By Debbie Gregory.
Law enforcement officers and military veterans have a lot in common: both wear their uniforms with pride; both are a part of a larger team of professionals protecting those who can’t protect themselves; both put their personal safety at risk; and both operate within a rigid command structure. There is a natural path that leads many military veterans to seek jobs in law enforcement when they transition to the civilian workforce.
Some pre-planning can help close the deal after the interview process to secure law enforcement jobs for veterans.
The interview is where you get your sole opportunity to make a good first impression. Preparing your answers to commonly asked interview questions can make or break your chances of getting the law enforcement job you are hoping for.
Why do you want this job? Draw on those similarities between military service and law enforcement: the service to those who can’t protect themselves, the camaraderie, and being part of a team.
What is your biggest weakness? Focus on something that you have worked on to improve. For example, if your tactical driving skills were less than what you were happy with, share some of the details of the advanced driving course you took.
Why should you be hired? Again, call on your military service, stressing that you are a physically and mentally fit candidate. You have good decision-making abilities, common sense, and respect a paramilitary chain of command.
Important don’ts to keep in mind:
- Just like a civilian shouldn’t badmouth a previous boss, you shouldn’t badmouth those you served under. If you had a particularly challenging officer, focus on what you learned from that person.
- If you’re asked to tell your interviewer about who you are, resist the temptation to give a chronology of your adult life. Instead, focus on your life experiences as they pertain to the job.
- When it comes to compensation, don’t give an exact number. You should be familiar with the salary range, and you can say that you expect to be paid the appropriate range for this job, based on the location and your experience.