Job interviews are stressful environments where proper preparation can mean the difference between getting the job and not being hired. Law enforcement is no different. Potential recruits must undergo a background check and frequently a multitiered interview process before a final decision is made. While the specifics of the interviews can vary from precinct to precinct, there are some general questions that are normally asked of police recruits.
One of the earliest questions that is likely to be asked addresses why you want to become a police officer and what is motivating you to apply to the police department. Some people are attracted to law enforcement positions because of the power they feel it gives them, and police recruiters are eager to weed out these types of personalities. There is no sure-fire right answer but be honest about what is appealing about the position and present your answer with confidence.
Another common question for law enforcement concerns your long-term goals if you get hired by the police department. Many people get into police work with a goal of advancing somewhere else, whether it be detective, narcotics officer, politics or other pursuits. If the interviewer has an idea of how you see your career trajectory, he can see if your goals are realistic in regards to the job you are being interviewed for.
Police recruiters want to know what attributes you have that separate you from everyone else looking to be a police officer. Touch on any military experience that you have, any previous law enforcement history or any other unique experiences that are unlikely to be matched by other interviewees. Be as specific as possible. Instead of saying that you are good a leader, explain a situation where you exhibited leadership abilities.
One question that interviewees are often reluctant to answer concerns what they feel they need to improve upon. Police recruiters frequently use this question as a way of gauging a subject's honesty as well as his self-evaluation abilities. It is also a way of seeing if the interviewee is on the same page as the interviewer. If the interviewer is concerned about the physical condition of the applicant and the applicant says that he plans on working on his conditioning, it can lessen that concern.
You will be subjected to a background check before you can be hired for a police position, but it will also be brought up in your interview so you should be prepared to speak honestly about any previous arrests, traffic accidents, drug use or legal problems. The less defensive you are about discussing these subjects, the less likely they can harm your chances of being hired. You will also be asked about your medical history and if you are willing to undergo a psychological screening. Your credit history may also be examined. Prepare to discuss these issues in advance so your answers are concise and accurate.