Last updated on January 16th, 2019 at 06:20 pm

hand behind bars, a picture from prisonWe live in an era of prisons. Correctional officer is quite a typical job nowadays, doesn’t matter how strange it may sound to some of us.

I know personally at least ten people who work on different positions in various detention facilities. And I have been detained in a prison in Iran for six months. But that’s another story….

The hiring committee will ask you about different things: your attitude to prisoners, your experience, your physical condition, your teaching methodology, and other things.

They will also use psychometric tests – to ensure that you are capable to do the job, and mentally healthy. Taking into account the responsibilities of correctional officers, you definitely need to do a few things in an interview.


Show them the right attitude

  • You must show them that you consider this role to be your personal mission. While your main duty is to guard the detainees, you should also want to help the sentenced to get back on track, once their sentence ends. That’s what you should answer when they ask you why did you apply for this job – and you can bet you will get this question.
  • You need to present yourself as a confident individual, someone who isn’t afraid of anything. To be stressed in an interview is never a good sign. However, it would be a huge mistake in an interview for a correctional officer job. Good candidates for this position need to be confident, and ready to handle difficult situations that may arise in every detention facility. 
  • Show respect in an interview. Hiring officers in prisons are accustomed to be respected. In an interview for a correctional officer position, you should show them the respect they are used to feel. How to do it? Try to be nice to everyone, and do not play someone who knows everything, the king of the world. Showing any arrogance would be a huge mistake. It would jeopardize your chances of getting hired.


Possible questions you can get

  • Can you tell me something about yourself? (Try to stay relevant, speak about your education and previous working experience, mention one or two hobbies. Do not elaborate on individual things–they will ask if they want to know more.)
  • Why do you want this job? (This is your chance to show right motives, and attitude to prisoners. Do not say that you want it becasue it pays well and you are a strong guy. Show them that there is something more, something that will actually make you happy (or at least satisfied) in this job.)
  • Why do you think you can be a good correctional officer? (List your strengths, tell them about your sense for discipline and respect. Explain them that you have all it takes to handle the job.)
  • Have you ever been to prison? (Try to focus on positive experience, and of understanding how these facilities work–with their daily regiment, shift pasterns, strong rules of discipline, etc.)
  • Can I see your certifications?
  • Can you tell me something more about your working experience? (Try to talk mostly about relevant experience, and if you have no relevant experience, explain clearly why you made your mind to apply for a job in a detention facility.)
  • Have you ever worked with inmates? (If you have not, ensure them that you know what will be expected from you, and how to approach the inmates.)
  • Describe an average inmate. (Try to be positive in your characteristic of an inmate. But you can definitely add features like ‘unpredictable’ or ‘egocentric’ to your characteristic. Avoid any racist comments, such as pointing to a certain color of skin.)
  • How do you imagine your daily job? (Discipline, discipline, and discipline. Show them that you expect to work hard, and to be always on guard. Job description should help you to understand how your typical day will look like. Study the job description carefully before you go for an interview.)
  • What motivates you? (Though most people apply for this job because it pays well, you should look for other motives. Helping the sentenced to get back on track, or utilizing your strengths in the position, are some good alternatives for an answer.)
  • Are you afraid of prisoners? (In no way should you be afraid, but at the same time, you should understand the dangers the job represents, and clearly explain them in an interview.)
  • Why should we hire you? (You can list your strengths again, stressing that you meet all job requirements. Or you can talk about your motivation and self belief. One way or another, show some confidence so we can see that you believe in your skills.
  • Can you tell me something about your teaching methodology?
  • Have you even been in a fight with someone? (Better say not, and if you were, stress that it was a self-defense, or that you were defending someone who was attacked.)
  • We have rules for everything here. Tell me about the time you found it difficult to follow the rule. (Actually there are rules in every company, in every employment. The key is to stress that you understand the importance of rules in detention facilities, and will follow the orders of your superiors, regardless of whether you like them or not.)
  • Imagine you saw four prisoners beating fifth in the corridor. What action would you take?
  • What are your salary expectations? (Check the statistics for average salaries in your city/county/country. Be realistic in your expectations. More often than not, there will be no room for negotiations–they simply pay the same amount of money to each new correctional officer.)


Woman interviews a normal guy for a job in prison, illustration pictureIn-detail answers to the questions

You can find answers to most of these questions in our viral article 15 most common interview questions, or in the section interview questions in detail. It should help you to prepare for the big day.

Always remember to show some confidence, and clear determination to not only guard, but also to help the sentenced to return back to normal life.

Your motives, and you attitude to prisoners, are the two most important things for the interviewers. We wish you good luck in this tough interview!

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of website.
Matthew Chulaw

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