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Timothy Roufa

Psychological Screening in Criminal Justice Careers

By September 15, 2013

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When I worked as recruiter, I received hundreds of emails and phone calls every day from hopeful job seekers hoping to land a career in law enforcement. The two areas I was asked most about were, understandably, the polygraph exam and the psychological evaluation.

I say 'understandably' because, no matter how great we may think we are or how clean we think our background is, it's never pleasant to know someone is digging around in your past or analyzing your mind. Or maybe that's just me.

In any case, I quickly found that there were very few people who understood exactly what the psyche eval was all about. They were concerned that if they failed, it would be an indictment of their sanity and mean that they were, for lack of a better word, crazy.

In fact, the purpose of the psychological exam is simply to determine whether or not candidates are truly suitable for work in law enforcement. Every day in the life of a police officer may be wrought with challenges, stresses and frustrations. The fact of the matter is, not everyone is cut out for the job. Then again, not everyone is cut out to be a writer, a professional athlete, an engineer or a soldier.

So, if you find yourself sweating a preemployment psychological evaluation, let me offer you this advice: don't. Let the chips fall where they may, and if you find out that law enforcement isn't your thing after all, don't despair. With all the opportunities available in criminology and criminal justice careers, you're sure to find the right fit for you.

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