Pre-Employment Screening

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The 1968 report presented by National Advisory Commission, on Civil Disorders during the summer of 1967, to the president of the United States highlighted the existence of individuals within the police department whose actions exhibited prejudice. The commission faulted the evaluation procedure for law enforcement candidates only required their knowledge of grammar and mathematics. Therefore, the commission suggested the employment of psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals to be used in screening applicants, together with the already used, to address the issue of personality related issues. In 1969, the first police psychologist was hired in Los Angeles (Mark, 2014). This paper investigates the current acceptable standards of psychological evaluations; and, how they are used to improve the efficiency of screening applicants for law enforcement agencies.

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Standards for Pre-Employment Screening

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) provided the psychological guidelines for pre-employment used by law enforcement and public safety agencies. The directive consisted of various instructions which must be met for the evaluation to be deemed valid. The first, required by the IACP, is for the applicant to complete a disclosure form. The second requirement, of the IACP standard for evaluation, is for the examiner to be qualified (Murphy, 1972). The IACP states the psychological evaluation process should be conducted by a licensed psychologist with a doctorate degree or a registered mental health professional (where required by the law). The psychologist is expected to follow all the standard procedures for the evaluation process; as required by the IACP.

Additionally, another requirement, in the standard guidelines provided by the IACP, involves having the applicants’ background information. To elaborate, all applicants should provide his or her background information. Afterwards, a thorough screening should be carried out to assess the validity of the provided data. Some examples of the requested background information include: school history, background, financial records, legal issues, health records, previous employment history, and history of substance use (Murphy, 1972). Furthermore, there should be a live interview as well as a polygraph test should be conducted to gauge the response of the applicants to various questions posed. The final requirement of the IACP standard procedure deals with follow-up activities. To explain, applicants who are successful should be subjected to follow up observation to establish whether their condition is, sufficiently, stable.

Per the Georgia Department of Public Safety website, the requirements for the pre-employment screening is pretty much the same as the conditions stipulated in the guidelines of the IACP (“Hiring Process,” n.d.). Not to mention, the use of the polygraph test during the evaluation process, and the interview should last for up to an hour (Mitchell, 2016). This requirement enables problematic characteristics, the candidates may try to conceal, to be uncovered.

Despite the fact, both, the state level and the IACP requirement are useful in pre-employment screening. Unfortunately, some may believe there are still vital areas that are not addressed. Evidently, racial discrimination and homophobia are matters which affect the world; let alone states (Mitchell, 2016). Therefore, when performing a pre-employment evaluation for police applicants, there should be more parameters that gauge the candidates’ opinion on race and gay rights. Especially, on the issue of race which has negatively affected the image of the police.

Primary Aim of Pre-Employment Screening

The main aim of conducting a pre-employment screening is to evaluate three significant aspects of the applicant. First, whether the applicant meets the required standards stipulated, by the laws, to occupy the given position. Secondly, the objective is to assess the mental and emotional conditions of the applicant that may adversely affect their ability to efficiently perform job requirements (Mark, 2014). Finally, the primary objective of the pre-employment screening is to gauge whether the applicant is resilient enough to withstand the psychological demands the job may place on him or her (Mark, 2014).

Ethical Implication and Legal Aspects of Pre-Employment Screening

The main ethical implication, in conducting this procedure, is to show the dedication of the police department to build the confidence it has lost among the people it is mandated to serve. Therefore, thorough screening of the applicant, to be recruited by the department, shows how the law enforcement agencies take work ethics seriously. The legal aspect of pre-employment screening is it minimizes the amount of cases involving law enforcement departments defending itself against legal suits filed on the ground of incompetence and bias. For many years, different police departments, across the United States, have been subject of lawsuits questioning their ability to serve and protect. However, if there is consistency in the implementation the results of this procedure will change the status quo.


In conclusion, the use of pre-employment screening for potential candidates of law enforcement agencies is aimed at improving competence. Not to mention three major parties will benefit from this process. These parties are the following: the police officer being recruited, the law enforcement department, and the community. As a result, this procedure will recruit more competent officers which, in turn, will paint a right image, to the community, of the officers and the department (Mitchell, 2016). In addition, the community, will enjoy the improved quality of services produced by the more competent officers. In general, the impact of pre-employment screening will mean a decrease in the amount of cases involving police harassment and misconduct.

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Pre-Employment Screening. (2019, Feb 15). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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