Hiring Frequently Asked Questions

Are you Hiring?

Yes, our agency started 20 years ago and we have a large amount of loyal officers that started in the beginning and are getting towards retirement.   This isn’t just a problem at Federal Way, but many agencies in the NW.  Because of that, attrition will keep us hiring for a few years.  A large amount of officers that stay at an agency until they retire is a positive sign that the agency is a good place to work.

What is your tattoo policy?

All employees hired after 2014 are subject to our tattoo policy.  It basically restricts any tattoos on the neck, face, hands or areas that cannot be reasonably covered by a class A uniform (long sleeve shirt).   Tattoos on the forearms and legs that would be visible depending on the uniform (short sleeves, shorts) would need to be covered (not wear short sleeves/shorts or wear a covering sleeve).    

What is the testing process?

  1. Application Process

Complete a City of Federal Way application Link

  1. Schedule your Tests with PST

You need visit Public Safety Testing and create an account or add us as an agency that you want to apply to on your current account.  Link

Entry level applicants

Schedule a testing date with PST in Washington State.  (This test includes the Physical Ability Test and Written)

Lateral applicants

Schedule only a written test with PST.  If you are out of state, go to this link for directions or assistance

  1. Complete your personal history statement on-line

 This will need to be completed before you are considered for an invitation to the oral board.

  1. Civil Service list placement

Once you have successfully completed the test(s), your score will be sent to the civil service commission for validation.   The Civil service commission meets quarterly and upon validation of the list, they are entered into the active list of names.    Validated lists last for one year and additions to the list are publicly posted in the PD lobby and in City Hall. Link

          Your placement on the active list will depend on your score and how it rates within the current list.

     For example:  if you scored an 80 on the tests, you will be put into the active list of applicants that scored between 79 and 81, possibly ranking you at #15 overall.   If another list of names is added, or names that were already the list have expired and removed, you may move up or down in ranking.  The list is “fluid” and constantly changing monthly.     

  1. Oral Boards

We will pull 20-30 names from the top scoring applicants and schedule them for oral boards.   If you pass the oral board, you will be put in a queue and await  for your name to be pulled for a background interview.   This process takes time and patience is required.  Out of state lateral applicants oral interviews may be done through SKYPE.

  1. Background Interview and process

You will be contacted by email from the investigator and be scheduled for a personal in-depth interview.  This interview will take about two hours at the FW station, and will include fingerprinting. The  Entry level backgrounds can take up to a month and depending on caseload, maybe longer.

Out of state lateral applicant interviews may be conducted by phone.   When we have finished contacting references, we will call you to schedule a time to visit your current agency.  During this onsite visit, an investigator will review your personnel files, interview supervisors, and co-workers.  We will not contact the agency without your permission first, but, we cannot complete your background without this important step.  Please call if you have concerns or questions.  Lateral backgrounds can take two weeks, up to a month, depending on location and reference response.

  1. Chiefs Interview

Once the background is completed and you have met the requirements, you will be interviewed by the chief and if successful, given a conditional job offer and a start date.   You will then be scheduled for further testing (polygraph, medical, psychological).   When these are completed successfully, you will began work with FWPD.  

Out of state laterals chief interview and testing will take two days to complete.

What can I do to pass the background?

On a national average, 80% of the applicants will be disqualified during the background stage.  This is not because they are bad applicants, just applicants that have “secrets” that were found out during the investigation by the investigator.   Most of the time, they are small mistakes that if told to the investigator at the time of the initial interview, would not have disqualified them.

Be candid and complete with your personal history statement and do not leave anything out.  When you meet with the investigator, be open, truthful, and honest. Let us decide what is important or not.   Most background failures are due to an attempt to hide small mistakes.  Omission is the same as lying to the investigator, regardless of its content or importance to the investigation.

Keep your personal history statement updated until you are hired.

What do I need to score to be competitive?

That depends on the amount of people testing and how many applicants we go through to find qualified applicants. You should try to have a final score in the 90’s to be competitive (that could include military points if applicable).  But scores in the mid 80’s have been interviewed in the past.   If you have a chance to retest, you should try for a better score.

If I have been disqualified before, can I test again?

Yes, most agencies will not tell you why you disqualified, but if you think back to your interview, you may have a hint by some of the follow up questions that you may have been asked.  On your next background interview, ask the investigator if there is anything that might be an issue and listen to the response.   If your still unsure, read your history statement again or ask a friend to read it and see if they have any questions.  That is where you need to start.  Check the PST website to determine how long you have to wait to retest.  If you have documented issues of dishonesty (theft from employer, lying, ect..) You may think about another career or at least one that doesn’t interact with the court system.

How can I pass the oral boards?

The answer is based on your ability to articulate answers for questions that will be asked under your self induced stress.   The questions for the orals are designed to see if you can “think on your feet” when given a situational problem.  There are plenty of publications out there to read to provide oral board content, but if you are inexperience at talking to strangers, that is where you need to start your training.  You should always know your audience and learn about who you want to work for.  That is a basic building block of any interview and we are no different.

Why is my background taking so long?

Background duration is normally driven by the response times of the references.  Make sure you contact them and have them complete the online reference forms once you have been notified of your selection to start the background process.  It is okay to send an email to the investigator for updates, but no more than once every two weeks.

Why don’t agencies tell me why I was disqualified?

We rely on information from many sources to create a profile of applicants.  Many of those sources rely on anonymity to be able to provide the information and do not want DQ’d applicants calling them to demand what information was provided.   One negative report does not necessarily disqualify an applicant, we use many sources and each piece is weighted based on its relevance towards the position.  For example, a bad report from a job that occurred 10 years earlier is not necessarily bad, unless it shows a pattern over several jobs.


What is a “Brady Officer” and how does it affect me as a lateral candidate?

Brady was a court ruling that established that any police officer that has been shown to have lied during an official investigation must be identified and that it will be disclosed to the defense during a court process that the affected officer is a part of.   Because this information basically establishes the officer as “not credible”, we will not hire anyone that has been documented as a “Brady Officer.”   A few states do not formally establish a list of Brady officers, so if through the background process, we determine that the applicant should be on the list - we will disqualify that applicant immediately.   If you are not sure if you qualify for this list, call and we can answer any questions that you have.     

Have a question, feel free to send it to me and I will add it here for future applicants.