The most significant part of your criminal justice job search is the interview. An interview gives you the chance to tell a hiring manager why you are the only candidate he should consider. Interviews are not just beneficial for a company. They also benefit the job candidate. The position may look great on paper, but you need to make sure that this is the right place for you. An interview is your one opportunity to actually step inside the organization and get a feel for the work you will be performing and the people you will be interacting with.

Types of Interviews

Many companies and government agencies conduct the initial interview over the telephone. Phone interviews are somewhat easier on the job candidate. You are able to sit in the comfort of your own home and answer their questions. You may decide to make a few notes to reference during the call. Organizations like these interviews because they help weed out candidates that are truly not qualified for the position.

If you impress during the phone interview, you will be asked to come in for a personal interview. Private sector companies and the government will conduct personal interviews with candidates. A candidate may go through a series of these interviews with various managers and department heads. Organizations want to make sure they have the right person for the job, so many different people will have input into the hiring decision. These interviews will ask you in-depth questions about your qualifications, education, and training. Common questions include asking why you are the best candidate, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or how you respond to stressful situations.

Government agencies may also conduct oral interviews with candidates. These interviews are designed to test your reaction to certain scenarios. Often, three agents will ask questions that gauge your decision making process, interpersonal relationship skills, judgment, emotional stability, and sensitivity to certain issues.

How to Succeed in an Interview

If you are successful in an interview, you are one step closer to being offered the job. Many job candidates are nervous before the big interview. After all, this is the job they have been dreaming about since college. Use these tips to help reduce your anxiety and succeed in an interview.

  • Prepare - Rule #1 is never go into an interview cold. Reviewing your resume and the job description are not enough. You need to practice answering interview questions. There are plenty of books and websites that have lists of these sample questions. Have a friend or family member ask you the questions and then honestly critique your answers. Their feedback will show you areas when you need to improve on. Practicing not only relieves some of the anxiety, but helps you build up confidence in your abilities.
  • Act Like a Professional - This is the easiest part of the interview, but one many people fail at. Show up to the interview dressed as a professional. Jeans, t-shirts, tennis shoes, and rumpled hair do not project a professional image. Turn off your phones and pagers. Act respectfully to every person you encounter during the interview process. You never know who you may end up working with.
  • Sell Yourself with Specifics - Confidently talk about your accomplishments. Do not just mention that you have a stellar arrest record. Let the interviewer know how many arrests you made. Talk about specific crime prevention programs you enacted at local schools and how those helped reduce the rate of targeted crimes. Provide specific details as to how the new crime lab method you devised helped reduce the amount of time spent processing evidence. When it comes time to make a hiring decision, the interviewer will remember candidates who specifically told her what they can do for the organization.
  • Be Engaged - Candidates who are engaged and show interest in the interviewer and the position are much more successful. Do not be afraid to speak up and ask relevant questions about the job duties. Nonverbal actions are as important as verbal ones. Smile or nod your head in agreement with points the interviewer makes.
  • Following Up - It will not be enough to just thank the interviewer for her time at the close of the interview. You need to follow-up with a short letter or e-mail. Do not just say thank you. Include a few brief statements, highlighting one more time why you are the best candidate for this position. This simple act may help you receive a job offer.
  • Last Updated: 04/29/2014