17 Correctional Counselor Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a correctional counselor, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Correctional counselors work with inmates in jails and prisons, providing mental health services and counseling. They also work with parolees and probationers, helping them adjust to life outside of prison.

If you’re looking to work as a correctional counselor, you’ll need to be prepared to answer a range of questions about your experience and qualifications. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the most common questions asked in a correctional counselor job interview, and give you tips on how to answer them.

Common Correctional Counselor Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working in a high-stress environment?

Working in a correctional facility can be stressful. The interviewer wants to make sure you’re comfortable with the level of stress that comes with this type of work. If you have experience working in high-stress environments, share your strategies for coping with stress. If you haven’t worked in a high-stress environment before, explain how you would cope with it.

Example: “I am very comfortable working in a high-stress environment. In my previous role as a counselor at an alternative school, I had to deal with many students who were experiencing emotional distress. My strategy was to remain calm and compassionate no matter what situation arose. This helped me diffuse tense situations and keep everyone safe.”

What are some of the most important qualities for a correctional counselor to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you possess the necessary skills and abilities to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your most important qualities and how they benefit you as a correctional counselor.

Example: “I believe that empathy is one of the most important qualities for a correctional counselor to have because it allows us to understand our clients’ situations and provide them with support. I also think patience is an essential quality because counseling sessions can sometimes take longer than expected, and having patience can help me remain calm when working with challenging inmates.”

How would you handle a situation where a prisoner is being aggressive or hostile towards you or other inmates?

This question can help interviewers understand how you react to stressful situations and whether or not you have the ability to remain calm. In your answer, try to demonstrate that you are able to stay composed in tense situations while also remaining firm and confident.

Example: “I would first make sure I was safe before attempting to diffuse the situation. If a prisoner is being aggressive towards me or other inmates, my first priority is ensuring their safety as well as mine. Once I feel comfortable that no one is at risk of harm, I will calmly explain why their behavior is unacceptable and what they need to do to change it. If they continue to be hostile, I will remove them from the area until they are ready to behave appropriately.”

What is your process for documenting any incidents or interactions you have with inmates?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle documentation and recordkeeping. Your answer should show that you are organized, detail-oriented and able to keep track of important information.

Example: “I have a system for keeping track of all my interactions with inmates. I use an electronic database program that allows me to create folders for each inmate and then subfolders for specific documents or notes I take during our meetings. This helps me stay organized and ensures that I don’t lose any important information about their case. It also makes it easy for me to share information with other counselors when necessary.”

Provide an example of a time when you helped an inmate improve their behavior or attitude.

This question can help the interviewer understand how you apply your counseling skills to improve an inmate’s behavior and attitude. Use examples from your experience that show how you helped inmates develop positive behaviors or attitudes, such as empathy, patience or responsibility.

Example: “In my last role, I worked with a young man who was in prison for his first offense. He had a lot of anger issues and would often get into fights with other inmates. One day, he got into another fight and ended up breaking someone else’s arm. The guards put him in solitary confinement until they could figure out what to do with him.

I met with him every day while he was in solitary confinement. We talked about why he kept getting into fights and how it affected his life. Eventually, we were able to work through his feelings and come up with strategies for managing his emotions when he felt angry. After two weeks, he was released back into general population.”

If an inmate asked you for advice on how to get away with committing another crime, what would be your response?

This question is a behavioral test that helps the interviewer determine how you would respond to an inmate who asks for advice on committing another crime. Your answer should show your commitment to upholding the law and protecting society from criminals.

Example: “I would tell them that I am not here to help them commit more crimes, but rather to help them learn how to live productive lives after they leave prison. If they asked me again, I would explain that if they committed another crime, it could result in additional time being added to their sentence.”

What would you do if you suspected one of the inmates in your cell block was bullying or harassing another prisoner?

This question can help interviewers assess your ability to handle conflict and resolve problems. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to take action when necessary. You may also want to mention how you would attempt to solve the problem in a way that is fair for everyone involved.

Example: “If I suspected an inmate was bullying or harassing another prisoner, I would first speak with them privately about my concerns. If they continued their behavior after this conversation, I would report it to my supervisor so they could address the situation. Bullying and harassment have no place in prison, and I believe it’s important to hold inmates accountable for their actions.”

How well do you think you can get along with a diverse range of people, including prisoners, corrections officers and other counselors?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to work with a variety of people. Use examples from past experiences where you’ve worked well with others, even if they were not in the same position as you.

Example: “I think I can get along with anyone because I’m always willing to listen to other people’s perspectives and opinions. In my last role, I had to counsel several inmates who were facing different charges and circumstances. Some of them were very angry or upset about their situations, but I was able to help them calm down and find ways to cope with their emotions. This helped me build trust with some of the more difficult prisoners.”

Do you have any experience working with inmates who have mental health issues?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have experience working with inmates who may need more support than others. It can also show them how you might handle such a situation in your current role. If you do not have any experience, consider talking about what you would do if faced with this scenario.

Example: “I haven’t worked specifically with inmates who have mental health issues, but I am familiar with some of the symptoms and warning signs. In my previous position, I had an inmate who was experiencing severe anxiety. I spoke to his counselor and learned that he was having panic attacks at night. We decided to move him to another unit where he could get more privacy and we could monitor him more closely.”

When counseling an inmate, do you prefer to work one-on-one or in a group setting?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your counseling style. Your answer should reflect the type of setting you prefer and why, as well as how you would adapt if necessary.

Example: “I find that one-on-one sessions allow me to get to know my clients better and build a trusting relationship with them. I can also focus on their specific needs and concerns without distractions or interruptions. However, I am flexible and understand that in some cases group counseling is beneficial for inmates. In those situations, I make sure to give each person equal attention and provide individual feedback.”

We want to ensure our inmates have access to the resources they need to better themselves. What type of resources would you recommend we provide?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would use your experience to improve the prison’s resources. Use examples from your previous work or describe what you would do if you were hired for this role.

Example: “I think it is important that inmates have access to mental health professionals, educational opportunities and vocational training. I believe these are essential in helping them develop skills they need to succeed after their release. In my last position, I worked with a program that provided counseling services to inmates who needed it. We also offered an education program where inmates could learn about different career options. Lastly, we had a vocational program where inmates could practice job skills like cooking and construction.”

Describe your experience working with juvenile offenders.

This question can help the interviewer determine your experience working with a specific type of offender. It can also show them how you might handle similar situations in their facility. Use examples from your previous work to highlight your skills and abilities.

Example: “I’ve worked with juvenile offenders for five years now, so I have plenty of experience with this age group. In my last position, I helped juveniles who were struggling with substance abuse issues. I would meet with them individually or in small groups to discuss their progress and any concerns they had about treatment. I also helped develop programs that allowed these teens to practice important life skills like budgeting and cooking.”

What makes you the best candidate for this correctional counselor position?

This question is your opportunity to show the interviewer that you are qualified for this role. Use examples from your experience and education to highlight your skills, knowledge and abilities.

Example: “I am passionate about helping others, which led me to pursue a career in counseling. I have worked with many different types of people, including those who struggle with addiction, mental illness and other issues. In my previous position as a correctional counselor, I helped inmates develop coping mechanisms and strategies for overcoming their challenges. This experience has given me valuable insight into what it takes to help someone overcome obstacles.”

Which strategies do you use to calm an upset or anxious inmate?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to handle challenging situations. In your answer, describe a time you helped an inmate feel more comfortable and calm. Explain how you used specific strategies or techniques to help the inmate.

Example: “When I worked as a correctional counselor at a juvenile detention center, I had one student who was very anxious about returning to school after winter break. She would often cry during our sessions together, which made it difficult for me to get her to open up. So, I started using some calming techniques with her, like deep breathing exercises and positive affirmations. After a few weeks of practicing these techniques, she became much more confident in herself and no longer cried during our sessions.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of your job as a correctional counselor?

This question can help an interviewer understand your priorities and how you would approach the job. Your answer should show that you are committed to helping inmates succeed in their rehabilitation, whether it’s through counseling or other methods.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of my job is ensuring that I am providing a safe space for inmates to discuss their feelings and concerns. Many people who end up in prison have experienced trauma or abuse, so having someone they can trust to listen to them without judgment is essential to their mental health. I also believe that education is key to rehabilitation, so I make sure to provide as many resources as possible for inmates to learn new skills.”

How often do you think an inmate should see a counselor?

Interviewers may ask this question to see how often you think inmates should meet with a counselor. They want to know if your counseling style is more or less frequent than the current system in place at their facility. In your answer, explain that you would like to meet with an inmate as frequently as possible while still maintaining a positive relationship with them.

Example: “I believe it’s important for inmates to have regular meetings with counselors because they can help inmates work through any issues they’re having and develop healthy coping mechanisms. I would like to meet with each of my clients once per week, but I understand that some facilities only allow monthly visits.”

There is a high turnover rate among our correctional counselors. How would you make sure you stay motivated and dedicated to the job?

This question is an opportunity to show your commitment and dedication to the role. It’s also a chance for you to explain how you would help others stay motivated in their roles.

Example: “I have seen many correctional counselors leave this job because of burnout. I understand that it can be challenging to work with people who are struggling, but I am committed to helping my clients find solutions to their problems. I know that if I keep my focus on the positive outcomes, I will be able to maintain my motivation. I plan to make sure all of my coworkers feel supported so they don’t feel like they’re alone.”


17 Athletic Academic Advisor Interview Questions and Answers

Back to Interview

17 Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialist Interview Questions and Answers