Dress and Deportment
If you want to become a law enforcement agent, you must be observant. With this in mind, you should have observed that law enforcement agents are, by and large, a fairly conservative body of individuals and tend to dress accordingly, especially on somewhat formal occasions like interviews and oral boards.
Invariably, the only acceptable attire for law enforcement officers in a courtroom is conventional business clothing. For men, this means at least a jacket and a tie. For women, it means a business suit or a conservative dress. The purpose is simple—just like punctuality, it shows respect. In the courtroom, business attire is somewhat mandated by agencies to demonstrate respect for the criminal justice system. Presentation by the prosecution is enhanced by the dress of those doing the presenting.
Applicants that have made the first-round draft cut with their application, and have been awarded an interview appointment, need to remember that looks do play a part in the initial interview. This does not mean candidates need to run out and buy the latest fashions. It does mean that wearing a sports shirt and jeans to the interview is not likely to win any points with the interviewer. Even if you don't have much money, you can demonstrate reasonable effort and respect by trying to look the part. Borrowing a jacket and a tie, wearing a clean pair of slacks and a collared shirt, or even taking the time to shine shoes can all demonstrate some kind of effort and a certain level of respect. But if applicants really want the job, then they need to dress professionally. This means clean, business-style clothing and proper grooming.
Although law enforcement agencies determine the attire that its members will wear in a courtroom, defendants and civilian plaintiffs are free to wear virtually anything they like. It is part of the free and open concept under which the American court system operates, guaranteeing access to everyone and exclusion of none.
Candidates need to keep in mind that the initial interview is a first-look situation for the hiring authority. This is the time when the interviewer will be assessing the applicant physically and trying to imagine how he or she will look in the apparel that the agency requires. If a male applicant is clearly uncomfortable in a necktie, or a female's body language discloses that she is not at home in her professional attire, they will not be themselves during the interview. Therefore, it is important for candidates to select clothing in which they can feel professional and remain at ease. Sometimes accomplishing these two goals simultaneously is impossible, but applicants should still make the attempt.
Wearing a necktie has become synonymous with formality in present society. A century ago it was what differentiated the ruling-class male from his working-class laborer counterpart. Despite the trend for law enforcement agents to dress less formally today, casual attire remains the exception rather than the rule throughout the industry.
It is also important to remember that your body language can disclose much to a trained observer. Simply walking into a room with confidence is an example of the effective use of body language. Grasping the back of the chair that sits before a desk and glimpsing at the interviewer for acknowledgment that this is the intended seat for the interviewee shows both strength and respect.
But deportment is much more than just body language. It is the sum of everything physical and emotional that an individual displays to those around them. In other words, it is the physical manifestation of character. Stepping livelier than normal can suggest a more energetic nature, and holding shoulders erect can imply greater physical strength. If you feel you have shortcomings or believe you project a less-than-confident image, you can work on your body language so that you assume a more confident appearance during an interview.
Your stance and posture while seated during an interview say a great deal about you. Those lessons of childhood and the constant reminders from mom to sit up straight, or the orders from your drill instructor during basic training to stand tall, chest out, shoulders back, now make sense. The purpose of all of that chiding was to prepare candidates for the day of their initial law enforcement interview.