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911 Dispatcher Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated December 15th, 2019 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a 911 dispatcher, so far?
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How to Answer
Accomplishing something, big or small, is a motivating subject. Talk to the interviewer about what your proudest career accomplishment has been so far, and why. Be sure to show excitement and enthusiasm for what you have accomplished so far. If you are new to your dispatch career, discuss an accomplishment you have earned along the way, whether that be from school or a rewarding volunteer opportunity.
30 911 Dispatcher Interview Questions
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  1. What has been your greatest accomplishment as a 911 dispatcher, so far?
  2. How would you handle a call from a panicked person who was speaking unintelligibly?
  3. Proper filing of reports is critical. Talk about your documentation skills and how you keep your records organized.
  4. After each call, how do you evaluate your performance?
  5. Have you spoken with other 911 Dispatchers regarding what this career is like?
  6. How familiar are you with criminal law in our region?
  7. Describe a job where you've had to provide service to a wide variety of people from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.
  8. A 911 Dispatcher must know the region in which they operate. How strong is your geographic knowledge?
  9. When have you shown great integrity at work?
  10. Why are you the best 911 dispatcher for us?
  11. What advice would you give to a fellow dispatcher who was stressed out?
  12. Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
  13. What has been your greatest accomplishment as a 911 dispatcher, so far?
  14. Are you willing to learn the rules of the FCC in regards to frequency use?
  15. Talk about your clerical skills, and how they will help you succeed as a 911 Dispatcher.
  16. Do you have current certification in CPR and First Aid? Are you comfortable giving CPR instructions on a call?
  17. Our 911 Dispatchers are very busy. What kind of work volume are you capable of handling?
  18. If there were a domestic dispute phone call and a potential suicide call at the same time, but only one available officer, where would you send the officer?
  19. As a 911 Dispatcher, you will be on the phone for the majority of your shift. How do you feel about this?
  20. Talk about one weakness, as it relates to your work as a 911 Dispatcher. How will you work to improve this weakness?
  21. Can you stand above pressure and make calm, rational decisions, in the wake of an emergency?
  22. A 911 Dispatcher must pay exceptional attention to the small details. How would your co-workers describe your attention to detail?
  23. What do you believe to be the most essential quality of a 911 Dispatcher?
  24. A 911 Dispatcher must react appropriately under pressure. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  25. How would you describe your written communication skills?
  26. Describe your communication style. Why will your approach to communication be helpful as a 911 Dispatcher?
  27. Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.
  28. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
  29. Would you work holidays and weekends?
  30. While on shift, how often do you create alternative scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?
15 911 Dispatcher Answer Examples
1.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a 911 dispatcher, so far?
Accomplishing something, big or small, is a motivating subject. Talk to the interviewer about what your proudest career accomplishment has been so far, and why. Be sure to show excitement and enthusiasm for what you have accomplished so far. If you are new to your dispatch career, discuss an accomplishment you have earned along the way, whether that be from school or a rewarding volunteer opportunity.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"As a seasoned 911 Dispatcher, I have many accomplishments that make me beam with pride. Overall, I would say that my greatest work accomplishment is the positive reputation that I have in this industry. I could also sum up my accomplishments by how proud I feel, knowing I have helped may children along the way. I have a deep level of compassion for children who are in scary situations, so every time I can assist, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The greatest accomplishment I have had so far is graduating University as an honors student while still working part-time as a volunteer dispatcher. This accomplishment showed me that I could dedicate myself to my career and reach the educational goals that I set for myself. It felt great to accomplish so much and earn recognition for my educational dedication."
2.
How would you handle a call from a panicked person who was speaking unintelligibly?
911 Dispatchers are often in communication with people who are having a very stressful time. This stress can cause people to panic and not think or speak clearly. Some examples could include the caller speaking a language you do not know, or a caller suddenly unable to remember important details such as their location. Walk the interviewer through the steps that you would take if you were on a call with someone speaking in a way that you could not understand.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I recently had a caller who was speaking very quickly in another language that I could not decipher. After asking them a couple of questions in English, it was clear that they were upset and found it easier to speak in their native tongue while in duress. I asked, 'what language?' a straightforward question that was simple for the caller to answer. Once I was able to distinguish the language they were speaking, I was able to transfer to the call to a dispatcher who spoke their language. When a caller is panicked, it is entirely up to me to break down the barriers of communication and get them the assistance they need."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"For the majority of my career, I have worked in a cross-functional environment with a plethora of response teams and emergency professionals. It's a fantastic way to work because we can meet a goal or objective more efficiently while teaching each other new skills."
3.
Proper filing of reports is critical. Talk about your documentation skills and how you keep your records organized.
Depending on where you will be working, you may have a variety of systems and programs to learn, allowing for proper documentation, processing, and filing. When working as a 911 Dispatcher, you must remain organized and accurate in the information that you are sharing. Walk the hiring authority through your process when it comes to keeping your records organized. If you are new to your career, you can discuss the fact that you are careful and organized in general.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"As an experienced 911 Dispatcher, I fully understand the repercussions of being disorganized or filing paperwork improperly. I am careful with my documentation, I use accurate wording, and ensure that the job can go on long after my shift is over. In every administrative action that I take, I make sure that my coworkers understand what occurred and what needs doing."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"x"
4.
After each call, how do you evaluate your performance?
As a 911 Dispatcher, being able to look critically at your performance is a critical skill to have. How do you keep yourself in check for strong performance? Perhaps you are open to self-development and improvement, or maybe you ask for feedback from your leader regularly.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I evaluate myself after every emergency call, especially after handling unique situations or high-stress calls. After hanging up, I will check with myself on how I feel about my performance. If there is a situation where I felt rusty or unsure, I will write it down and revisit it at the end of the day. Even after 12 years in this industry, I am open to feedback and will often ask other dispatchers how they would have handled a call differently. In unusual or high-stress calls, it is incredibly important to debrief very soon after the call. This debriefing helps keep me in check and absorb any methods for improvement."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I believe that feedback from more experienced dispatchers is the key to ensuring strong performance every time. After each day for my first 30 days, I will request feedback. I want to learn all that I can to become the best 911 Dispatcher that I can be."
5.
Have you spoken with other 911 Dispatchers regarding what this career is like?
Researching the opportunity, the career overall, and the department you will be joining is a critical first step before going to an interview. Tell the hiring manager the extent of your research, how you feel about the opportunity to work as a 911 Dispatcher, and why you would like to work in this position.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have spoken with one of your other dispatchers about this position, and she had so many wonderful things to say about working here. After researching online and speaking with her, I am even more excited about the opportunity. I would love to have this job and am eager to compete for the role."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"
6.
How familiar are you with criminal law in our region?
Depending on the region where you apply, you may be required to have a background in criminal justice and law. Speak openly with the hiring authority regarding your level of knowledge when it comes to the law. Be honest and show a willingness to learn in your role as a 911 Dispatcher.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have received a great amount of training during my dispatch career; however, there is always more to learn since criminal law is always changing. Most important to me, while growing my dispatch skills, is my ability to handle a range of situations with utmost care and poise. I am eager to take any training you offer and recommend."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As a recent graduate from the Criminology program, I have a strong overview of criminal law. With that said, I have room to grow when it comes to the law in our specific region. Do you have any recommendations regarding training? I want to join in this role with the utmost knowledge."
7.
Describe a job where you've had to provide service to a wide variety of people from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.
In the United States, the 911 system receives about 240 million calls per year. As a 911 Dispatcher, you must be able to collaborate with a significant number of people in a day. Call volumes are high, and everyone on the other end of the call has their own unique story. Be sure to give specific examples and talk about your overall dispatch experience. Let the hiring manager know that you, in no way, discriminate on the job.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked as a 911 Dispatcher for many years, facing a huge range of situations. Every call is different, and I am well accustomed to adapting to each situation. The level of help or service that I offer has never wavered depending on race, culture, or social standing. The diverse range of people that I come across every day certainly keeps me sharp, and aware of the varying needs of others."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Before I attended University, I worked as a part-time volunteer with our local homeless shelter. In that role, I encountered a diverse range of individuals. I embrace diversity and welcome people from all backgrounds."
8.
A 911 Dispatcher must know the region in which they operate. How strong is your geographic knowledge?
The interviewer wants assurance that you are confident in your knowledge of the surrounding areas. As a 911 Dispatcher, you must have strong geographical knowledge and excellent recall skills. Talk about the time that you have spent becoming familiar with the region. The hiring authority may also have geographic testing available, so it's great to offer your participation in any trial they may want to conduct.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have lived here for the past 13 years and have dispatched in this region for the past five years. My geographical knowledge is advanced. If you would like, I am happy to take any geographic tests you may need."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a strong ability to recall information that I set out to learn. I am also adept in directions, having grown up in the country on a farm. I believe this background will be a significant bonus when training as a 911 Dispatcher."
9.
When have you shown great integrity at work?
The interviewer would like to know about a time when you have shown high levels of integrity on the job. We display integrity through honesty and consistent moral values. Talk to the interviewer about the ways that you show your integrity in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"In my last position, I was responsible for the cash deposit daily. There was never a discrepancy, in the four years that I worked there. I best show my integrity by being a consistently reliable employee. In my current role as a 911 Dispatcher, I am sure always to do the right thing, giving my best to every call that I take."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I show integrity every day by being my true self. The 'me' that you see in this interview is the same version that my family and friends get. I am an honest and genuine person, and I am eager to take this integrity to work as a 911 Dispatcher."
10.
Why are you the best 911 dispatcher for us?
Speaking highly about yourself in an interview can be tough to do, but this is your time to shine! Which characteristics and career accomplishments have made you a stand-out 911 Dispatcher? Perhaps you have received some merit awards or have been received specialized training in your most recent position. There is nobody like you, and now you need to express that to the interviewer.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am the best candidate for your 911 Dispatcher role because I have the right background, education, and experience. I know that I can jump right in and get going with very little training time. I have received accolades for my quick-thinking and also bring recent Diversity and Inclusion training, ensuring that my approach compliments your departments' most recent diversity efforts."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I feel that I am the best 911 Dispatcher for you because, in addition to my recent background as a former EMT, I also have a diploma in Criminal Justice. I have many transferable skills to bring to this role and, as a former first responder, will bring a full and unique perspective to the job."
11.
What advice would you give to a fellow dispatcher who was stressed out?
Being able to handle stress is a fantastic skill, but being able to talk your colleagues off the ledge during their peak times of stress is an entirely different skill. Discuss with the interviewer what you would say or do to help a coworker cope with the stress of dispatch work. Be sure to show smarts, empathy, and a transparent methodology for stress-management.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I track my stressors and then visit them regularly. I will write them down on a note in my phone and then at the end of the day, or the week; I will try to track the regular offenders. Once I can pinpoint the stressors that occur too regularly, I make a plan to eliminate or at least alleviate them. If I had a colleague who was stressed out, I would share that method with them and help them to implement it if they were interested."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"
12.
Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
Part of being an excellent communicator is also having the power of persuasion when necessary. There is a difference between persuasion and debating - or even convincing. Persuasion is used when you want to influence someone rather than tell them that they are wrong, and you are right.

The power of persuasion is essential when working in an emotionally driven environment, such as being a 911 Dispatcher. It is also a valuable skill when you want to gain momentum with your coworkers.

It is not a negative thing to be persuasive. Talk to the interviewer about whether or not you consider yourself to be a persuasive individual, and why.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Persuasion is a key skill of an effective leader and communicator, in my opinion. Have you ever read the book, 'Pre-Suasion' by Robert Cialdini? He speaks of the science in persuasion and that there are significant moves to be made before ever asking someone to do something on your behalf. This book has greatly influenced how I use persuasion when taking high-stakes dispatch calls."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"As a university student, persuasion was in everything that I did. For instance, I needed to gain buy-in from my fellow students when it came to pitching the angle of a group project. I spent much of my days making statements of persuasion while writing term papers, as well."
13.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a 911 dispatcher, so far?
The interviewer would like to get to know you apart from what is written on your resume. You are certainly not obligated to discuss personal matters such as your kids, or relationship status, for instance. Stick with a couple of fun facts to show the interviewer that you are a real person, too. Your answer should be unique so that you are a memorable candidate!

Focus on special non-work related skills or hobbies. For example, you might share that you enjoy beat-boxing or making origami swans. Be prepared for the interviewer to stop you and ask you to perform your skill on the spot when it's possible! (This will make you unforgettable!)

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last 8 years to compete in a variety of races. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The greatest accomplishment I have had so far is graduating University as an honors student while still working part-time as a volunteer dispatcher. This accomplishment showed me that I could dedicate myself to my career and reach the educational goals that I set for myself. It felt great to accomplish so much and earn recognition for my educational dedication."
14.
Are you willing to learn the rules of the FCC in regards to frequency use?
Depending on the region where you work, you may be required to comply with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) when it comes to the frequency on which police radios operate. The interviewer wants to see a willingness to learn, and comply with, the rules surrounding radio use. Of course, you want to sound agreeable and eager in your response. If you are familiar with policy around the FCC, be sure to express this.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked in 911 dispatch for eight years and am very familiar with FCC requirements and compliance. I am more than willing to continue abiding by these regulations and will commit to staying up to date on FCC changes."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am familiar with the FCC and fully understand why we must have regulations and policies surrounding first-responder communication and radio use. I have already started to dive into some of the information provided on the FCC website and will continue to keep myself educated."
15.
Talk about your clerical skills, and how they will help you succeed as a 911 Dispatcher.
As a 911 Dispatcher, much of your work will be surrounding clerical tasks. These tasks could include typing, documenting, answering phones, sending emails, reading and writing memos, creating and communicating schedules, and more. Assure the hiring authority that you can keep up with the demand and expectations associated with the role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Before becoming a 911 Dispatcher, I worked as an administrator in a hospital's emergency department. There, I learned many valuable transferable skills such as accurate documentation, rapid typing, note-taking, and clear communication by email and memo. I can confidently say that my clerical skills are top-notch."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have a diploma in office administration and plan to use the skills that I learned in my new role as a 911 Dispatcher. I am confident in tasks such as typing, documenting, and communicating over email or team messaging apps."
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