How To Conduct An Interview

April 08, 2017

How To Conduct An Interview

By Ian Scofield

Staff Writer

Earlier in the week we posted an article about attending an interview, now we are back with how to be on the other side of a board.  A lot of people think that it is fairly easy to sit on a board from personal experience I know it is hard.  Here are some of the best tips from experience and research.

It Isn’t Personal

The first thing that you need to do is understand that a promotion board or interview is professional, not personal.  Whether you like the person or not is only a small factor in the interview.  You need to assess whether they can do the job or not.  This is especially important if you have any attachment to the person from before the board.

How To Conduct An Interview

If you aren’t the only person sitting on the interview, you should take time before the interview to review the resume and then discuss what you have read. 

Also take a moment to discuss what you are looking for and any problems that appear from the applicant’s information.  This helps to make sure you are all on the same page.  You can also find any questions that you might want to ask to clarify an applicant’s qualifications.

Structure Your Interview

Having a structure for your interview helps to keep you on track.  It also helps to ensure that you hit all of the applicable areas.  Lastly, the structure makes sure that you don’t go over the allotted time if you don’t want/need to.

It might help for your agency to come up with an interview schedule template so that you have a guide to help you plan said interview.

Know What You Can And Can’t Ask

There are a variety of questions that you can’t ask during an interview.  For example, you cannot ask how old a candidate is or if they are married.  Other questions that can’t be asked relate to race, religion, and health.  Most of these questions are prohibited by federal employment laws.  Some states may have additional questions that you can and can’t ask.

Stress Isn’t Needed

No matter what you do during the interview, your candidate will be under stress, especially in a law enforcement world.  Candidates you interview will have already gone through other tests such as the physical and written test.  Probably at least a psychological test too.  They stressed through those tests and will be stressed to not lose further momentum in the process.

You want to see who the person is, what their qualifications are, and where they have come from.  Based on their experience you can get a sense of their ability to handle stress.  But if they are stressed the whole time they may not be themselves. 

Typically, in an interview the last questions are the most complicated.  If you and your panel want to see how a candidate operates under stress, start raising the stress level at the end.  This will give you a chance to observe the candidate both with and without stress.

Be Actual

Most interviews contain questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” these types of questions help you to get an idea for who the person is but don’t forget to ask actual questions.  Ask How they have solved problems in the past, how they would solve theoretical problems, and other questions that will give you an idea for how they would handle the world of policing.

It Is Okay To Go Over

All interviews should have an allotted time for the length of the interview just to ensure that everything is on a timeline and you can get what you need done for the day.  It also gives you a guideline for how quickly to get everything done.  It is only a guideline though, if you have a candidate that shows a lot of promise but you want to learn more about them, then go over. 

As a courtesy to others being interviewed it is best practice to either go outside and notify the next candidate of the delay or call someone that can.  This way the person isn’t left worrying or wondering.

These are just some good tips for conducting an interview.  There are a variety of different principles and theories about interviewing for hiring or promotion.  It is also important to make sure that you take into account HR and department policies when conducting interviews.


About the Author


Ian graduated Seattle University with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held positions as an Auxiliary Department of Public Safety Officer, a Security Patrol Supervisor, and as an in-house security officer for a major medical center. Through all of this he has picked up a wealth of experience, training, and education that he is happy to pass on to others.

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