Sunday, March 21, 2010

CHP Interview

So on Thurs the 18th I went in for my interview with the Ca Highway Patrol. I was excited for this interview. I was a little nervous too as it was an interview of course. But I felt really well prepared for the interview so I was excited more than I was nervous. I had met with a guy I know from church who worked for 31 years with Simi PD. He was the head of the SWAT team and I think the asst chief or something (2nd in command, I think) anyway I knew he would be helpful. I met with him the Fri before and we talked for almost and hour and a half. We went over some interview questions I could maybe expect and I would tell him a response. Most of them he said were really good answers. He also gave me some advice on other things I could expect and I was able to ask him some questions I had etc. It was a nice opportunity for me to be ready. He told me that based on our discussion I would do really well. That I had really good responses for the questions he was asking me.

This is how things went: I got ready at home but instead of putting on my blouse since my mom had just ironed it for me (thanks mom, you're the best) I put on a white shirt I usually wear as an undershirt and had my skirt etc all on already. This way my blouse stayed wrinkle free and it was also free from toothpaste dripping makeup smudges etc. I was ready to go. I got in the car and on the way I actually listened to a talk on CD that I had called "Saying I Love You" by Todd Parker. I had never listened to it before but it seemed like a good time. During it he mentioned the CHP! So that was kind of cool. It was a really good message but could also make an emotional person kind of sad and maybe even cry. But I held back the tears. So as I got into Ventura I pulled into a parking lot about a block from the CHP office. That is where I put on my blouse and made sure my make-up was still nice etc. I was ready to go. I had on my blouse a black skirt, nylons and small/short black heels. I pulled into the CHP office put away my phone and my ipod in my car, and went inside. I was early.

I got there about 14:08 (or 2:08) and my interview time was for 14:30. I figured I would rather be really early and wait than to be just on time or late. Even if they were not ready for me early. The guy at the desk called the communication supervisor to let her know I was there but she wasn't answering. He said that she might be in another interview at the time and I said it was no problem because I knew I was early. I sat down and waited. Some other people came in for car stuff and they helped them with their stuff. I waited. After I had been waiting a little while I saw a lady walking someone out and thought "maybe it's my turn" This is how the two ladies were dressed; the first lady had on a pair of jeans, and a black shirt. Not a tee-shirt but not a dress shirt either. Just a comfy black shirt. The other lady was wearing soft black pants, they were not jeans but they weren't dress slacks either. She had on a green printed V-neck stretchy shirt. and was wearing a black hat. It was kinda like the hat a train conductor wears but it was solid black with a bow above the bill. She was the one who left. The other lady said to me "Renee?" and I said yes. I got up and shook her hand and she introduced herself to me as Joanne. She told me she needed my drivers license and social security cards to make photocopies. I handed them to her from my mini purse I had brought in. (I left my purse hidden in my car, I brought in a little bag with my keys, a CHP bracelet I got at the fair, some lotion and my ID/SS cards which I knew they needed. She said she had to take me around through the back and so I followed.

We walked through the dispatch center and everyone was dressed in jeans and shirts. So that was kinda cool. I had thought I would be wearing a CHP uniform if I got hired but I guess not. She asked me to walk through and wait by the coffee machine so she could make the copies. So I waited. She came back gave me my cards and we went outside another door and into a bungalow little building. There was another lady in there. I said hi and that I remembered her from the testing day, but that I wasn't sure of her name. She said it was Anne. I told her I thought that might be it but didn't want to embarrass myself if that wasn't her. She shook my hand and as we sat down she asked if I was supposed to be there at 14:30 and I said "yes". She made a comment on how she loves people that are early.

We started out by them having me read and sign a paper about Sec 102 or something for the state of CA employees. It talked about working with integrity and so forth. It was talking about having good morals in the workplace etc. So I read and signed it and they asked me what it meant to me in my words. So I basically told them what I just wrote. That it meant to always do the best job you can do and to not try to cheat others or cut corners. To do the job assigned and to "follow the rules" or so things the way we're taught. Etc. Then we went over my 9 page PHS (Personal History Packet) that I had filled out and had returned the week prior. It was paperwork about previous work history, employment, schooling etc. There was also a page about drug use. It was all blank. So if there were anything I had forgot to mark or any discrepancies on stuff aside from what my original application had shown they asked me about it and i made any necessary changes at that time in red ink. During that time they got to ask me what my job was like on the ambulance and what I did there, as well as during my customer service time at Albertsons. So once we were done with that part I signed that paper again in their presence.

During this "interview" time they also had asked me about training. They told me that if I were to be hired I would need to go on two separate trips to Sacramento, for two weeks straight for training classes. They asked if that would be a problem. I told them no, that in fact it would be vacation. That I didn't mind some time away from my family. They smiled. I told them it wasn't a problem and that I like to travel so I didn't mind traveling for training. They also told me that for a probationary employee the schedule is frequently changing and that I would have to work all the shift times and varying days and asked if that would be an issue. I told them no that I was used to varying hours and had worked 12,24,36,48 hour shifts etc on the ambulance and so I was able to handle working all day or all night as needed. They asked me if I was able to sleep on those shifts. I told them that we had beds at the station but that sometimes it was really busy and so even though we had a bed to sleep in we couldn't always use them. Sometimes we'd get in bed and sleep all night, other times we'd get in bed and get woken up for calls. You never knew. I told them that I do prefer to have my Sunday's off when possible but that I know it is not always possible. That I know as a new employee I have no control over it but that I would hope down the road as I gain seniority I would be able to work it out that way.

Then they said they were giving me a brief typing test. That I would need to follow the instructions and that I would have 3 minutes to complete it starting at the time I began typing. I was taken to the computer and they showed me off to the left a form with the brief instructions. I was told to begin when ready. I read the instructions and it said to put my name and ssn on the top line then starting the next line or whatever to type in essay form why I feel I should be considered for the job or why I should be hired. Something along those lines. I wrote something like "I have always chosen to work in public service jobs. I enjoy being able to work in service opportunities. I have experience working in stressful situations from my emergency medical job experience. I also have experience in multi-tasking from both my jobs in emergency medicine as well as at Albertsons. I know that I can do this job and I know that I can continue to better myself and to learn and grow working for CHP. I look forward to being able to work with you.".... that's about what I wrote prob not verbatim but close to it. I know that if they were checking my typing speed based on the words I wrote and the 3 min time than it may not be as fast as my typing certificate showed because being on the spot and typing my answers was not what I was expecting. I was mostly ready for the question during the interview but with it being in that format it caught me off guard. I wanted to get the most basic but honest answer I could in my "essay".

When my essay time was up they told me they were going to give me another test next. I said "ok" I didn't have any problem with that either. I was taken to another desk and was told Anne was going to go into the dispatch center and call me. It was going to be me as a "dispatcher" answering a 911 emergency call. I was given a sheet of paper for my notes. Joanne showed me which line Anne was going to call on, and how to put the phone onto speaker. Before Anne called I started making notes on the left side of my paper of things I would need to ask based on what type of emergency call it was. I was thinking of who/what when/where etc. I also made notes for descriptions of people, hair/eye color, sex, clothing, shoes,etc as well as vehicle description stuff, make, model, license number, color etc. Then the phone rang this is basically how it went, it may have been in a slightly different order but you get the main idea:

Me: 911 emergency what are you reporting? (I was told to answer that way)
Anne: traffic accident
Me: Where is the accident?
Anne: 101 northbound just before Telephone Rd
Me: Were you involved in the accident or just a witness?
Anne: Not involved just saw it
Me: did you stop or keep driving?
Anne: I kept driving
Me: How many vehicles were involved?
Anne: 2 vehicles and a big rig
Me: are they blocking any lanes on the freeway?
Anne: All the lanes are blocked
Me: Are you able to give me a description of the vehicles? Were you able to see them?
Anne: a red Ford pickup, a black Nissan and a white Big rig
Me: is there anything else you can think of you need to tell me?
Anne: It looks like there are injuries please hurry
Me: We already have units responding, can I please get your name and number in case we have any further questions and because you are a witness?
Anne: Willie Black 626-###-#### (I don't remember what she told me sorry)
Me: Ok thank you ma'am I just want to verify your name was Willie Black and your number was #
Anne: Yes
Me" Ok thank you for the call

So that was it. As I was hanging up the phone Joanne told me that I had done really well. I went back to the desk we had originally been at and sat across from her. She told me that nobody else had asked which lanes were being blocked on the freeway but it's important to know because as CHP we may have to shut down the freeway or the lanes etc. So then Anne came back in and told me I did really well and asked Joanne what she thought and Joanne told her she had also told me I did really well. Then Anne told me that the dispatchers in the other room had commented that she hadn't given a phone number to anyone else. She said that they didn't ask for one and that if somebody didn't ask a question she wasn't going to answer it. Like for me I said was there anything else to report and she told me about the injuries which I didn't directly ask about (I hadn't asked because she had said she drove by without stopping) so then Joanne told her "well she also got all the info you gave her written down" (I had been writing while on the phone) so Anne said "Really can I see?" so I gave her my notes paper. I said "don't look at the left side that was before you called I was thinking ahead in case during the call I couldn't remember what else to ask" and she said "you wrote that before I called?" I said "yes" so then as she is looking she said "you are the only one who re-worded that" I asked what and she said you wrote down "101NB, South of Telephone Rd", I said "that's what you told me" she said "I said "101NB just before Telephone Rd" (at that point I noticed on the table the paper she had for the call and the responses she was to give and it did in fact say just before Telephone). I could see on the paper all the highlighted responses I don't know if it was highlighted before she went in the other room so she could find them or if she highlighted as I asked them for verification I didn't miss anything. But anyway they both said I did really well on the call part.

So then they asked me if I had any questions at all. When I had met with Pres Harper he had told me a good thing to ask about would be where the academy/training would be and how long would it last. We had also discussed me asking about the schedule/shifts. So having already been told about the 2 separate 2 weeks in Sacramento I said "well I know online on the CHP website it said that there was 4 weeks of training in either Riverside or Sacramento but you said two 2 wks in Sacramento." so it is broken up? Joanne told me yes that I would begin and would go for 2 weeks for the phone training and would be taught all the phone stuff I needed and then would come back here and be working 1 on 1 with a trainer here answering phones for a month or however long, then would go back to Sacramento to be taught the radio communications with the officers and would come back and do the 1-1 for the radios. So then I asked what the schedules were like, how long were the shifts, did they do a rotating schedule or same days? They said they currently work four 10 hour shifts a week. That during the first year/probationary period I would probably get a schedule change every month so that I could rotate through the different shifts/times. So that each month I would likely have different days off. Then once done with probation it would probably be every 3 months it could change.

That was about it. I was told that they were interviewing that day, Fri and this coming Thurs. That they would be making a decision this coming Fri and that they would then send out letters for the next step which is the background investigations. They asked me if I had anything in my background that I would need to reveal to them and I said no. That I couldn't think of a single thing that I needed to report. So I told them I was looking forward to hearing from them and shook their hands. Joanne was going to walk me back to the front since I wouldn't be able to get in/out of all the doors because some are locked. As we went back through the dispatch center one lady told me she loved my skirt. I told her thanks. Then back in the front office I said thank you again and shook Joanne's hand before I left.


  1. Renee, that is AWESOME!!! I knew you'd do so well! Your experience as an EMT I think is a huge plus, and helped you to think about those things that the other people didn't think of. You did so great. I am so glad to hear it. GUSH GUSH GUSH. Yay!

  2. Renee, that is AWESOME!!! I knew you'd do so well! Your experience as an EMT I think is a huge plus, and helped you to think about those things that the other people didn't think of. You did so great. I am so glad to hear it. GUSH GUSH GUSH. Yay!

  3. Oh, lovely, it published that twice. Now everyone will know my secret identity... ;o)