First interview for a sworn police position.
July 25, 2013 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I've scored a first interview for a sworn position with a local police department! What questions should I be preparing for? I am already preparing answers for: "why law enforcement?" "why this agency?" "what do you know about our city?" "what are your strengths/weaknesses?" "what is reasonable suspicion/probable cause?" "what are you doing to prepare yourself for the work?" "where do you see yourself in five years?" The interview is supposed to last about a half hour.

I'm also planning on getting my car washed and getting the interior cleaned out the day before and treating everyone courteously on the way in. Any other general tips are fine, as well as tips for specific directions to consider going in with the questions I'm already thinking about.
posted by kavasa to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If I were interviewing people for such a position, I'd be most interested in how they respond to scenarios. It might be a good idea to think about important parts of an answer to 'given scenario x, how would you respond?' or 'can you give me an example of where you have dealt with x in the past?'.

Questions like this are more about being sure to include certain generic components in the response than the actual answer. This might be something like 'notify dispatch that I'm leaving the vehicle' or 'make sure my partner is safe before pursuing'. All I know about police work comes from watching 'Cops' and reading novels, but I hope you get the picture.
posted by dg at 8:18 PM on July 25, 2013

Where are you located? I live in the US and I have no idea what a "sworn police position" is, other than being some kind of police officer.
posted by alms at 8:28 PM on July 25, 2013

Body language and the ability to take control of a situation are probably something they're looking for, so Power Poses just before the interview couldn't hurt. (I haven't seen the video, but couldn't find the article I read)
posted by kjs4 at 9:00 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also am not sure what a sworn police position is (and a search turns up this very post, how meta) but I would be prepared to talk about specific incidents when you have handled things under pressure.

I'm interviewing people for an open position at my company right now, and one thing I want to know is why they want the job. Show some enthusiasm, that goes a long way.
posted by radioamy at 9:02 PM on July 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Congratulations! You will demonstrate your suitability through far more than your answers to the questions; they want to know whether you can handle yourself or are prone to fluster. Body language will be very important--posture, handshake, eye contact, etc.-- which means you should do whatever will make you go in feeling super confident and relaxed. Pay attention to details to show you have the requisite skills, e.g., remember names, shine your shoes, bring extra copies of all forms/resumes, use their ranks when adressing the interview team, etc. I would also expect a trick question designed to weed out vigilantes and hotheads.
posted by carmicha at 9:33 PM on July 25, 2013

On further reflection, if they're going to send you to training/a police academy there might not be any police procedural questions. However, it will probably be key to be absolutely scrupulously honest in all your answers so you don't get rejected due to some discrepancy they uncover during a background check. One other thing: practice projecting your voice and sounding both relaxed and authoritative.
posted by carmicha at 9:45 PM on July 25, 2013

Best answer: I have been on the interview panel to hire several police officers. They will most likely ask you about:

Why you want to be a part of their specific department-why them versus the next town over?

What are your career plans-they want to know if you are worth making an investment in sending to the academy or if you are just looking to move on in a year.

How you would respond to specific scenario questions-here they are looking for your understanding of the law, chain of command and respect for your fellow officers and the community member you are interacting with.

Your understanding of the chain of command-are you going to come in on day one with aspirations to be chief, or are you going to serve your time and work your way up while you learn?

Where I live the police officers seem to be a pretty tight-knight community. If you have worked for any other regional agency in any capacity, they will know someone there who can tell them all about you and why you didn't work out in whatever position you had with them/ the real reason you are leaving your current position.

My advice is to have a really good understanding of the community you will be working in, including the geography, community make-up and and potential political issues that may be at play in the area/ organization. Also, if you don't know how to answer a specific question because you are not familiar with the exact law that governs that scenario or how you may legally react in a given situation-say so-rather than making up an answer, tell them that you would need to have a better understanding of their departmental procedures to give a full answer.

carmicha is correct-they will be evaluating to see if you are a good fit with their department, your personality, and confidence level.
posted by JennyJupiter at 7:22 AM on July 26, 2013

Be yourself. Don't worry so much about "the right answers" because chances are the questions are immaterial, it's how you answer them that's important. Are you confident? Are you poised? Are you talking too much about guns?

Policing is delicate business, you have authority and power and a weapon and they want you to be strong and confident with using those things appropriately. They don't want you to be a power-hungry, jerkbag.

A half hour is nothing. Hiring on with the police department is a process. There's the initial interview to rule out nutjobs, jerkbags and psychos. Then there's a civil service test. Then the world's most thorough background check. Then a psyche test and evaluation. Then you go to school, where you can be dropped for nearly any reason at any point. Then a probationary period. Then, if you get through all of this, you'll be a police officer.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:42 AM on July 26, 2013

When someone I knew was preparing for an interview with a local (large urban) police force, he spent a lot of time researching the process on forums like this one though there are probably others for police/LEO. Obviously the advice needs a massive grain of salt, but some of the preparatory advice and suggestions for how to think about the answers was really solid. There might be a local board for your area as well.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:40 AM on July 26, 2013

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