How To Prepare for a SWAT Team Interview in 7 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 2, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

SWAT teams have an important role in many communities to protect the public in potentially dangerous situations. If you want to become a SWAT officer, it's important to demonstrate your skills and qualifications during the interview process to show you can handle the various responsibilities of the position. When applying for a position on a SWAT team, it's helpful to know what you can expect during the interview process so you can prepare effectively.

In this article, we explain what a SWAT team is, describe their responsibilities and provide a list of steps for how to prepare for a SWAT team interview.

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What is a SWAT team?

A special weapons and tactics team, also known as a SWAT team, is a group of highly trained officers who respond to high-risk situations to provide crisis management operations. Typically, these teams respond to incidents that may present a risk to traditional law enforcement officers, such as deputies or detectives. SWAT team members have specialized training that helps them resolve crisis situations effectively. For example, SWAT teams may respond to a hostage situation to negotiate a peaceful outcome. Many law enforcement agencies have SWAT teams, including city police departments, county sheriff's offices, state law enforcement agencies and some federal agencies.

SWAT teams may face potentially dangerous situations, so they undergo intense training to prepare them for how to respond. Usually, SWAT team members have different areas of specialty, such as negotiation or weaponry. In some departments, SWAT officers may have other responsibilities, such as traffic enforcement, in addition to their role on the team.

Related: How To Become a SWAT Officer

What does a SWAT team do?

A SWAT team responds to situations that may threaten law enforcement officers or the general public. To prepare for these situations, the team participates in regular physical training to ensure they have the physical fitness to do their jobs effectively. They also train with various weapons they may require during a high-risk situation, such as sniper rifles. Most departments expect their SWAT team members to maintain on-call availability so they can respond to situations quickly.

The types of situations that may require a SWAT team can vary widely, but typically their duties include:

  • Negotiating hostage situations

  • Participating in counterterrorism efforts

  • Apprehending armed or potentially dangerous suspects

  • Serving arrest warrants to potentially violent suspects

  • Providing crowd control operations at large events

  • Coordinating ways to remove a barricaded suspect

How to prepare for a SWAT team interview

If you're interviewing for a position on a SWAT team, here are some steps you can take to prepare:

1. Research common interview questions

Before you interview for a SWAT officer position, take some time to research common interview questions that a committee may ask you. If you know someone on a SWAT team, ask them what types of questions they received during their interview. You can also do a search online for some common SWAT team interview questions. Here are some examples of questions you may get during your interview:

  • How do you work as part of a team?

  • How would you make important decisions as a SWAT officer?

  • Can you describe a time when you remained calm during a difficult situation?

  • What do you think your biggest strengths would be as a SWAT officer?

  • Why do you want to become a SWAT officer?

Related: Common Police Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

2. Practice your answers

It's helpful to practice your answers during a mock interview to build your confidence. When you interview for a SWAT officer position, you're likely to meet with several people, including SWAT leaders and captains of other departments, such as crisis management. Ask a few of your family members or trusted friends if they can help you prepare by acting as your interviewers. Supply them with a list of questions and ask them to critique your performance after the mock interview. You can also prepare for an interview individually by practicing in front of a mirror and recording your answers.

3. Think of your own questions

Because interviews are two-way conversations, your interviewers are likely to ask if you have any questions for them about the position. Bringing a list of prepared questions can show you take your commitment to the job seriously. Think of some questions you may already have about the SWAT team or look up some questions online. Use this opportunity to gain more insight into the position and what your role on the team might be. Here are some example questions you may ask during the interview:

  • How would you measure success in this position?

  • Can you tell me about the team I'd be working with?

  • What is the most challenging aspect of this position?

  • What's the biggest strength someone can bring to this position?

  • What would my role on the team be?

4. Prepare for the interview

In addition to practicing interview questions, it's also important to prepare for other areas of the interview to ensure you feel confident about the process. If you're interviewing for a SWAT position with a different law enforcement agency, drive to the building before your interview so you know where to go. Print out copies of your resume and professional references so you have those documents if the interviewers ask for them. If you've already completed any other assessments, such as a physical evaluation or a psychological review, you can also bring copies of those documents to give the interviewers.

Related: How To Prepare for an Interview

5. Speak confidently

During the interview, it's important to portray a confident attitude to show the interviewers you would make an excellent addition to the SWAT team. Take deep breaths and pause for a moment to prepare your thoughts before answering a question. Maintain eye contact with your interviewers while talking and speak clearly so they understand your answers. Portraying this confidence during your interview can demonstrate your mental stamina, which is an important attribute for SWAT officers.

6. Listen carefully

While you're interviewing for the position, the interviewers may give you some additional information about the position and your potential role on the SWAT team. Listen carefully so you can remember this information after the interview. Use nonverbal gestures, such as nodding, to show the interviewers you're actively listening to what they're saying. If you have questions, paraphrase the information they provide and ask if you're understanding them correctly. This shows interviewers you're listening carefully and taking the information seriously.

7. Follow up with interviewers

After the interview, it's important to follow up in a timely manner to convey your continued interest in the position. Send a group email within 24 hours to everyone who interviewed you. Thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. Let them know you're available to answer additional questions they may have about your qualifications for the SWAT team. Here's an example of a follow-up email you can send after an interview:

Dear [name of each interviewer],

Thank you for taking the time to interview me yesterday for the open SWAT officer position. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss my skills and qualifications for the position, including my robust medical training and proven negotiation tactics. Please let me know if you have any additional questions for me regarding the role. I look forward to hearing from you soon with your decision.


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