Updated August 30th, 2018
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
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Why did you choose a career as a police officer?
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The interviewer would like to know the driving forced behind your choice to be in law enforcement. You can give an answer that allows some personal insight if you wish. The interviewer must see that you have a passion for this career path! Your passion is what will keep you in this role for years to come. Show the interviewer that you are committed.
"I grew up with a father in law enforcement and it was a career path that I always knew would be mine one day. Growing up, I loved to see the pride in my dad's eyes when he came home after a shift. I heard stories of him helping people and taking steps to make our community safer. I want to do the same."
We conduct early-stage criminal background checks, credit checks, and drug tests on all of our candidates. Is there anything you would like to disclose at this time?
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For obvious reasons, law enforcement agencies need to be very cautious on who they hire. There is a chance that much of the information you are going to access could be confidential and dangerous if put into the wrong hands. You will be working with the public, and with vulnerable individuals. Assure the interviewer that you are most willing to comply with any form of background check they require.
"I am happy to comply with any background check required. My record is clean and I have a strong credit history. I do not participate in drug use, either. You can be assured that if you hire me for this role, I will maintain a clean record."
For obvious reasons, you must have a clean drug history before you can work in law enforcement. Your answer should be kept very simple, and 100% honest.
If you have never had involvement with drugs: "I have never been involved with drugs, in any way. I was raised to always take care of myself and to never mess around with drugs."
If you have taken or sold illegal drugs in the past: "I hung out with the wrong crowd for a brief time in my teen years and was pressured into trying cocaine when I was 19. I didn't actually like it and have stayed away from drugs since then."
"I have never been involved with drugs, in any way. I was raised to always take care of myself and to never mess around with drugs."
You must be physically fit to be a police officer. What have you done to physically train yourself for this position?
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The interviewer would like to know that you are capable of meeting the physical demands required for this position. Generally, a fit test will be administered; however, this is an opportunity for you to disclose any concerns you may have regarding the fitness portion of the role.
"I am fully prepared to complete the fit test. I am in great physical shape. To train myself for a career as a police officer I have attended CrossFit 5 times per week for the last 12 months. I also run 6 to 15 miles every week."
6. How do you get along with others, on the force? The interviewer wants to gauge if you can maintain healthy relationships in the workplace. They want to know more about the dynamics with your coworkers. Think about what you enjoyed about some of your relationships with past coworkers. Good communication, sense of humor, and support are all great qualities that make co-worker relationships healthy and harmonious. Here is an answer example: "I get along great with my coworkers. I try to maintain a positive attitude and be supportive, whether I am offering to assist someone who is overwhelmed, or if I am taking time to listen to someone who is having a bad day."7. How often do you lose your temper? Do you consider yourself to have a short fuse? This question is for the interviewer to gain greater insight into your personality and whether or not you will be a fit with their team. Talk about your ability to maintain your cool on the job. This is also a great time to offer up some references. Here is an answer example: "I am able to maintain my cool and do not easily lose my temper. In my current office, I am best known for being even-keeled. If you'd like to call my references, they will attest to this as well. In law enforcement, I believe it is very important to maintain a calm, in-control, presence at all times."8. What are your salary expectations? The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I earn a base salary of $68,000 per year plus medical benefits, and additional perks. I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."9. Are you applying for any other jobs? It always puts a little bit of fire under the hiring manager if the are aware that you are actively looking for a new position. Tell the interviewer about your search so far. Here is an answer example: "I am keeping an eye out for viable positions. Although I am not in final stages with any other company, I am actively seeking a new position."10. Do you see yourself a leader? When have you led a team? Perhaps you have led a team at work, been a coach for a youth sports team, or were on the advisory board for a non-profit organization. You should always be prepared to show the interviewer that you have a natural ability to lead others. Whether you have led a group of 500, or a team of 2, you must display to the interviewer that you are capable of handling the responsibility that comes with being a leader and mentor.
Talk about your desire to be a leader. Share with the interviewer that you strive to be a role model for others. Explain that you jump at the opportunity to lead groups, encourage your counterparts, and be a face of the organization when challenges arise. Here is an answer example: "In my current department, I am the president of the community volunteer committee. I love that I have the opportunity to encourage employee engagement while being a positive influence on the workplace culture. I am a natural leader because I start with leading by example. As a leader, I make myself available to others who need mentor-ship, a bit of assistance in adjusting to their role, or just a listening ear when they've had a tough day. I am confident in my leadership abilities."11. What are you reading right now? Do you feed your mind on a regular basis? What kind of literature do you prefer and why? Talk to the interviewer about a book that you are currently reading. If you are not currently reading a book - talk about one that has impacted you the most. Here is an answer example: "Currently I am reading 'Ego is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday. It is a book about ambition, resilience and success. I feel that every law enforcement official should read it - it comes highly recommended."12. What part of this career brings you the most stress? Stress can often be a regular part of the day to day work experience when in law enforcement. Talk to the interviewer about which areas of your career are the most stressful. Ensure that your answer does not include a factor that would make you appear unfit for the position. (IE: a police officer should not find driving to be the most stressful part of the job). Here is an answer example: "The part of my law enforcement career that brings me the most stress is when team productivity is behind due to lack of hustle on my teams part. I really like to be on time with my schedule to ensure that our community is being assisted properly."13. Law enforcement is ever-changing. We seek to hire individuals with a keen interest in this industry. How do you stay up to date on law enforcement related current events? The interviewer would like to confirm that you have a true interest in the law enforcement industry. Perhaps you read law related books, follow particular police journals or subscribe to a blog related to this industry. Briefly share with the interviewer the ways in which you stay up to date on current events related to law enforcement. Here is an answer example: "I am always interested in learning more about this industry and the changes that are taking place. It's truly fascinating how law can change, and I like reading up on different case studies. Most frequently, I read The Police Journal. There are also a couple of blogs that I follow including Brian Cain's 'Just a Cop'."14. How would you rate your performance in this interview so far? If you feel that your performance in the interview is going well: "I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"
If you feel that your performance in the interview is not going well: "I am not sure if I have been able to portray myself 100% accurately in this interview; although, I am trying my best. If there is anything more that I can clarify for you I would be happy to do so." Here is an answer example: "I believe that this interview has been quite informative and I am happy with my performance. Is there anything that I can clarify for you from this conversation?"15. Do you think it is possible to be a good law enforcement officer, yet disagree with your Captain or Chief at times? The interviewer wants to know that you are able to be diplomatic in the workplace, even when you may not agree with your leader.
Show the interviewer that it is definitely possible for you to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader from time to time. Explain that you believe everyone is entitled to their own professional opinion, yet capable of maintaining respect for each other at the same time.
Show that even if you disagree with the final decision they make, you support the direction the team is heading. Here is an answer example: "I absolutely think that it is possible to be a great team member, even when disagreeing with the leader. It's all in how you maintain respect for each other despite the difference in opinion."16. What motivates you? Typically, employees are motivated by environments where they feel supported and encouraged. The interviewer wants to know how they could motivate you - even on the toughest of days! Be open with the interviewer about the ways you can stay motivated on the job, even when the going gets tough. Here is an answer example: "It does not take a lot to keep me motivated. If I work in a positive environment with a forward-thinking team, I am a very happy employee. If you see me going above and beyond, a quick thanks or small recognition of my hard work is good enough for me."17. How do you handle stress on the job? Are you someone who is able to handle stress on the job? How do you manage the stressful times? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to manage pressure in the workplace. Here is an answer example: "I handle stress very well and when you call my references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure on the job, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful and I will delegate when necessary to alleviate some stress."18. Tell me about a time when you led a team. What was your biggest success factor? The interviewer would like to hear about a time that you led a team, with a positive outcome. Highlight for the interviewer the primary factors that made your leadership style a success. Your example could come from the workplace or perhaps a time when you led a group project during your post-secondary studies. Here is an answer example: "Just last month I was asked to lead our day shift employees when my boss was away on sick leave. I took charge for two weeks and the experience was quite positive! I believe the biggest success factor was that I tried to emulate his leadership style and did ask his help when I wasn't sure what to do. I feel this experience really prepared me for a leadership role. I am excited to take on a team lead role again."19. Where do you see yourself five years from now? It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but do assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long term fit for their position. Here is an answer example: "Ideally, 5 years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long term fit here."20. Why should we hire you? If you can't think of ways that you are unique, ask a few friends or family members what they feel sets you apart from other people. Their observations may help you understand how you are perceived.
Perhaps you already know what sets you apart! This could include any industry accolades, special achievements, additional industry related training, a second language, or how involved you are in the community. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself a bit. In an interview, you are your strongest advocate. Here is an answer example: "You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. When I started with my current company, I was the youngest sales person they had ever hired. That didn't stop me from becoming the #1 sales person in the company within 6 months. I am dedicated to my craft, and engaged in this industry to the point where I commit myself to taking at least one business development or leadership related workshop every business quarter. I am a competitive achiever. You won't be disappointed when you hire me."21. Tell me your favorite, and least favorite, aspects of your current or most recent position. Always answer a question like this with the negative first, so that you can end on a positive note. This can completely change the vibe of the interview.
When it comes to discussing your least favorite aspect of your current/most recent position, beware of complaining to the interviewer. Take this question as an opportunity to shine when it comes to your ability to overcome challenges and dislikes. Describe the challenges your previous employer offered you, and how you thrived in that environment. Stay away from company gossip or drama. Avoid getting into a negative spiral that you can't recover from!
When discussing your favorite aspect of your current/most recent role, stay away from company perks and choose to focus on something like growth, the culture, or your ability to make an impact. Here is an answer example: "Every place has areas for improvement. My least favorite aspect of my current position is that I have very little autonomy when it comes to making decisions surrounding our priority cases. The best part of this job and part of the reason I have stayed there for 6 years is that my coworkers are amazing and there is a strong push for professional development."22. When have you had to shift your priorities in response to sudden changes? When you work in law enforcement, you will often be asked to change your priorities on a dime. How do you react to this kind of shift in priorities? Assure the interviewer that you are able to respond in a professional manner when it comes to sudden changes. Here is an answer example: "Law enforcement is a very reactionary career path so I am accustomed to being asked to shift my priorities often. It could mean a change in my work schedule, being asked to work overtime, or heading to one call and then being asked to attend another more urgent case. I have been able to adapt very well to these frequent, sudden changes."23. Tell me about your greatest accomplishment in law enforcement Talking about your greatest accomplishment will give the interviewer a strong idea of where you place your values. It will also show the interviewer more about your personality, how you like to be motivated, and how to coach you in the future. It is okay to brag a little bit when answering this question. Show that you are proud of yourself and your career accomplishments within law enforcement. Here is an answer example: "The greatest accomplishment in my law enforcement career was being recognized by my peers with the Humanity Award last year. I try to be very involved in my community and It felt great to be recognized for my dedication."24. Have you ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident that was your fault? How clean is your driving record? Law enforcement officers should have a clean driving record. A speeding ticket now and then is not the biggest of deals; however, a charge for dangerous driving could be a deal breaker. Disclose to the interviewer any penalties on your driving record. Assure the interviewer that you are most willing to comply with any drivers' background check that they require. Here is an answer example: "I am happy to comply with any drivers' background check required. My driving record is clean aside from a photo radar speeding ticket about 5 months ago. I am a responsible, confident, and skilled driver."25. Tell me something about yourself that I would not know from reading your resume. 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 its possible! (This will make you unforgettable!) Here is an answer example: "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."26. Competition is stiff for this position. Why are you the best candidate for us? Show the interviewer that you are unique and that you stand out from the crowd! If you can't think of ways that you are unique, ask a few friends or family members what they feel sets you apart from other people. Their observations may help you understand how you are perceived.
Perhaps you already know what sets you apart! This could include any industry accolades, special achievements, additional industry related training, a second language, or how involved you are in the community. Don't be afraid to brag about yourself a bit. In an interview, you are your strongest advocate. Here is an answer example: "You should hire me because I am unlike anyone else you have interviewed before. I am dedicated law enforcement, and engaged in this career path to the point where I commit myself to taking at least one career development or leadership related workshop every year. I am a competitive achiever, and an honest person. You won't be disappointed when you hire me."27. Are you accustomed to working within a diverse community? The interviewer would like to know if you are comfortable with the degree of diversity that you will be faced with, in this position. Anyone in law enforcement must be able to communicate with a great range of personalities, and human needs. Express to the interviewer that you are capable of handling diversity. Be sure to give an example. Here is an answer example: "I am very comfortable working with a diverse range of individuals. Currently, I volunteer at the local homeless shelter and it's as diverse as you can imagine. I come across the most wonderful people and it makes for very memorable conversations."28. What are your career goals, within law enforcement, in the next 3 years? It's impossible to know exactly where you will be in 3 years but do assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long term fit for their position. Here is an answer example: "Ideally, 3 years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within this particular district. I enjoy this city and the personalities in this precinct so I do see a great long term fit here."29. Whether you were caught or not, have you ever committed a crime? The interviewer wants to put a bit of extra emphasis on the fine line of being a good person, and not being caught. This answer should be kept very simple, and 100% honest.
If you have never committed a crime: "I have never committed a crime. I was raised to always be an honest person and to respect other people, their property, and myself."
If you have committed a crime: "I was a trouble maker in my teen years and was pressured into shoplifting at a gas station when I was 15. I was never caught for it but always felt terrible. When I was older, I actually went back to that gas station and paid them back." Here is an answer example: "I have never committed a crime. I was raised to always be an honest person and to respect other people, their property, and myself."30. There are numerous career avenues you can take within law enforcement. Which career path interests you the most? It is important that you fully research the growth opportunity in this department or district before your interview. You can then accurately assess the potential growth opportunities. Discuss your career growth and desires with the interviewer. Here is an answer example: "I saw on the internal job board that you are looking for a securities and fraud lead. I am not yet qualified for that level of leadership role; however, it really interests me. I would love to be considered for a role like that in the future."31. It is important for law enforcement to be an active part of the community. How are you currently involved in your community? The interviewer is interested in knowing how involved you are in your own community. As a law enforcement professional, it is really important that you have a face in the community, along with a strong reputation and desire for involvement. Outline your recent community involvement. Avoid going back further than 10 years. Here is an answer example: "I fully believe that it is important for members of law enforcement to have a great reputation and strong presence in their community. For that reason, I have spent the past 5 years volunteering every Sunday morning with the local Food Bank. I also have a regular volunteer opportunity at the Drop In Centre for the homeless."32. From your personal understanding, under what circumstances is the use of deadly forced justified? The interviewer is asking for your personal understanding (not opinion!) when it comes to the laws and regulations surrounding deadly force. This is a serious question and should not be a question where you give your personal opinion. Answer by the book! Here is an answer example: "According to US Law, deadly force may be justified only under conditions of extreme necessity, when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed."33. Tell me about your post-secondary education and how it relates to a career in law enforcement. The interviewer would like a more detailed breakdown of your law enforcement training and any other education related to your career within law enforcement. Likely, this is listed on your resume; however, this is an invitation to give a more detailed breakdown. Be sure to highlight any awards, scholarships, or special accolades that you may have received. Here is an answer example: "I have a Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement from the University of Louisville. I am very proud to say that I graduated with honors, and was even working part time during those studies. Since then, I have been working on completing my Masters Degree. This should be complete in the next 2 years as I am working and taking online courses in tandem."34. What would you do if a civilian called you a racial slur or other derogatory term? The interviewer is looking for any indication that you may have a short temper or a tendency to overreact. Show that you are able to remain professional and composed, even in uncomfortable situations. If you have a real life example to provide, it's a great idea to walk the interviewer through your reaction and the outcome. Here is an answer example: "I cannot react with force unless threats are uttered. To be honest, I have had many insults thrown my way in my career and can say that I prefer to choose kindness over an angry reaction. If someone yells something rude at me from their car, I will simply wave. If I am writing a speeding ticket and the recipient is upset, I will remind them that my job is to protect others from their poor decisions. Keeping a level head is always the better answer, in my opinion."
Writers for Law Enforcement Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
Ryan Brown, is the creator of MockQuestions. He has over ten years experience creating interview questions. His website has helped over 10 million job seekers in their interview preparation.
First written on: 08/15/2017 Last modified on: 08/30/2018
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