Interview

23 Police Interview Questions and Answers

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

Police officers are the first line of defense against crime and disorder in our communities. They patrol our streets and investigate crimes, and they work to prevent crime and keep our neighborhoods safe.

To become a police officer, you must first pass a rigorous selection process that includes a written exam, physical fitness test, oral interview, and background investigation. If you make it through these tough steps and are offered a job, you’ll need to be prepared to answer common police interview questions.

In this guide, you’ll find several police interview questions and answers, including questions about your experience in law enforcement and questions about your ability to handle difficult situations.

Use these resources to help you prepare for your interview and land the job you want.

What interests you about being a police officer?

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about you as an individual and how your personality might fit in with their department. When answering this question, it can be helpful to focus on specific aspects of police work that interest you most.

Example: “I am drawn to law enforcement because I love helping people. I find it rewarding to use my skills to solve problems and make sure everyone involved is safe. I also enjoy being able to enforce the law while still upholding justice. In my last position, I was able to help someone who had been wronged by another driver get compensation after filing a report. It felt good to know that I could help them out.”

Why do you want to work for our department?

This question can help the interviewer learn more about your knowledge of their department and how you researched it. They may also want to know if you have any personal connections to the area or if you’re looking for a change in scenery. When preparing your answer, make sure to highlight what attracted you to this specific police force.

Example: “I applied here because I’ve always admired the work that you do in this community. I grew up in this town and remember when this department was founded. I think it’s important to support local law enforcement, especially since they are often underfunded. I would love to be part of this team and continue to serve my hometown.”

What are your career goals?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have realistic expectations about your career path. It also helps them understand whether or not you are a good fit for their department and community. When answering this question, it is important to be honest about what you want out of your career. You should also explain how your goals align with those of the police department.

Example: “My goal is to become a detective within five years. I know that there is a lot of hard work ahead of me, but I am prepared to put in the effort. I believe my skills as an investigator will make me a valuable asset to this department. I would love to use my investigative skills to solve cases and protect the citizens of this city.”

How would your coworkers describe you?

This question can help the interviewer get to know you better and understand what your coworkers think of you. It also helps them determine if you would be a good fit for their department. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention specific qualities that your coworkers have mentioned in the past.

Example: “My coworkers would probably say I am very dedicated to my job. They would tell you that I always show up on time and ready to work. They would also say that I am friendly and easy to talk to. If they ever need advice or someone to listen, I’m always there for them.”

What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and see if you have any unique hobbies or interests. They want to make sure that you will fit in with the rest of their team, so they are looking for people who share similar interests. When answering this question, try to think of something that is not too out there but still shows a bit of your personality.

Example: “I love playing sports, especially basketball. I play on a local league every week and it’s a great way to get some exercise and meet new people. It also helps me relieve stress after a long day at work.”

What is your greatest accomplishment?

This question is a great way to learn more about your personality and values. It can also help the interviewer get to know you better as an individual. When answering this question, it’s important to choose something that shows your dedication to law enforcement. You may want to choose an accomplishment that relates to police work or public service.

Example: “My greatest accomplishment was when I helped solve a case where a young girl went missing. We worked for days on end trying to find her, but we had no leads until one of my colleagues found some evidence in the woods. We followed up on that lead and eventually found the girl alive. She was safe at home with her family because of our hard work.”

Do you have any questions about the job?

This question is a great opportunity to show your interest in the position and learn more about it. Before you go into the interview, think of two or three questions that will help you decide if this job is right for you. Make sure they are relevant to the role and try not to ask anything that can be found on the department’s website.

Example: “I noticed that there is a lot of paperwork involved with this job. I am wondering what kind of software you use to keep track of all the information. Also, how often do you get out on patrol? I love interacting with people and would like to spend as much time doing that as possible.”

Tell me a little bit about your background in law enforcement.

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your experience and background in law enforcement. This can help them determine if you have enough experience to be successful on their police force. When answering this question, it can be helpful to include information about your education, training and any certifications you may have.

Example: “I graduated from the University of California with a degree in criminal justice. After graduation, I worked as a security guard at a local mall where I was able to use my skills to prevent crime. I also took an online course that certified me as a private investigator. While working there, I learned how to gather evidence and solve problems. Eventually, I applied for a position with the city’s police department.”

What training have you completed as a police officer?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you are committed to your career and have a desire to learn more about law enforcement. When answering this question, list any training courses or certifications you’ve completed in your previous role as a police officer. If you’re applying for a position with a smaller department, include any additional training you’ve received from your department or other organizations.

Example: “In my last position, I took part in several training courses on deescalation techniques, conflict resolution and how to handle active shooter situations. I also attended a two-day course on diversity awareness where we discussed different cultures and their unique challenges. This helped me understand how to better serve all members of our community.”

How would you describe yourself in terms of integrity?

Police officers must be honest and trustworthy. They are often in situations where they can take advantage of their authority, but this is not acceptable behavior. When answering this question, you should emphasize your commitment to honesty and integrity.

Example: “Integrity is one of my most important values. I would never lie or cheat because it’s unfair to the people around me. In fact, when I was a teenager, I had a friend who cheated on a test. I told the teacher about what happened, even though he could have gotten into trouble for it. He ended up getting an F on the assignment, but I knew that was better than him getting away with cheating.”

How would you rate your communication skills?

This question is an opportunity to show the interviewer that you can communicate effectively with others. Showcase your communication skills by describing a time when you used them to solve a problem or help someone in need.

Example: “I have always been good at communicating with people, and I find it easy to talk to anyone. In my last position as a police officer, I responded to a call where a man was threatening suicide. I talked to him for over an hour until he finally agreed to go to the hospital. He later thanked me for saving his life.”

What qualities make a great police officer?

This question is a great way to show the interviewer that you have what it takes to be a police officer. It also allows you to share your personal values and how they relate to being an effective law enforcement professional. When answering this question, make sure to highlight qualities that are important to you personally as well as those that are essential for any good police officer.

Example: “A great police officer needs to be someone who can remain calm in stressful situations. They need to be able to think clearly when making decisions and communicate effectively with others. I believe empathy is an important quality of a good police officer because it helps them understand the perspective of both parties involved in a situation. A great police officer should also be someone who has integrity and honesty.”

How do you handle criticism?

Police officers often face criticism from the public. Employers ask this question to make sure you can handle negative feedback and learn from it. In your answer, explain how you respond to criticism in a positive way. Share an example of when you faced criticism and responded well.

Example: “I understand that I am not perfect. When someone criticizes me or my department, I take it seriously. I try to listen to what they have to say and use it as an opportunity to improve myself or our policies. For instance, last year, there was a citizen complaint about one of my colleagues. I listened to their concerns and investigated the situation. We found out that the officer had made a mistake but also learned ways we could prevent similar situations in the future.”

How do you remain calm during stressful situations?

Police officers often encounter stressful situations, such as dangerous traffic stops or emergency calls. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the ability to remain calm and focused during these moments. In your answer, share a specific example of how you remained calm in a high-pressure situation. Explain what steps you took to stay calm and collected.

Example: “When I was on patrol, I responded to an emergency call where two men were fighting outside of a bar. One man had a knife, and he was threatening the other man with it. When I arrived at the scene, I parked my car behind the suspect’s vehicle so that he couldn’t drive away. Then, I called for backup and calmly talked to both men until more officers arrived. By remaining calm, I was able to diffuse the situation before anyone got hurt.”

What is your favorite thing about being a police officer?

This question is a great way to learn more about the candidate’s personality and values. It also helps you understand what they like most about their current job, which can be an indicator of how well they will fit in with your department. When answering this question, it can be helpful to think about why you became a police officer in the first place.

Example: “My favorite thing about being a police officer is helping people. I love knowing that when someone calls 911 for help, I am going to show up and do everything I can to make sure they are safe. I feel so fortunate to have a career where I get to use my training to help others.”

What would you change about being a police officer?

This question is a way for the interviewer to see how you react to challenges. They want to know that you are willing to improve yourself and your department, even if it’s just by sharing what you would change about their current policies or procedures. Your answer should show that you’re open to feedback and improvement.

Example: “I think there could be more training on de-escalation techniques. I’ve seen too many situations where officers have used excessive force when they could have resolved the situation without harming anyone. I’d like to see us implement more training in this area so we can avoid these situations.”

Describe a time when you had to use force to subdue an individual.

Police officers are often required to use force in their line of duty. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience with using force and how you react under pressure. In your answer, try to explain what happened without making the person look bad. Try to focus on your actions rather than theirs.

Example: “I was called to a domestic disturbance where a man was threatening his wife. When I arrived, he was holding a knife to her throat. He refused to put it down when I asked him to. I had no choice but to draw my weapon and aim at him. He finally dropped the knife and surrendered. We were able to get him help after that.”

Tell me about a time when you made a significant error on the job. How did you handle it?

Police officers must be able to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations. Sometimes, these decisions can lead to errors that affect the outcome of a case or even someone’s life. An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your ability to admit fault and take responsibility for your actions. In your answer, try to demonstrate how you learned from your mistake and grew as a result.

Example: “In my first year on the force, I responded to a call where a man was threatening his wife with a gun. When I arrived at the scene, the husband was standing outside while his wife remained inside the house. I drew my weapon and ordered him to drop his weapon several times before he finally complied. He put down the gun and raised his hands above his head. However, when I entered the home, I realized that the woman had been hiding behind her husband the entire time. She picked up the gun and shot me before I could react.”

What would you do if you felt like you were being treated unfairly by your superiors?

Police officers are often in positions of authority, so it’s important that they can work well with their superiors. Employers ask this question to make sure you know how to handle these situations and remain professional. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to resolve the situation. Show that you understand the importance of following orders from your superiors.

Example: “If I felt like my superiors were treating me unfairly, I would first try to speak with them about it. If we couldn’t come to an agreement, I would go up one more level until I could find someone who could help us reach a resolution. I would always be respectful when speaking with my superiors, even if I disagreed with their decisions. I believe that as long as I am doing my job well, I should have no problem working with my superiors.”

What methods do you use to identify suspicious behavior?

Police officers need to be able to identify suspicious behavior in order to enforce the law. Your answer should show that you have experience with this skill and can apply it effectively. You can describe a situation where you used your observation skills to help someone or prevent a crime.

Example: “I use my senses of sight, hearing and smell to assess situations for any signs of danger. For example, I once responded to a call about a man who was acting strangely at an apartment complex. When I arrived, I noticed he had blood on his hands and clothes. He also smelled like alcohol. I asked him if he knew anyone at the complex, but he said no. I then asked him to empty his pockets, which revealed a set of keys. He told me they belonged to one of the apartments.

After further questioning, we determined that he broke into the apartment and was hiding inside when the owner returned home. I used my observations to determine that he was not a resident of the complex and needed to investigate further.”

How would you handle a situation where you witnessed a fellow officer doing something illegal or unethical?

This question is a test of your integrity and commitment to the law. It’s important that you answer honestly, but also show that you can be discreet when necessary.

Example: “If I witnessed an officer doing something illegal or unethical, I would report it immediately. However, if I was unsure about what I saw, I would ask for clarification before reporting anything. If I reported something without being sure, it could lead to more problems than necessary. In my experience, most officers are ethical and committed to upholding the law. I would hope that other officers would do the same for me.”

How would you deal with a person who was unwilling to talk to you regarding a case you’re investigating?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to communicate with people. In your answer, try to demonstrate that you can be empathetic and use good judgment when interacting with citizens.

Example: “If I were interviewing a person who was unwilling to talk to me about a case, I would first make sure they understood why I needed their information. If they still refused to cooperate, I would explain the consequences of not talking to me and reiterate how important it is for me to gather all the facts. I would also tell them that I could always return if they changed their mind.”

How do you feel about the way our department conducts itself?

This question is a way for the interviewer to assess your feelings about their department and how you might fit in. It’s important to be honest, but also positive. You can mention specific things that appeal to you about the department or highlight any aspects of the department that you’re unsure of.

Example: “I think it’s great that this department has such an active social media presence. I’ve seen some of the work you do on Twitter and Instagram, and I think it’s really cool that you interact with citizens like that. I’m not sure if all departments are doing that yet, so I think it’s pretty progressive.”

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