Honestly it really doesn’t matter if you’re aiming to be a prison guard, county jailer, or a detention officer inside a state/federal prison. The interview questions will likely be similar as inmates have similar habits.
Therefore, be prepared for questions like “why do you want to become a corrections officer” or “what are the duties of a detention officer.” Those two questions are guaranteed to be asked regardless of what agency you’re interviewing for.
I always shake my head when people complain about the interview process for any job. I’ve heard a bunch of complaints about many different aspects of the interview process, but the ones I find to be really funny is when someone complains that the questions being asked by the interviewer are dumb and have no relevance to the job.
First of all, I laugh because when they say this, they are actually saying that they already no more of what is involved with the job than the interviewer. But besides the ego being presented, I also try to explain that those questions do have purpose. They may have no purpose or reason in your opinion, but the interview is not a chance for you to learn about the agency, but a time where the law enforcement agency tries to learn about you.
I think that this purpose of the interview is especially important to remember during the Correctional Officer interview. They aren’t interested in why you want to be a corrections officer, but whether you will fit into their agency’s team. The interview is not for you, but for the Interview board.
They will not be asking you the questions for you to show off your best attributes. They will be asking questions for you to show off the attributes that they are looking for. This means that you need to prepare before going into the interview, because if you are only knowledgeable and aware of the attributes that you think are your best, you may not be prepared to show the attributes that the board is looking for.
So, if the interview is for the board, then what are they looking for? That is the question that you should focus on before heading into the interview. Interviewing techniques and hiring qualities may differ slightly between employers in the federal, state, county, and private sectors, but will usually revolve around some general categories:
- Respect for Authority
- Non-Discriminatory Views
- Character Strength
- Ability to Handle Stress
Interviewers tend to use two types of questions: Behavioral-Based and Situational. Behavioral-Based questions ask you to describe an event or choice you made that indicates a certain attribute: for example, “Describe an event where you made a choice that was not popular, but you felt was right.” you can look over a list of sample behavioral base questions here.
Preparing For Interview Questions
Conversely, situational questions are based on hypothetical settings and events, where you explain what you would do if those events did happen: for example, “What would you do if an inmate offered you a bribe?” You can review a list of frequently asked situational questions and best answers here.
If you know what type of questions are going to be asked, and what categories of attributes are going to be focused on, I figure that it should be easy to guess what questions will be asked during the interview. If you are struggling to figure out the questions, I’ve created a detailed study guide that can lay them all out in a way that is clear and concise.
Now, if you know what questions will probably be asked during the interview, the next step is to plan ahead. I think that the Behavioral-based questions are the easiest to prepare for, but I also find that most people shrug off their preparation because it might be too easy. I would suggest that you make a list of potential questions they could ask, and then go through your life and find examples that fit each question.
I find that it is easier if you pick “big” examples, whether they be major life events or just serious examples. These examples tend to be more fluid, so if you can answer a number of different or modified questions in an attribute area, it should be easier than trying to remember a small example for each specific question. As well, this is a time where your honesty can come through – making mistakes in the past is usually not as serious if you are honest about them and show that you have changed.
For the Situational questions, you need to know not only what you would do, but also the answer that is being looked for by the interviewers. Now, if you are going into corrections as a career, I would hope that those answers would be very similar, if not the same.
However, there are some answers that you should automatically know and give based on the expectations. Don’t hesitate when they ask the no-brainers like whether you would take a bribe or abuse an inmate. Give them the answer that they are looking for, and continue on.
At the same time, still find resources that will give you sample interview questions for corrections officers so that you can know what will probably be asked. As well, doing research on the specific prison may be helpful, as prisons often have specific problems that they are dealing with.
A prison that is filled with gang-members will probably have more questions regarding dealing with gangs or discrimination, while a minimum-security prison with white-collar criminals will focus more on privileges and bribery. Go in with planned answers for as many of these questions as you can.
I think that the other thing that is often forgotten in the interview process is that the board is watching your confidence level as they go through the questions. They want to know that you know the answers, and also know why they are the correct answers. By being prepared for their questions, your answers will exude more confidence, which is one of the most important attributes that they will be looking for in their corrections officers.