If you were in the military, the panel will ask you about your time in the service. They will want to know which branch you served in, what was your highest rank, and what were your duties and responsibilities. If you saw combat, you should mention it to the panel. They will also want to know what type of discharge you received. They may ask you why you left the military.
If you received a medical discharge, the panel will explore this. They will want to know what percentage is your disability. They will also inquire as to the specific nature of your disability. You will need to show that you can perform the full range of duties required of a law enforcement officer.
If you are a very inspired individual – which is wonderful – keep your response toned down. That is, be enthusiastic, but not overly so. Speak, for example, about your desire to make your community a safer place to live in, and how it has been your dream since your youth. Don't be afraid to mention the obvious advantages that go along with the job – respect, good fringe benefits, and whatever else has attracted you.
After asking you about your qualities, expect them to ask you about the areas you feel you need to improve. You are not telling them that you are weak or terrible, but you are admitting there are things you could strengthen. This is not the time to air your personal laundry. Choose one or two items, state them and state how you are working to improve them. If you don't mention anything, then you are portraying yourself as being perfect and the panel will feel that you are not being truthful.
All they are looking for is a yes answer. If you add anything to your yes response or you respond with a no, then you open yourself up for additional questioning.
Here's where something more than the vague “it's the best department” is appropriate. You need to be more specific. First hand knowledge of the agency that you have gained from doing ride-alongs or talking to the officers is crucial to helping you to come up with an answer that is truthful and works.
For example, maybe, after riding with a variety of agencies in your area, you were particularly impressed at how officers on a particular shift handled people at calls for police service with dignity and respect which reflects how you want to practice the art of policing. Or perhaps you found that the agency is heavy into DUI and traffic enforcement, which has meaning for you since a relative died from a drunk driver crash.
If you are currently using any illegal drugs, then you will not pass the interview. You cannot break the law while at the same time seek a position which enforces the law. You should openly admit to any previous drug usage. Each agency has certain parameters as to the type of drug and the amount of usage they will accept. If you fall outside of these parameters, there is nothing you can do but apply with another agency.
If you smoked a joint a few times in high school or college, admit to it. This does not necessarily disqualify you. As long as the panel believes this was an infrequent occurrence in your past, and that you are now a responsible adult, you should pass this portion of the interview.
The reality is you should apply with every agency you are interested in. Putting all of your eggs in one basket greatly limits your chances of getting into law enforcement. Do not be afraid to answer this question. Tell them every agency you have applied with. They may even ask you what your hiring status is with these other agencies. This does not make you look bad. It shows you are determined to get into law enforcement.
This is not the time to ask about salaries and benefits. The candidate should have determined this type of information from other sources such as the department's website, speaking with the recruiter or staff in human resources. Rather, the individual should use this as an opportunity to give a 30- to 45-second summary of his/her strong attributes and how he/she will be a valued contributor to the department. Thank the assessors for taking the time to meet with him/her and a willingness to meet at anytime to continue in the selection process.
When preparing for the interview, it is important for the applicant to identify potential questions that are likely to be asked and practice their responses. While the interview process is different for every department, many ask some of the same basic questions. No list can be comprehensive, many of the most common questions asked during an interview are include below.
This question allows you to brag on yourself, but keep in mind that the interviewer wants strengths relative to the position. For example, being a problem solver, a motivator, and being able to perform under pressure, positive attitude and loyal. You will also need examples that back your answers up for illustration of the skill.