The correctional officer oral board interview is no picnic. In fact, the oral board interview for correctional officers will probably be the toughest phase in the application process. So don’t take it for granted.
Sure, you can go ahead and try to wing it and hope and pray that you’ll say all the right things and do all the right things to get the job.
But why do that when you can do something better and smarter? Why take chances with your future?
Why not set some time aside, and study up on the interview so you can learn how to effectively handle any questions thrown your way? According to the author of “Ace Your Correctional Officer Interview,” don’t show up to your interview unprepared because you will fail miserably.
Here are some common questions to prepare for.
What has been your biggest professional disappointment/achievement so far?
If asked about disappointments mention something that was beyond your control. Stay positive by showing how you accepted the situation and have no lingering negative feelings.
If asked about your greatest achievement chose an example that was important to you as well as the company. Specify what you did, how you did it and what the results were. Ideally pick an example that can relate to the position of a correctional officer.
What kind of decisions do you find most difficult to take?
There is no right or wrong here. The logic behind this type of question is that your past behaviour is likely to predict what you will do in the future. What the interviewer is looking for is to understand what you find difficult.
Tell me about a suggestion that you have made that has been successfully implemented. Here the emphasis is on the implemented. You may have had many brilliant ideas, but what the interview is looking for is something that has actually materialised. Be prepared to briefly describe how it went from an idea to implementation stage.
Have you ever had to bend the rules in order to achieve a goal?
Beware of this type of question! Under no circumstances is it necessary to break company policy to achieve something. Resist the temptation to answer and give examples, as what the interviewers are looking for is to determine how ethical you are and if you will remain true to the law enforcement code of ethics.
Why should we hire you?
This is an important question that you will need to answer carefully. It is your chance to stand out and draw attention to your skills, especially those that haven’t already been addressed. Saying “because I need a job” or “I want to help my community” just won’t cut it.
Don’t speculate about other candidates and their possible strengths or flaws. Make sure you focus on you. Explain why you will make a good correctional officer, why you are a good fit for the job and the company and what you can offer. Keep it succinct and highlight your achievements.
Do you have any questions for us?
This one tends to come up every time. Have some questions prepared. This will show you have done some research and are eager to know and learn as much as possible. You probably don’t want to ask more than 3 or 4 questions.
Try and use questions that focus on you becoming an asset to the agency. A generic one might be “how soon can I attend the training academy if I were to get the job”. Another idea is to ask what you would be working on and how quickly they expect you to be able to be productive. Remember to ask about next steps and when you can expect to hear back.
Bear in mind that the interview starts from the minute you walk into the building until you leave and are out of sight. Don’t think that just because you have left the meeting room, you are “off the hook”. You need to maintain an image of confidence, enthusiasm, competence, reliability and professionalism throughout.