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Correctional Officer Interview Questions

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  1. Why do you want to work as a correctional officer? See answer
  2. How would you handle the aggression and confrontation you are likely to face at this kind of job? See answer
  3. Can you handle yourself physically when called upon to do so? See answer
  4. How would you describe the typical workday of a correctional officer? See answer
  5. How would you handle the stress of working as a correctional officer? See answer
  6. Working as a correctional officer requires you to maintain constant awareness of your environment and attention to detail. Tell me about a time you were able to use your observational skills to resolve or prevent a problem. See answer
  7. One of the key duties for a correctional officer is to keep the peace among inmates who are having issues. Tell me about a time you successfully used conflict resolution skills.
  8. How would you maintain professional boundaries if an inmate started to befriend you or ask for favors?
  9. How would you respond if you saw another correctional officer harassing an inmate?
  10. What steps would you take if an inmate disobeyed a direct order?
  11. Many inmates have mental health issues that impact their behavior and communication abilities. Do you have any experience working with people with mental illness?
  12. How would you rate your ability to stay calm when being provoked?
  13. Describe the strategies you would use to ensure different areas of the correctional facility were secure.
  14. What is the appropriate protocol for reporting and documenting suspicious behavior from inmates?
  15. Correctional officers may witness crimes, violence and harassment on the job. Are you able to regulate your emotions to do your job effectively?
  16. What would you do if you noticed missing supplies from an inmate worksite?
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6 Correctional Officer Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Why do you want to work as a correctional officer?

A:

Correctional facilities are designed to rehabilitate offenders, and every officer on staff should be on board with that mission. The candidate should not be interested in the profession in order to punish criminal offenders or to have power or control over others. They should seek to promote and facilitate peace, tranquility and order in the facility. A personal connection to the criminal justice system can also be helpful.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A rehabilitative philosophy of corrections
  • The ability to treat everyone with humanity, dignity and respect
  • A sense of honor, duty and justice

Example:

“My attitude is I’m there to help everyone complete their time and get out of there in one piece and, hopefully, as a better person for the experience.”

Q:

How would you handle the aggression and confrontation you are likely to face at this kind of job?

A:

Correctional officers protect not only the prison, its staff and the public but the inmates as well. You want to know that the applicant has experience in diffusing volatile situations. A good answer will tell you that the best way to deal with aggression is to do everything possible to prevent it from arising. Treating inmates with respect and humanity can help avert hostile behavior, and they should be able to explain how they’ve remained calm in challenging situations in the past. The ability to know when to ask for help is also essential.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to remain calm in the face of confrontation
  • Awareness of protocol and the value of sticking to it
  • Willingness to seek help when needed

Example:

“I try to treat everyone decently, so in past facilities, inmates didn’t give me problems. If someone did, I’d stay calm and follow procedure.”

Q:

Can you handle yourself physically when called upon to do so?

A:

Sometimes, a correctional officer will have to break up an altercation or restrain and subdue a violent inmate. The person you hire must be capable of handling a physical altercation without harming the inmate or themselves. The candidate must also convey confidence in their strength and physical ability.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A confident demeanor
  • Physical fitness and strength
  • Experience in defensive combat and diffusing conflict

Example:

“I had to break up fights a lot at my last facility, and I never got hit or hit another person once. They called me the peacemaker.”

Q:

How would you describe the typical workday of a correctional officer?

A:

Not unlike military service, work in a correctional facility is defined by routine. A correctional officer must, therefore, be punctual, disciplined and able to stick to a schedule and thrive on structure. The best correctional officers are well-suited to such conditions and are not prone to boredom or restlessness from monotony.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Punctuality and discipline
  • The ability to thrive in a routine
  • Alertness and focus

Example:

“Every job I’ve held has required a lot of discipline and routine, but I never get bored. I actually thrive when I know what’s expected of me at every moment.”

Q:

How would you handle the stress of working as a correctional officer?

A:

You don’t want to hire a correctional officer who will only last one or two years before quitting from burnout. The job can be stressful even under the best of conditions, and the officers on your team can’t take that tension home with them. Hearing how a candidate deals with difficulty and manages their feelings can give you confidence in that person’s staying power on your team.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Healthy, proactive stress-management skills
  • The ability to leave work at work
  • A calm and even-keeled disposition

Example:

“I swim every day after work. It helps me blow off steam. When stresses happen at work, I try to put them in perspective and don’t take anything personally.”

Q:

Working as a correctional officer requires you to maintain constant awareness of your environment and attention to detail. Tell me about a time you were able to use your observational skills to resolve or prevent a problem.

A:

Because correctional officers are in charge of overseeing inmates and regulating their behavior, it is essential for them to stay alert to warning signs of possible issues. Good correctional officers are able to identify potential conflicts before they happen by observing the actions of inmates. This question allows the interviewer to learn about each candidate's perception abilities and knowledge of behavior patterns.

Successful answers may include:

  • Awareness of their surroundings
  • Solution-oriented behavior
  • Initiative when responding to warning signs

Strong responses will include a detailed, action-oriented response like this:

Example:

"While working as a drug counselor, I facilitated group sessions and constantly paid attention to the dynamic between group members. I noticed one of the participants became withdrawn whenever a new group member spoke. I took action to speak with her privately and learned that she was concerned about her sobriety because the new member had encouraged her drug use in the past. I was able to adjust group counseling times to separate the two and prevent them from enabling one another."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021