We live in an era of prisons. Correctional officer is 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 opinion about various situations. They may also use The Correction Officer Exam – 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, and pass the test.

Quick word to the test: It includes reading comprehension, situational judgement, math skills test and other–not an easy one to pass to be honest. If you think this one may pose a challenge for you, have a look at an excellent test practice package for Correctional Officers from JobTestPrep. Practicing the test questions for a few hours before the start of your interview improves your chances of passing drastically…


Show them the right attitude – another part of the puzzle

  • You must show them that you consider this role 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 the people, and do not play someone who knows everything, the king of the world. Showing any arrogance would be a mistake. It would jeopardize your chances of getting hired. You should also obey the rules and let them to lead the interview
  • Pass the test. There are no shortcuts here. If you aren’t sure how to get ready for the written examination, and some funny (or not so funny) parts of it, such as the situational judgement test, check this excellent correctional officer test preparation material. It’s a paid product but worth every penny when you consider what’s at stake.


Possible interview questions you may face

* For in-detail analysis and sample answers to the questions, please check the link at the end of this article.

  • Can you tell me something about yourself? Try to stay relevant, speak about your working experience (or skills and career choice if you happen to have no experience), and mention one or two hobbies. Do not elaborate on individual things–they will ask if they want to know more. Keep it simple at this point.
  • Why do you want to work as a correctional officer? Our real motives (decent salary, early retirement, or basically a need to have any job and support our family) are not always the reasons we should refer to in an interview. Show them that there is something more, something that will actually make you happy (or at least satisfied) in this job–such as finding a meaningful purpose, doing something for the community, etc. Click the title to see 7 sample answers to this question.
  • What do you want to achieve on this position? You can focus on small everyday achievements—which are possible in any job. To such belong: having good relationship with your colleagues, doing your job with the highest level of responsibility, trying to be a role model for someone, etc.
  • Have you ever been to prison? Try to focus on positive experience, and of understanding how these facilities work–with their daily regiment, shift patterns, strong rules of discipline, etc.
  • Can you tell me something more about your working experience? Try to talk mostly about relevant experience, and if you have no experience, explain clearly why you made your mind to apply for a job in a detention facility.
  • Have you ever worked with inmates? Stay calm while answering the question. Even if you have a bad experience, talk about it in a calm voice. They shouldn’t notice a trace of anger or hate in your voice.On the other hand, if you have a positive experience, talk about it with enthusiasm.
  • 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 skin color.
  • 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. Show them that you expect to be busy, and follow the rules.
  • 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 prison, to do an excellent job, are some good alternatives for an answer.
  • Are you afraid of any person or situation? 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.
  • 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.
  • Give me a time when you have worked with a younger individual, to resolve behavioral problems.
  • Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.
  • What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • A friendly inmate with a great track record in recent years tries to start a relationship with you. What would you do?
  • How important is teamwork for you? Do you consider yourself a team player?
  • What will make you leave this job?

In-detail answers to all tough questions, plus more

Since I received several request for coaching (for this particular interview), I decided to talk to correctional officers I knew, analyze the interview process, and write a simple yet effective eBook that will help anyone prepare for this interview in a few hours.

You can check it out here: Correctional Officer Interview Guide. Important note: You can see some great sample answers to interview questions on the eBook page, so even if you do not want to purchase anything, it still makes sense to check it out (to read the answers…)

That’s it guys, thank you for reading, and good luck on a big day! Hopefully we’ll meet on the right side of the wired fence :).


Matthew Chulaw
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