• Know the department. Make sure you take the time to research the department. Know the mission, the values, and how the department is constructed. In addition, make sure you want to work for that department. There is advice in the criminal justice field that says you should take whatever you get. I disagree with that to a point. Yes, I feel you should take the opportunities that present themselves, but I also feel it is crucial to make sure you WANT to be there. Your life will be miserable if you are stuck in a department where you don’t fit!
• Have questions. Many times at the end of an interview, the panel will ask you if you have any questions. If you simply answer, “No” then they do not feel like you are really interested. Think of three to five questions to ask. You can develop these questions from the mission, values, and construction of the department during your pre-interview prep. Do not ask about money, benefits, and time off as this is why they have a human resources department. Plus, those items will only matter when you get the job.
• Bring a notepad. Like I mentioned above, interviews are nerve-racking and you will forget. So, write down some basic facts on the department, your questions, and any other items that you feel are important.
Self-Assess. Make sure you know who you are as a person. You will be asked some form of a question that asks for your strengths and weaknesses. Take some time before the interview to write down three to five strengths and three to five weaknesses. By taking the time to self-assess, you show maturity and a willingness to grow not only professionally, but personally.
• Dress to Impress. This is so important. For guys, invest in a suit and a few dress shirts and ties. For females, purchase a nice dress suit for the interview. I have seen people show up to interviews in everything from sweats and t-shirts to tuxedos. This is a professional field and you will be expected to look professional when you are working in the criminal justice field. Trust me, it is worth the investment. Also, make sure you are clean cut and for males, shave. I would also offer to make sure your shoes are polished and free from dirt.