17 Police Investigator Interview Questions and Answers

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

Police investigators are responsible for conducting criminal investigations and gathering evidence to support prosecutions. They work with other law enforcement officers to identify suspects, collect and analyze evidence, and interview witnesses. Police investigators may work for a city police department, a state police department, or a federal law enforcement agency.

If you want to become a police investigator, you’ll need to be able to answer questions about your investigative experience and skills. You’ll also need to be able to talk about your knowledge of criminal law and evidence collection procedures. In this guide, we will provide you with questions and answers that you can expect in a police investigator interview.

Common Police Investigator Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working in high-pressure situations?

Police investigators often work in high-pressure situations, such as when they’re interviewing a suspect or conducting an investigation. Employers ask this question to make sure you can handle the stress of the job and that you have good time management skills. In your answer, explain how you stay calm under pressure and manage your time well.

Example: “I am comfortable working in high-pressure situations because I know how important it is to remain calm and focused. When I’m in a situation where there’s a lot of pressure, I take deep breaths to help me relax. Then, I focus on what I need to do next so I don’t get overwhelmed by all the tasks at hand. I also use my time wisely by prioritizing my tasks and making sure I complete them before the end of the day.”

What are some of the most important skills you have for this job?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you view the role. They want someone who is qualified for the job, but they also want someone who will be a good fit with their department. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention skills that are directly related to the job description.

Example: “I think one of the most important skills for this position is communication. I am very comfortable speaking in front of large groups and presenting information clearly. Another skill I have is my attention to detail. I am always looking for clues or evidence that might help me solve a case. Finally, I think problem-solving skills are essential for this job. Every day presents new challenges, so I need to be able to find solutions.”

How would you approach an investigation into a murder?

Police investigators often have to conduct interviews and collect evidence in order to solve a crime. Interviewers ask this question to see how you would approach an investigation that requires a lot of time, effort and attention to detail. Use your answer to highlight your ability to work independently and efficiently.

Example: “I would start by interviewing the victim’s family members and friends to learn more about their relationship with the deceased. I would also interview any witnesses who may have seen something suspicious or relevant to the case. After conducting these interviews, I would analyze all of the information I collected to determine if there are any patterns or connections between the people involved. This helps me narrow down my list of suspects and leads me to the person responsible for the murder.”

What is your experience with collecting and analyzing evidence?

Police investigators use evidence to solve crimes. They collect and analyze physical, biological and digital evidence to determine what happened during a crime. Interviewers ask this question to learn about your experience with handling evidence in the field. Use examples from your previous job to explain how you handled evidence collection and analysis.

Example: “In my last position as a police investigator, I was responsible for collecting and analyzing all types of evidence at crime scenes. I used forensic tools like fingerprint scanners, DNA testing kits and other equipment to gather evidence. Then, I analyzed that evidence using specialized software programs. This helped me find important clues that led to solving cases.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to interview a hostile or uncooperative witness.

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to remain calm under pressure. In your answer, try to demonstrate that you can maintain a professional demeanor while also being empathetic toward the witness’s situation.

Example: “In my previous role as an investigator, I had to interview a victim who was in critical condition after being shot multiple times. The victim was unable to speak due to his injuries, so we used sign language to communicate. He told me he didn’t know who shot him or why it happened. I asked if there were any other details he could remember about the shooting, but he said he couldn’t recall anything else. We continued to talk for another hour until he became too tired to continue.”

If you were unable to determine who committed a crime, how would you explain your conclusion to the victim?

This question is an opportunity to show your communication skills and ability to empathize with victims. Your answer should demonstrate that you understand the impact of unsolved crimes on victims and their families.

Example: “I would explain my conclusion in person, as I believe it’s important for victims to hear from investigators themselves. If I were unable to determine who committed a crime, I would tell them that we did everything we could to find the perpetrator but unfortunately weren’t able to make an arrest. I would also offer support if they wanted to pursue other avenues to seek justice.”

What would you do if you discovered that one of your fellow investigators was leaking information to the suspect?

This question can help the interviewer assess your ability to work with others and resolve conflict. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to confront a colleague about their behavior and explain why it’s important to maintain confidentiality in an investigation.

Example: “If I discovered that one of my colleagues was leaking information to the suspect, I would first approach them privately to discuss the situation. If they denied any wrongdoing, I would continue to investigate the matter by looking into who had access to the confidential information and comparing it to the list of people who were aware of the details. If I found evidence that implicated my colleague, I would have a private conversation with them again and let them know that this type of behavior is unacceptable.”

How well do you handle stress? Can you provide an example from your previous job where you had to meet an urgent deadline?

Police investigators often have to work under pressure and tight deadlines. Employers ask this question to make sure you can handle stress well and are able to meet their expectations. In your answer, try to explain how you manage stress and provide an example of a time when you had to complete a task quickly.

Example: “I am good at managing stress because I always plan ahead for my tasks. When I was working as a police officer, I once received a call about a robbery in progress. The caller said the suspect was still inside the store with the victim. I immediately gathered my team and headed over to the scene. We arrived within five minutes and surrounded the building. I then gave instructions on who would enter first and who would secure the perimeter. My team followed my lead and we were able to apprehend the robber without any injuries.”

Do you have experience using databases and other digital tools to search for information?

Police investigators often use databases and other digital tools to search for information about a case. The interviewer may ask you this question to learn more about your experience using these types of technology. In your answer, describe the type of database or tool you used and how it helped you complete your work.

Example: “In my last position as a police investigator, I used an online database called Accurint to gather information on suspects. This database allowed me to access public records like criminal history, property ownership and driving violations. Using Accurint saved me time because I didn’t have to look through multiple sources of information to find what I needed.”

When conducting an interrogation, how do you maintain your composure and focus despite the other person’s attempts to distract you?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to remain calm and focused during stressful situations. In your answer, try to demonstrate that you can stay composed in high-pressure situations while also showing respect for the other person’s rights.

Example: “I have a lot of experience conducting interviews with suspects who attempt to distract me or throw me off balance. I know that these tactics are often an attempt to get me to lose my focus so they can avoid answering questions. However, I am able to maintain composure by remaining confident in my knowledge of the case and focusing on asking specific questions rather than engaging in conversation. This helps me keep the suspect from being able to divert my attention away from the important facts of the investigation.”

We want to improve our response time to emergency calls. How would you approach the issue if you were hired?

Police departments want to ensure their officers are able to respond quickly to emergency calls. This question helps the interviewer determine how you would approach this issue and if your ideas align with the department’s goals. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to improve response times and highlight any relevant experience or skills that could help you achieve these results.

Example: “I believe one of the best ways to improve response time is by increasing the number of police officers on duty at a given time. I also think it’s important to have more officers available during peak hours when most emergencies occur. Another way to improve response time is through better communication between dispatch and officers in the field. If hired, I would work with dispatch to develop new protocols for dispatching officers based on the nature of each call.”

Describe your process for investigating a crime scene and collecting evidence.

Police investigators must be able to collect evidence at a crime scene and organize it for later use. Interviewers ask this question to see if you have the proper training in how to do these tasks. In your answer, explain that you understand what is required of you when investigating a crime scene. Share that you are familiar with the tools used to gather evidence and process crime scenes.

Example: “I always arrive at a crime scene prepared with all of my tools and supplies. I make sure to wear gloves and other protective gear so that I don’t contaminate any evidence. I also bring along a camera to document everything I find. After taking photos, I begin collecting evidence by bagging and labeling anything relevant. I am very thorough when conducting an investigation because I know how important it is to follow protocol.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their department. Before your interview, make a list of three things that make you the best candidate for this role. These could be skills you have or personal qualities that will help you succeed in this position.

Example: “I am highly motivated, detail-oriented and empathetic. I know that these are all important qualities for an investigator because they allow me to solve cases efficiently and effectively while also being sensitive to victims and witnesses. I think my empathy is especially helpful when working with people who may be experiencing trauma.”

Which types of crimes do you enjoy investigating the most?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your interests and how they align with the department’s goals. It also helps them understand what types of cases you’ve worked on in the past, which can be helpful if you’re applying for a position that requires experience. When answering this question, it can be beneficial to mention some specific cases or situations that were particularly interesting or challenging.

Example: “I enjoy working on cold cases because I find it rewarding to provide answers to victims’ families who have been waiting for years. In my last role, I was able to solve a case from 20 years ago where a young girl went missing. Her family had never given up hope, so being able to give them closure was very meaningful.”

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

This question is a great way for the interviewer to learn more about your values and how they align with those of their department. Police work can be challenging, so it’s important that you’re passionate about helping others and making communities safer. In your answer, try to explain what motivates you in this role.

Example: “I think the most important aspect of police work is protecting people. I love being able to help someone who might not have anyone else to turn to. It makes me feel good knowing that I’m giving them the support they need when they’re at their lowest point. I also enjoy the challenge of solving cases and bringing justice to victims.”

How often do you update your investigative skills through continuing education or other means?

Continuing education is an important part of being a police investigator. Employers ask this question to make sure you are committed to learning new things and developing your skills as an investigator. Show them that you have the drive to keep improving yourself by sharing how often you take classes or attend seminars.

Example: “I try to attend at least one seminar every year. I also subscribe to several law enforcement magazines, which help me stay up-to-date on current events in the field. I am currently enrolled in a course where I can earn my certification as a crime scene investigator.”

There is a high-profile case that the media is focusing on. How do you make sure that your investigation remains impartial?

This question can help interviewers understand how you would handle a situation where the media is focusing on your department’s investigation. It also helps them determine whether you have experience working under pressure and in the public eye. In your answer, try to explain that you will focus on conducting an impartial investigation while still being transparent with the public about what you’re doing.

Example: “I’ve worked on several high-profile cases throughout my career, so I know that there are always going to be members of the media following our every move. However, I make sure that I am completely impartial when conducting investigations. If we find evidence that points to someone’s guilt, then we will arrest them. If not, then we will release information about why we didn’t file charges.”


17 Valuation Analyst Interview Questions and Answers

Back to Interview

17 Regulatory Affairs Coordinator Interview Questions and Answers