Before being hired by a sheriff’s department, candidates must complete a series of interview questions to demonstrate previous experience, strong work ethic and understanding of the demands of law enforcement. Reviewing potential interview questions before the oral screening component can help your responses sound more reflective and practiced. Because sheriffs represent the public in court and on the roads, departments want to hire candidates who are poised and articulate.
Because law enforcement officials are often portrayed in popular media, such as movies and TV shows, potential sheriffs might be asked to describe their understanding of the job in the real world. If you’re asked to describe your perception of the role of sheriffs in the community, steer clear of cops-and-robbers excitement and focus on the responsibility of upholding the law and enforcing public safety. Talk about the importance of preserving the peace, recovering stolen property and preventing crime.
Because law enforcement involves a certain amount of danger, sheriffs and police officers can develop a strong camaraderie. When asked about previous experience or your work history, avoid making disparaging comments about former department chiefs or supervisors. Even if your previous department head was a difficult supervisor, focus on her positive attributes such as motivation, no-nonsense attitude or ability to create a challenging work environment. When you say negative things about prior employers, new bosses assume that you will continue this bad habit. Since sheriff’s department employees sometimes communicate with the media or general public, the department might decide that your presence will present a risk.
Sheriffs must work reflectively, evaluating their own biases and prejudices in order to prevent them from influencing their decisions on the job. Some interview questions might focus on what prejudices you hold, or what types of people or behavior you find problematic. Be careful with this question; denying that you have never held a prejudice or conflict with another individual will signal dishonesty. Choose a situation where your mistaken prejudice allowed you to grow professionally and personally.
Individuals who work in sheriff’s departments frequently face stressful situations, and sometimes violence. Interview questions might ask you to think about your ability to manage stress, anger or fear. You might be asked about the potential of having to take someone’s life in order to preserve public safety or whether you have patterns of alcohol abuse present in your life. Related questions might ask about how you handle interpersonal conflict or crisis.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.