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Police 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.
Job Interviews     Careers     Protective Services    
Question 1 of 30
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?
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How to Answer
The way you approach this question will depend on the level of emergency response training you have received. When working in dispatch, there are levels of emergencies. You may learn priority dispatch codes, which consist of hundreds of categories and sub-categories ranging from non-emergency to health conditions, to violent crimes, and more. Every call is different, with each day bringing a range of decisions that need to be made, often in the blink of an eye.
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Answer Examples
1.
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?
The way you approach this question will depend on the level of emergency response training you have received. When working in dispatch, there are levels of emergencies. You may learn priority dispatch codes, which consist of hundreds of categories and sub-categories ranging from non-emergency to health conditions, to violent crimes, and more. Every call is different, with each day bringing a range of decisions that need to be made, often in the blink of an eye.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My response will change depending on the smaller details of each situation. For instance, if the domestic involves a weapon, or if the suicidal person has already taken self-harm action. As a Police Dispatcher, I have yet to come across a situation where only one officer is available; however, I can see how this would happen in a smaller town or rural area. One decision would be to dispatch the officer to the domestic while dispatching the fire department or ambulance to the potential suicide where the responders are cross-trained to handle situations such as self-harm."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"This is a challenging question to answer definitively, but first, I would check to see which resources were available to me, such as other first-responders such as EMS or the fire department. My initial reaction would be to respond to the domestic call, especially if the situation were violent or involving a weapon."
2.
Describe a job where you've provided 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 Police 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 Police 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."
3.
A Police Dispatcher must pay exceptional attention to the small details. How would your co-workers describe your attention to detail?
Delivering strong attention to detail is incredibly important as a Police Dispatcher. Especially when you are operating under potentially high-stress scenarios. It is always best to support your reply with a real-life example. Talk to the interviewer about your level of attentiveness when it comes to details on the job. If you are new to your career, you can lean on your experiences in school, in competitive sports, or during your volunteer work.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"My co-workers would describe my attention to detail as very strong. I can very easily point out spelling discrepancies in communication and will notice the small things. I think big-picture as well but have always had a knack for details."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I can't speak for my colleagues as I am new to my career; however, my professors would say that I have above average attention to detail. I make mistakes, but I usually catch them before passing my work on to the intended recipient. I fully understand the importance of 100% accuracy in a Police Dispatch career and am prepared to meet those expectations."
4.
A Police 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 Police 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 Police Dispatcher."
5.
Do you have any diversity training experience? Talk about the ways that you embrace diversity in the workplace.
As a Police Dispatcher, you will come across a broad range of people and needs every day. There is training available to you, ensuring that you bring the utmost compassion and understanding with you to your job every day. If you do not have diversity training, but you do have exposure to a lot of diverse environments, you can mention this as well.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Recently, our department granted us the opportunity to take a First Responders Sensitivity and Diversity Training. I was thrilled to be included. In this two-day training, I learned a lot about other cultures, backgrounds, and religions. My eyes opened to factors that greatly impact how a person would respond in an emergency. This training was valuable, and I am eager to apply my new knowledge to this Police Dispatcher role."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Although I do not have formal diversity training experience, while in university, I was part of the school's community's Diversity and Inclusion Club. Our group held a variety of celebrations for unrepresented parties and helped the student body to learn about people outside of their own culture. Rest assured, I would come to this role with total openness to others and their unique needs."
6.
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 Police 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 Police Dispatcher."
7.
Our Police Dispatchers are very busy. What kind of work volume are you capable of handling?
In the United States, the 911 system receives around 240 million calls per year. Now, that's a LOT of work volume. Not every call will be the same. Some calls are misdialed, some will be true emergencies, and some calls will be non-emergency calls from people who need guidance on who to turn to for their situation. The schedule and requirements of a Police Dispatcher are not easy, so you must come prepared to speak to the interviewer about your ability to manage a significant volume of work, for hours at a time.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Currently, I handle anywhere from three to thirty calls per hour, on a twelve-hour shift. This volume means that I can take upwards of 350 calls per shift, as a Police Dispatcher. I love working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment not only because I enjoy the challenge but also because the days go by so fast. Rest assured, I am ready to meet the needs and volume of your department."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am a fast learner; I work quickly and like daily challenges. Although I am new to my career in dispatch, I am confident that I will enjoy working in an environment with a high volume of work and critical responsibilities."
8.
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 Police 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."
9.
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 Police 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."
10.
While on shift, how often do you create alternate scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?
Police Dispatchers must be able to problem-solve and think outside the box when it comes to changing situations. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios. Show that you are willing and able to pivot wisely, being fully prepared to react calmly and professionally to any changing situation.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"It's important in emergencies to have premeditated contingency plans. It removes uncertainty in the heat of the moment and will better prepare everyone to adapt if a problem should arise. As a Police Dispatcher, I am ready to adapt at all times. This adaption is a necessary skill in our line of work. I must be ready to pivot when the demand comes."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I feel that it is crucial to create alternative scenarios in all situations. One cannot guess what will happen in the end, so it is great to prepare for all possible outcomes. With a background in competitive sports, this approach rings very true for me. For instance, as the team captain of my soccer team, I would have to anticipate what my competitors' next move would be. I will apply these same methodologies in my career as a Police Dispatcher."
11.
When entering a new job, describe how you build relationships with your new coworkers and supervisors.
The interviewer would like to know how you plan to start relationships with your new co-workers. Due to a wide variety of personalities, coworker connections can take time to form. How do you ensure that you have an active line of communication with your co-workers and supervisors, right from the start?

Here are some ideas for getting started on the right foot:

- Be willing to accept feedback and help
- Avoid all company gossip, at all cost
- Be early on your first day (and every day after that!)
- Be a good conversationalist - ask your coworkers questions about themselves!

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I will show up on time and dressed appropriately. I spend as much time as I can getting to know my new coworkers and telling them about myself and my family, and asking them about theirs. It is important to understand people on a bit of a personal level to know how to approach them."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I understand that some relationships come quickly, and others take time to nurture. When starting a new job, all that I can do is be my true self and let my personality, integrity, and reliability speak for itself."
12.
How would you handle a call from a panicked person who was speaking unintelligibly?
Police 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
"If I had a call from a panicked person who was speaking unintelligibly, I would calmly ask them to slow down. Then, I would guide the conversation by asking pointed questions such as 'What is your name?' and 'Are you hurt?' or 'Is this an emergency?' By getting yes and no answers, it will help the caller to catch their breath and provide me with the foundational responses that I need to dispatch assistance correctly."
13.
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 police 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 police 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."
14.
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 Police 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."
15.
As a Police Dispatcher, you will be on the phone for the majority of your shift. How do you feel about this?
A Police Dispatcher can take multiple calls in an hour, and work 12 hour + shifts, depending on their region. The hiring authority wants to know that you are up for the challenge of being on the phone for the majority of your day. If you already have exposure to this type of environment, assure the interviewer that you understand the constraints present in the role. If you are new to your career as a Police Dispatcher, discuss what you have done, and will do, to ensure resilience.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked in incredibly fast-paced dispatch environments when walking away from the phone is not an option, often for hours at a time. I come prepared with a full understanding of the jobs' expectations as well as physical requirements."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am accustomed to sitting for long periods, from my time in university to the dispatcher training that I just completed. I believe that the fast pace of the job, along with the fact that no day is the same, will keep me excited and motivated."
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30 Police Dispatcher Interview Questions
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Interview Questions
  1. 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?
  2. Describe a job where you've provided service to a wide variety of people from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.
  3. A Police Dispatcher must pay exceptional attention to the small details. How would your co-workers describe your attention to detail?
  4. A Police Dispatcher must know the region in which they operate. How strong is your geographic knowledge?
  5. Do you have any diversity training experience? Talk about the ways that you embrace diversity in the workplace.
  6. When have you shown great integrity at work?
  7. Our Police Dispatchers are very busy. What kind of work volume are you capable of handling?
  8. Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?
  9. What has been your greatest accomplishment as a 911 dispatcher, so far?
  10. While on shift, how often do you create alternate scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?
  11. When entering a new job, describe how you build relationships with your new coworkers and supervisors.
  12. How would you handle a call from a panicked person who was speaking unintelligibly?
  13. Are you willing to learn the rules of the FCC in regards to frequency use?
  14. How familiar are you with criminal law in our region?
  15. As a Police Dispatcher, you will be on the phone for the majority of your shift. How do you feel about this?
  16. Talk about one weakness, as it relates to your work as a Police Dispatcher. How will you work to improve this weakness?
  17. What has been your greatest accomplishment as a Police Dispatcher, so far?
  18. What do you believe to be the most essential quality of a Police Dispatcher?
  19. After each call, how do you evaluate your performance?
  20. Can you stand above pressure and make calm, rational decisions in the wake of an emergency?
  21. Why are you the best Police Dispatcher for us?
  22. What advice would you give to a fellow dispatcher who was stressed out?
  23. A Police Dispatcher must react appropriately under pressure. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  24. Describe your communication style. Why will your approach to communication be helpful as a Police Dispatcher?
  25. Have you spoken with other Police Dispatchers regarding what this career is like?
  26. Proper filing of reports is critical. Talk about your documentation skills and how you keep your records organized.
  27. Talk about your written communication skills.
  28. The need for police assistance never ends. Are you willing to work holidays and weekends?
  29. Do you have current certification in CPR and First Aid? Are you comfortable giving CPR instructions on a call?
  30. Talk about your clerical skills, and how they will help you succeed as a Police Dispatcher.
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