When everything is said and done, jobs in prisons are more popular than ever. We live in difficult times, people struggle with money, and it is fallacy to believe that we will see any significant decrease in the number of inmates in the United States, or anywhere else in the world. Desperate people do desperate things. And when they fail to obtain money in any legal way, and struggle to survive, committing crime can be their only option–or at least the only option they see. Anyway, back to your job application.

Hiring managers at detention facilities may inquire about your strengths and weaknesses. It isn’t the most sophisticated question, and you will for sure face many other questions on your way towards this job (check the full list of questions here), but it is still better to get ready, and know what strengths make sense for the job, and what weaknesses you should rather avoid mentioning.

Let’s move directly to 7 sample answers to this popular interview question. I tried to include a variety of answers on my list, including some unconventional choices. Hopefully at least one of them will resonate with you. Once done with the answers, do not forget to read also the text below them, to understand what attitude you should show in this interview, and what mistakes you should avoid.


7 sample answers to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” interview question for correctional officers

  1. My biggest strength is definitely responsibility. You can count on me 100% to always take care of my duties, and to always respect the rules. What’s more, I am very punctual, and it had never happened to me once that I missed the shift or even came late to my last job. But I can improve on my communication skills, especially listening, because it often happens to me that I struggle to maintain focus in a conversation, and may overhear something important. I am aware of my weakness though, and try my best to improve on it, staying present when talking to another person.
  2. I am physically strong and mentally resilient. In my opinion, it is a great combination for a job in a detention facility, and one of the reasons why I decided to apply for a job of a correctional officer, instead of some other jobs I can realistically get with my education and experience. I have one weakness though–at times I get angry easily, which I know is something I cannot afford to do while working with inmates. But I believe that colleagues on shift will help me to keep my nerves in check, and that it won’t restrain me from doing a good job in corrections.
  3. In my opinion, we should always strive to improve on our skills. And though I think I am mentally strong, and do well in communication with anyone, I do not want to be complacent. What’s more, I’ve never worked in prison, and I am sure that as I start the job I will identify some areas of improvement. You can be sure that I will do my best to improve on them quickly, and become the best correctional officer I can be.
  4. Teamwork is definitely my biggest strength. My colleagues can count on me always, and I am ready to risk my life for a colleague on shift. That’s my attitude, and I actually enjoy a lot belonging to the team of people who share the same mindset. I also believe to have great observation skills, which should help me to spot any problems early, or any contraband in prison. Speaking about my weaknesses, I sometimes find it hard to stay vigilant on a night shift. But I know night shifts belong to this job, and without a doubt I will get used to working at night.
  5. My biggest strength is my experience. I’ve been working in prisons and other detention facilities for past ten years. Seen it all, done it all, as they rightly say. What I try to convey here is that I have experience with all challenges this job presents, including some tough and risky situations with the inmates. Without a doubt my colleagues can rely on me, and also learn something from me in the job. Just like everyone else though, I am not perfect. I sometimes lose motivation, and at times I find it hard to keep professional distance from the inmates, especially if I find some of them interesting personalities. In spite of my experience, I still see some room for improvement…
  6. I believe my biggest strength is my attitude to this type of work. Many people are in only for money, but that’s not my case. I see a meaningful purpose in this job, in the service we do for society. In order to live in a safe world, we have to protect the society from crime, and make sure dangerous people are in prisons, where we try to educate them, making sure they won’t pose threat for society once they leave the prison gates. When you have such an attitude, giving your 100% every day at work is a norm. That means respecting the rules, always being on time, not underestimating anything. And that’s exactly what I am looking forward to do at your place. Having said that, I lack experience with this type of work, which is undoubtedly my weakness. You can prepare for the work in theory, but certain things you simply have to experience first hand, in order to know how you react in them, and how they will impact you emotionally.
  7. I am not afraid of anything. Lot of experience with martial arts, arms, combat. I believe in a special facility like this one such skills come handy, and one cannot be afraid of dangerous confrontations. I am not afraid, and I am also mentally strong, which I believe to be my greatest strength. But I may sometimes struggle with discipline though, and am not the best in leading teams. It fits me more when someone else leads me in the job, and I can simply focus on my duties with the inmates.


Show willingness to improve on your weaknesses

Nobody is perfect, and you should mention at least one weakness that can have a certain impact on the quality of your work of a correctional officer. However, your attitude matters more than anything else to the hiring staff in prison. Elaborate on your answer.

Ensure them that you are aware of your weaknesses, and know how they can limit you in the job. Hence you are ready to work on them, and ideally eliminate them after some time in the job. That’s the attitude they seek in best job applicants.

Lack of experience is always a good answer

Reading this post, the chances are high you are applying for your first correctional officer job. If that’s the case, and if you cannot come up with anything better in terms of your weaknesses, you can always say that lack of experience is your biggest weakness. Once again, you should elaborate on it, to make sure hiring managers won’t misunderstand you.

Check sample answer no. 6 as a great example. Sure, you can know everything about the job, and feel ready to handle every challenge. But it is impossible to say how you’ll react in this or that tricky situation with an inmate, or with another colleague. You’ll have to experience them first to know, and this uncertainty is without a doubt your weakness…

Ready to answer the questions about your strengths and weaknesses? I hope so! Do not forget to check full list of interview questions for correctional officers, or 7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be a correctional officer?” question. Thank you, and good luck!


Matthew Chulaw
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