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When you apply for a job in law enforcement, you will have to answer a long list of police interview questions. Many police behavioral questions are used to determine how you would potentially handle a difficult situation with a superior, co-worker, or family member. The questions used for each officer will be different. Some may be chosen due to the contents of their application. Honesty is always the best policy. Never try to create a persona for yourself. Eventually, you will allow your walls to come down and others will see you for who you really are. Think about each question before you answer.
What values do you believe are most important when it comes to protecting the community?
Police officers are in charge of upholding the law. Police officer interview questions like this are meant to identify traits and characteristics you would expect an officer to have. It’s likely that you will offer these same characteristics since they are so important to you. Before you answer, make a list of your own core values and see how they compare.
A reporter tracks you down at home and asks for an anonymous statement about an important case. What do you do?
It’s important to remember that people’s right to now does not supersede the law. It is up to you to maintain the integrity of an investigation. The wrong comment at the right time could result in a case being dismissed and a dangerous person being allowed to roam the streets. No matter how much a member of the press tries to entice you, remember that as an officer of the law, it is your duty to serve and protect. If protecting the public requires your silence, stand firm on that decision.
How would you handle an unruly citizen?
Dealing with an unruly citizen is a very stressful situation. The key is to de-escalate the situation. Getting the person to talk about what is wrong is the key to calming them down. If they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their anger may get worse before it gets better. If at any time, you feel that the situation is no longer safe or controllable, using a taser may be your only option. Issue a final warning that the taser will be deployed and then follow through. It is essential at all times that you be as honest and transparent as possible when using any type of force.
How will you approach working with diverse populations?
Diversity is everywhere, even in smaller communities. Understanding that not everyone will respond the same to law enforcement is crucial. In areas where the police are looked at in a negative way, it will be up to you to bridge that gap and create a working relationship with them so that you can do your job more effectively. Diversity and inclusion are necessary parts of every community. It is up to you as police officers, to ensure that all groups feel protected and secure. Cultural differences shouldn’t divide a community or prevent law enforcement officers from doing their jobs.
What are things you might do to gain the community’s trust?
If you want people in the community to trust you, it’s important that you are both accessible and visible, especially when you aren’t needed. When you are out on patrol, stop and visit with people out in the community. Offer to help carry groceries in. Ask if you can join a kid’s basketball game in the park. Show the community that you are close by if they need you. Talk to neighborhood kids and offer to visit local schools and provide safety tips to students.
How would you de-stress after a long day?
The day-to-day life of a police officer can vary greatly. Some days may be incredibly slow with nothing to do but patrol local neighborhoods. Other days mean constant calls for car accidents, break-ins, and maybe the occasional domestic violence or assault and battery case. Every day will lead to some degree of stress. It’s important to learn how to relax once your shift is over and bring yourself back into balance. Working out at the gym, going for a walk, getting a massage, or practicing yoga are great ways to relax and let go of the tension that builds up throughout the day.
Why choose a law enforcement career?
There are several reasons for becoming a police officer. Some may choose to make it a career in the hopes of becoming a police chief. Others may choose to follow in the footsteps of their father or grandfather. A good answer would be that you want to serve and protect your community. Many job seekers may be interested in other law enforcement positions, like forensics or a private investigator. A crime scene analyst or photographer are also good choices. Entering the police academy or earning a criminal justice degree is often the best way to learn about all of the different career options that are available in law enforcement.
What traits does a good cop have?
A good cop has several traits that allow them to do their job as efficiently as possible. This includes:
- Exceptional communication skills
- Commitment to quality
- Willingness to learn
- Love working with the public
- Fitness; both mental and physical
Having these traits is beneficial, but in order to be a good cop, you must have the heart of someone who wants to serve others in every possible way.
How will you respond to an accusation of racism?
Racism has become the battle cry for almost any situation in which a person of color (any color) is injured or harmed in any way when in police custody. Any time the topic of racism is tossed around, handle the situation as diplomatically as possible. It’s essential that you remain neutral and listen to all sides. If an altercation has occurred, let the evidence speak for itself. Playing into the drama will only escalate the situation and draw more attention to it. Racism is an agenda that is continually used to divide communities. Put racial issues aside and start working together to find positive solutions.
What do you do to stay calm in dangerous situations?
Dangerous situations require a level head and quick thinking. It can be difficult to stay calm in these types of situations. Police officers have different ways to stay focused and not let the adrenaline get the best of them. Some use prayer. Others have mental exercises they use to remain alert and mindful of everything that is going on. Steady, deep breathing provides the brain with plenty of fresh oxygen to improve concentration and clearer thinking.
How do you handle your obligations when it comes to paperwork?
When your day is full of the more physical side of police work, it can be difficult to stay caught up with your paperwork. The only wrong answer when it comes to this type of interview question is to not do it. It may be difficult to complete your paperwork as each case is closed throughout the day. Although it’s best to work on them as best you can, some officers wait until the end of their shift to finalize it all and turn it in.
Why do you want to become a police officer?
When you are sitting in front of an interview panel, it’s important to be ready for any question they may ask. From how you will feel about a fellow officer committing a crime to giving a family member a citation, your answers must be clear, complete, and to the point. The interview process is meant to make you think about your decision. Similar to running the gauntlet, police interview questions are meant to make you question yourself. You need to know that you have the fortitude and determination to be able to live by the oath of a police officer.
What would you do if you witnessed another officer harming a suspect?
Witnessing an act of aggression by fellow officer can be disturbing. It’s up to you to make sure that the act stops and the incident is properly documented. Standing up for what is right is just as important as protecting your fellow officers In this situation, you must handle the situation as tactfully as possible while making sure all of the appropriate actions are taken.
How will you maintain a positive work/life balance when it comes to your family?
Maintaining a positive work/life balance is essential for having a successful career in law enforcement. Seasoned officers will give rookies career advice on how to maintain a healthy balance between obligations at work and at home. It’s important to work with your spouse to create a healthy home life, much like you work with your fellow officers to create a healthy work environment.
Every candidate for a law enforcement position must speak for themselves. While these sample answers may be able to give directions, they are not as good as a candidate answering in their own words. Police work isn’t for everyone. If you can answer these questions honestly and with a clear heart and mind, it’s a good possibility that you will be a successful officer.