- Prison Officers in 2015 are responsible for supervising offenders in prisons and young offenders’ institutions.
- The daily life of a prison officer is extremely difficult, as they will often have to react quickly and remain calm in high pressured and difficult situations.
- As a prison officer, you will frequently need to deal with angry inmates, and provide logical and calm solutions to disciplinary issues.
- If you think that this sounds like the right job for you, then read on. In this blog, we’ve prepared 4 fantastic prison officer interview questions, that you should expect to encounter.
Prison Officer Interview Questions
During your interview, you will be asked a number of competency based questions. These will focus on your understanding of the core competencies required for the position, and your ability to demonstrate that you have used them in the past. To find out all about what these core competencies are, and more top prison officer interview questions, purchase our fantastic guide on How To Become A Prison Officer.
When responding to prison officer interview questions, the best approach is to use the STAR method. The STAR method is a structured, narrative-based response that lists, in order: the situation, the method you used to resolve it and the resolution of the issue. In the prison officer interview questions, you’ll be asked to give specific examples of something that YOU did. Structuring your response will help the interviewers to understand your role and why your input was so valuable.
Prison Officer Interview Question 1
Give me an example of a time when you have dealt with discrimination in the workplace.
In the prison officer interview questions, the assessors will be looking to establish whether you have previously dealt with any of the situations that you are likely to experience whilst employed as a prison officer. This could include racism, bullying or any form of confrontation. Take a look at the sample response below, for an example of how this could be answered:
‘ Whilst I was working in a customer service role in my previous job, I was serving an elderly man, who was from a foreign background. While I was helping him, a gang of teenagers entered the shop. They started to make racist remarks and comments towards the man. I was extremely offended by their behaviour, and immediately attempted to put a stop to it. I stood between the man and the gang, in order to try and protect him from anymore of their remarks.
I informed the gang that their comments were unacceptable, and then called my manager over for assistance. We called the police, and then asked the gang to leave the shop. I knew that the shops CCTV cameras would have picked up the faces of the gang, and therefore the police would be able to handle it.
Following the incident, I took the elderly gentleman into the back room of the store, made him a cup of tea and waited for the police to arrive. While he did not seem too distressed, I did everything that I could to support him, and let him know that I would be prepared to act as a witness for the incident that had just occurred.’
Prison Officer Interview Question 2
Give me an example of a time when you have calmed an unhappy individual.
As a prison officer, one of the key aspects of your role will be in your ability to calm down unhappy individuals. You will need to communicate and negotiate with prisoners who are angry and stressed about a particular situation. Take a look at the sample response below, for an example of how this could be answered:
‘ When I was working as a sales person in my previous role, an angry customer came into the shop. He was unhappy because he had purchased a pair of running shoes for his daughter’s birthday, but when she unwrapped her present, she noticed that one of the shoes was a size 5 whilst the other was a size 6. Now, on the morning of her birthday, he was having to return to the store.
My immediate reaction was to try and diffuse the customer’s anger. I promised him that I would resolve the situation, and then immediately went and found my manager. I explained the situation to him, and suggested that we should replace the customers purchase with a new pair of trainers, and refund him the full amount as a gesture of goodwill. The manager agreed to this solution, and I returned to the gentleman with my proposal. He was extremely pleased with the offer, and calmed down immediately. After receiving his refund and exchange, he left the shop happy.
I phoned him the next day to check that he was happy, and he informed me that his daughter was pleased. Finally, he told me that, despite the initial bad service, he would continue to use our shop in the future.’
Prison Officer Interview Question 3
Give me an example of when you have worked as part of a team, in order to resolve a situation.
As a prison officer, you’ll be working as part of a wider prison team to ensure that inmates are kept in check. Therefore, you will often experience occasions where you’ll have to work together with other guards and prison officers, to resolve issues. Take a look at the sample response below, for an example of how this could be answered:
‘I recently volunteered to work with a new member of our team at work. The task required us to successfully complete a stock-take of the entire warehouse within a short timeframe. The reason why I volunteered for the task is because I am a conscientious person who enjoys working with other people, and carrying out tasks to a high standard. Initially I showed the new team member how to stock-take in a professional manner in accordance with company guidelines. He had never carried out this type of work before and I wanted to ensure he was comfortable with the task, and that he was doing it correctly.
Once I had achieved this we both then set about methodically working through each aisle, stocktaking as we went along. Periodically we would stop to ensure that the task was being done correctly. At the end of the specified timeframe we had completed the stock-take and were able to provide accurate figures to our line manager. Whilst working as a team member I always concentrate on effective communication, focusing on the task at hand and providing support to team members who require assistance.’
Prison Officer Interview Question 4
Give me an example of a time when you have worked with a younger individual, to resolve behavioural problems.
Prison officers do not just work in jails, but in young offenders’ institutes too. This means that experience with younger people is essential the role. You need to be aware of the emotional challenges that working with young offenders presents to a prison officer, and how to deal with younger people in a sensitive and respectful manner. Take a look at the sample response below, for an example of how this could be answered:
‘When I was working in the student service team at my local primary school, a boy was brought into the office who had been misbehaving. The boy in question was very well known to the services team, as he had a history of truanting and skipping lessons. I interviewed him on a one to one basis, to try and get to the bottom of his behaviour.
Upon discussion of his home life, it became apparent that his Father had recently re-married. While he would not openly discuss this issue, he was extremely negative whenever he referred to his new step-mother. While he did not directly admit it, I decided that it was an avenue worth pursuing. We rang the boy’s father, who came into the school and discussed the problems with his son. Steps were taken to improve the relationship between the child and his step-mother, and since then he has been behaving much better at school.’
If you are interested in a career in criminal justice, or more prison officer interview question advice, you can visit the NOMS website.