The California Highway Patrol (CHP) Qualifications Appraisal Panel Interview (QAP) is often the most dreaded event in the gauntlet of tests undertaken to become a CHP cadet. This face-to-face ordeal can be easily controlled and successfully completed with solid preparation and common sense.
Keep in mind, first of all, that the time spent in this grueling hot seat is usually only around 30-45 minutes – about the same amount of time it would take to make a positive impression on any new employer, prospective mate, or new in-laws. This interview is a very small amount of your time, but carries a very important impact to your life.
Preparation is the key to a successful QAP experience, so let’s explore some of the options that can be used to get you primed and ready.
- Research the duties and qualifications of a CHP officer
- Talk with your CHP recruiter
- Set up or become involved in scheduled practice interviews
- Study the CHP Cadet Bulletin (CHP 179D)
- Review the CHP official website
- Talk with current CHP officers
- Participate in an approved ride-a-long with a CHP officer
- Commit your application (STD 678) to memory
The last point may seem extreme, but consider that this document is what your interview panel members will be reviewing prior to your interview and may use as a springboard to begin their questions.
The QAP follows a standardized format and should be treated as a formal interview. This means your demeanor, dress, and behavior should show respect. You have earned this opportunity to present yourself and showcase your abilities and qualifications – your respect should be a reflection of the work you have done to get here.
Follow a few common sense rules the day of your interview:
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before
- Eat lightly or at least 2 hours before your interview
- Wear conservative business attire with tailored, clean lines
- Bring your photo ID
- Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time
- Ask for the panel members names and the correct pronunciation
- Sit down and relax – review your background mentally and smile!
The QAP format consists of you providing answers to questions posed by the interview panel members. These questions will range from direct queries about your background, education, experience, and skills to hypothetical questions that require you to make judgment responses. No two interviews are alike, yet every interview has the same goal: to appraise your worthiness as a CHP cadet applicant.
You can make the best of this opportunity by keeping some simple things in mind:
- Keep your attention level high – remain focused on the current question.
- Project a confident, attentive demeanor – sit up straight, but move or gesture if it feels appropriate or allows you to relax and look more natural.
- Listen carefully – respond when you are asked a question, but allow yourself a few moments to collect your thoughts, if necessary.
- Let the interview panel direct things – they are your guides through this event, let them show the way forward.
- Use verbal clarity – say what you mean using accepted terms and phrases – slang and habitual phrases (“you know”, “like”, “uh-huh”) show a lack of concentration and poor communication skills.
- Keep your answers brief and to the point – extraneous details distract from the important issue: You being an asset to the CHP.
- Be gracious – opportunities earned can be destroyed if disrespected – if an error in judgment is pointed out, accept it, and move on without argument.
Your interview will usually close with an offer for you to make a closing statement. This is your moment to shine and you should have this “speech” so clearly in your mind from practicing it, that it will come across naturally. Be friendly, but earnest. Your intent is obvious, you want to be a CHP cadet – make sure your sincerity comes across from the heart and not as a robotic regurgitation.
It is appropriate to shake hands with your interview panel members at the close of your interview.
Do not close your interview by asking when you will be notified of the results of your interview. Applicants are notified by mail 4-5 weeks following their interview.
Walk into your QAP interview solidly prepared and you will walk out with confidence, pride, and a feeling of true success.