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Police Dispatcher Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by
| 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

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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Police Dispatcher Interview Questions

  1. 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

      "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

      "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. 2.

    After each call, how do you evaluate your performance?

      As a Police 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

      "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

      "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 Police Dispatcher that I can be."

  3. 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

      "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

      "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. 4.

    What has been your greatest accomplishment as a Police Dispatcher, so far?

      Accomplishing something at work, big or small, is a highly motivating subject. Talk to the interviewer about what your proudest career accomplishment has been so far, and why. Be sure to take pride in your answer, showing the hiring authority that you take your work seriously.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have many career accomplishments that make me proud. Overall, I would say that my greatest work accomplishment is the positive reputation that I have in this industry. My biggest accomplishment as a Police Dispatcher would be summed up by all of the children that I have been able to help. I have a deep level of compassion for children who are in scary situations, so every time I can assist a minor, I feel an even deeper sense of accomplishment."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The greatest accomplishment I have had so far is graduating with my degree in criminal justice as an honors student while still working part-time as a volunteer dispatcher. This achievement showed me that I could dedicate myself to my career and reach the goals that I set for myself. It felt great to accomplish so much and earn recognition for my educational dedication."

  5. 5.

    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

      "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

      "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."

  6. 6.

    Why are you the best Police 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 Police 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

      "I am the best candidate for your Police 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

      "I feel that I am the best Police 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."

  7. 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

      "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

      "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. 8.

    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

      "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

      "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."

  9. 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

      "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

      "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. 10.

    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

      "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

      "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."

  11. 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

      "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

      "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. 12.

    Talk about one weakness, as it relates to your work as a Police Dispatcher. How will you work to improve this weakness?

      Everyone has weaknesses! The better you answer this question, the more self-aware you appear. Your self-awareness will show the interviewer that you will come to the job, ready and willing to learn. Choose a weakness that is not a core skill for your success as a Police Dispatcher. For instance, a Police Dispatcher should not say that they struggle with active listening. You can be candid in your answer, recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "One weakness, as it relates to my work as a Police Dispatcher, is my tendency to speed up my speech when I want to move faster towards a resolution for the caller. My current supervisor presented this feedback to me a few months ago, and I have been consciously working to improve on this by slowing my speech and being more methodical with my questions while on a call. I appreciate receiving this type of feedback as it allows me to grow in my career and better help others."

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My biggest weakness at this point is my lack of dispatch experience, which may translate to hesitation at first. I am an attentive person, and I like to jump into a situation, but only when I feel competent. I have already begun studying topics such as criminal law and have brushed up on my T-CPR knowledge, another skill I will need to know by heart when working in dispatch. I suspect that this hesitation will dissipate quickly, with further training and exposure to the job."

  13. 13.

    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

      "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

      "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."

  14. 14.

    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

      "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

      "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."

  15. 15.

    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

      "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

      "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."

  16. 16.

    Are you willing to learn the rules of the FCC in regards to frequency use?

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  17. 17.

    How would you handle a call from a panicked person who was speaking unintelligibly?

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  18. 18.

    While on shift, how often do you create alternate scenarios to help you adjust to changing situations?

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  19. 19.

    What do you believe to be the most essential quality of a Police Dispatcher?

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  20. 20.

    Describe a job where you've provided service to a wide variety of people from diverse racial, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds.

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  21. 21.

    Can you stand above pressure and make calm, rational decisions in the wake of an emergency?

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  22. 22.

    What advice would you give to a fellow dispatcher who was stressed out?

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  23. 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.

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  24. 24.

    Describe your communication style. Why will your approach to communication be helpful as a Police Dispatcher?

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  25. 25.

    Have you spoken with other Police Dispatchers regarding what this career is like?

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  26. 26.

    Proper filing of reports is critical. Talk about your documentation skills and how you keep your records organized.

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  27. 27.

    Talk about your written communication skills.

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  28. 28.

    The need for police assistance never ends. Are you willing to work holidays and weekends?

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  29. 29.

    Do you have current certification in CPR and First Aid? Are you comfortable giving CPR instructions on a call?

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  30. 30.

    Talk about your clerical skills, and how they will help you succeed as a Police Dispatcher.

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