17 Police Captain Interview Questions and Answers

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

Police captain is one rank above police lieutenant and one rank below police chief. A captain is responsible for the supervision of personnel, the administration of programs, and the enforcement of laws and regulations.

Police captain is a highly respected position in law enforcement. In order to be promoted to this rank, you will need to successfully pass an interview. The interviewer will ask questions about your experience, your management style, and your ability to lead.

In order to help you prepare for your interview, we have put together a list of questions that you may be asked and sample answers.

Are you comfortable working long hours and on-call shifts?

Police work can be unpredictable, and employers want to make sure you’re prepared for that. They may ask this question to see if you have the flexibility to adapt to changing schedules. In your answer, explain how you handle unexpected situations. Explain that you are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Example: “I am comfortable working long hours when necessary. I know that police work is unpredictable, so I’m ready to adapt to any situation. If I need to stay late or come in early, I will do whatever it takes to ensure my team has everything they need to complete their tasks. I also understand that sometimes we have to respond to emergencies at all hours of the night. I am always available to help out.”

What are some of the most important skills for a police captain to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills and abilities to be successful in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they relate to the job.

Example: “I believe that communication skills are one of the most important skills for a police captain to have. As a captain, I would need to communicate with my team members about their assignments, as well as any changes or updates to those assignments. Another skill that is important is problem-solving. Captains often need to solve problems quickly and efficiently, so having strong problem-solving skills can be beneficial. Finally, leadership skills are also essential for captains. Captains lead teams of officers who may be new to the force, so being able to provide guidance and support is an important part of the job.”

How would you handle a situation where two of your officers were not getting along and it was affecting their work?

Police officers often work in close quarters, so it’s important that they get along. A hiring manager may ask this question to see how you would handle a situation like this and if you have any experience doing so. In your answer, try to describe what steps you would take to resolve the conflict between the two officers.

Example: “I’ve had to deal with situations where officers didn’t get along before, but I always make sure to give them plenty of time to resolve their issues on their own. If they can’t, then I’ll meet with both parties separately to hear each side of the story. Then, I’ll decide whether or not to implement disciplinary action for either party.”

What is your experience with leading large operations?

Police departments often need to lead large operations, such as protests or sporting events. The interviewer wants to know if you have experience with this type of leadership and how you handled it. Use examples from your previous work that show your ability to plan ahead and communicate effectively with a team.

Example: “In my last position, I led the department’s response to several large-scale protests. We had to ensure our officers were prepared for any situation while also maintaining order in the community. To do so, we developed a detailed plan before each protest and assigned specific roles to each officer. This allowed us to respond quickly to any issues without confusion.”

Provide an example of a time when you used your critical thinking skills to solve a problem.

Police captains need to be able to use their critical thinking skills to solve problems and make decisions. This question helps the interviewer determine how you apply your problem-solving skills in your previous roles. In your answer, explain a situation where you used your critical thinking skills to find a solution to a problem or challenge.

Example: “In my last role as a police captain, I had to decide whether we should send more officers to one area of town or another. I knew that sending too many officers to one area could leave other areas without enough protection. So, I decided to look at crime statistics from the past year to see which areas were most likely to have criminal activity. After looking at these statistics, I determined that it would be best to split our resources evenly between all three areas.”

If you could make one change to our department’s policies or procedures, what would it be?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of the department’s current policies and procedures, as well as how you would improve them. When answering this question, it can be helpful to think about what you like or dislike about the department’s current policies and procedures and use that information to answer the question.

Example: “If I could make one change to our department’s policies or procedures, I would implement a policy requiring officers to wear body cameras at all times while on duty. This would help ensure transparency in police interactions with civilians and protect both civilians and officers from false accusations. It would also provide evidence for any complaints filed against officers.”

What would you do if you learned one of your officers was involved in a controversial incident?

Police officers often have to make split-second decisions that can affect the lives of others. Sometimes, these decisions result in controversy and media attention. A police captain needs to be able to support their officers during these times. They also need to ensure the department is following protocol and procedures. In your answer, show the hiring manager you understand how important it is for a department to maintain its reputation.

Example: “If I learned one of my officers was involved in a controversial incident, I would first meet with them privately to learn more about what happened. Then, I would hold a meeting with all of my officers to remind them of our policies and expectations. I would also address any concerns they had about the situation or the department’s response.”

How well do you work under pressure?

Police work can be stressful, and the interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your ability to handle pressure. Police captains often have to make important decisions quickly, so it’s important that you’re able to think clearly under stress. In your answer, explain how you stay calm in high-pressure situations and give an example of a time when you did so successfully.

Example: “I’ve been working as a police officer for five years now, and I’ve learned that there are times when things get hectic on the job. When I’m faced with a situation where I need to make a quick decision, I try to remain calm and focus on the facts at hand. For instance, last week we were responding to a call when our dispatcher informed us that the suspect was armed. I took a moment to assess the situation and then gave my officers instructions on how to proceed.”

Do you have experience managing budgets?

The police department needs to know that you can manage the budget for your unit. This question helps them understand how well you can do this and if you have experience doing it. In your answer, explain what steps you would take when managing a budget. Explain any specific skills or software you use to help with this process.

Example: “I have experience managing budgets in my previous role as a police officer. I used an online budgeting tool to track our spending. It helped me stay organized and see where we could save money. I also worked with other officers to create monthly reports on our spending so we could discuss ways to improve.”

When it comes to law enforcement technology, are there any tools you’d like to see our department adopt?

Police departments are constantly looking for ways to improve their operations. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have any innovative ideas that could benefit the department and its officers. In your answer, share a specific technology or program that you think would be beneficial to the department. Explain why you chose it and how it might help law enforcement officials do their jobs more efficiently.

Example: “I’ve seen some police departments use body cameras on their officers. I think this is an excellent idea because it can provide evidence in situations where there is conflicting testimony from witnesses or other parties involved. It also helps protect our officers from false accusations of misconduct. If we were to implement body cameras, I would want to make sure that we had a policy in place about when officers must turn them on and off.”

We want to increase community engagement. What would you do to increase engagement from our community members?

Police departments often want to increase community engagement because it can help them solve crimes more quickly and improve relationships with the public. A police captain may be responsible for implementing programs that encourage citizens to report suspicious activity or provide tips about criminal activities in their neighborhoods.

Example: “I think one of the best ways we can engage our communities is by having open communication. I would hold regular town hall meetings where members of the public could ask questions, voice concerns and share ideas. I also plan on creating a citizen advisory board so that residents who are interested in helping the department can volunteer their time and expertise.”

Describe your leadership style.

Police captains are responsible for leading a team of officers. Employers ask this question to learn more about your leadership style and how you would approach the role. To answer this question, think about what type of leader you are. Try to describe yourself in terms that highlight your strengths as a leader.

Example: “I believe my leadership style is collaborative. I like to involve everyone on my team when making decisions. This helps me ensure that we’re all working toward the same goal. I also value transparency, so I make sure to keep my team informed about any changes or challenges within the department. By being open with my team, they feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their department. When answering, it’s important to highlight a skill or experience that makes you unique from other candidates. You may also want to mention something that is relevant to the job description.

Example: “I have been working as a police officer for five years now, but I still take continuing education courses to improve my skills. In fact, I recently completed a course on leadership development, which has helped me become a better captain. Another thing that makes me stand out is my ability to work well with others. I am always open to feedback and suggestions so that I can make improvements.”

Which police departments do you admire and why?

This question can help the interviewer learn more about your background and experience. It also helps them understand what you value in a police department. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention specific things that you admire about the department, such as their community outreach programs or how they handle internal investigations.

Example: “I have always admired the Seattle Police Department because of their commitment to transparency. They are one of the only departments that has an open-door policy for the public, which I think is important for maintaining trust with the community. In my last position, we were able to implement a similar policy where anyone could request to see our records on any case. This helped us build stronger relationships with the community.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of police work?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your values and priorities as they relate to police work. Your answer should reflect your commitment to upholding the law, protecting citizens and maintaining order in your community.

Example: “I think that the most important aspect of police work is ensuring that our officers are well-trained and equipped to protect themselves and others. I believe it’s also vital to ensure that we have strong relationships with other emergency services providers so that we can coordinate effectively during emergencies. Finally, I think it’s essential to maintain open lines of communication between the department and the communities we serve.”

How often do you think police officers should update their skills?

Police officers need to stay up-to-date on the latest laws, procedures and best practices. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand how important it is for police officers to keep their skills current. In your answer, explain that you think officers should take classes or workshops at least once a year. Explain that these trainings can help officers learn new strategies for solving problems and improving their departments.

Example: “I believe that all law enforcement professionals should attend training sessions at least once per year. These trainings give us an opportunity to learn about new technologies and techniques we can use in our jobs. I also think it’s important to have regular meetings with other members of my team. Regular communication helps me get to know my colleagues better and find ways to support them.”

There is a new law that allows officers to conduct random searches without probable cause. Do you support this law? Why or why not?

This question is a test of your knowledge of current laws and how you apply them to the job. Your answer should show that you understand the law, its purpose and how it can be used effectively in police work.

Example: “I support this law because it allows officers to search for illegal substances without having to meet the high standard of probable cause. This means we can conduct searches on people who are acting suspiciously or have been reported as carrying drugs. In my experience, these types of searches often lead to arrests and seizures of illegal substances.”


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