scales are present. Norms are available by sex and age. The 16PF was not designed to assess severe psychopathology.

Inwald Personality Inventory (IPI) - The IPI was developed by R. Inwald in 1982 for the expressed purpose of evaluating law enforcement applicants. It consists of 25 original scales and is designed to focus on "work-related counterproductive behaviors that a normal person might have engaged in, but would not have been picked up by the more psychopathological focus of the MMPI" (Boes, J.O. & Chandler, C.J., Police Integrity, 2001). The IPI includes the following scales: Alcohol Use, Drug Use, Trouble with the Law, Job Adjustment Difficulties, Antisocial Attitudes, Rigid Type, and Loner - among others. Applicants are asked to answer true or false to 310 items. The test takes 30-45 minutes to complete and is often administered with the MMPI. The IPI has one validity scale that measures test-taking defensiveness (guardedness).




In this regularly appearing column, Dr. Hart and local law enforcement officers will respond to frequently asked questions.

Applicant: I've read that some police departments and correctional facilities are using a role play test called the B-PAD to evaluate job candidates. What is this test and how does it work?

Dr. Hart: Please understand that the B-PAD (Behavioral Personnel Assessment Device) is not a personality test. The B-PAD is a widely used work sample test that is used to help predict one's future effectiveness as a police officer or deputy sheriff. Applicants are required to watch a series of eight, life-like video simulations (e.g. angry motorist, disgruntled citizen, ethical dilemma, etc.), then to role-play appropriate responses (within 45 seconds) immediately after viewing each scenario. The applicants' responses are videotaped and later scored by trained raters. People skills and common sense judgment are carefully evaluated. An applicant's B-PAD performance is viewed as a fairly good predictor of one's interpersonal effectiveness as a police officer or deputy sheriff. The test takes about 20 minutes to administer and has been used since 1992 to screen law enforcement applicants.

The B-PAD is sometimes used in conjunction with the MMPI-2 or another Personality inventory to get a broader picture of the applicant's potential strengths and weaknesses.


Phone: 804-353-6700
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Email: MacHart@PoliceInterview.com
Malcolm M. Hart, Ph.D.
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Richmond, VA. 23230

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