Passing the Magistrate Interview

You will be required to undertake two interviews during the selection process for becoming a criminal justice magistrate. Whilst both interviews have some similarities, they differ in terms of how you need to perform on the day.

Magistrate Interview Questions and Answers Download
Download now

The Magistrate First Interview

During the first interview you will be asked a number of standard questions by the panel who are more commonly known as the Local Advisory Committee. Being invited to the first interview will usually happen as a matter of course, providing that is, you meet the minimum eligibility requirements for the role. It is important that you ensure you meet the minimum requirements by reading the guidance notes that accompany the application pack for becoming a magistrate.

The last thing you want to do is turn up to the first interview only to find that you are not eligible for some reason or another. During the first interview you will be asked questions around your ability to commit to the role and also whether your character is suitable for the position you have applied for. Being a magistrate is a highly responsible role and the Local Advisory Committee will want to see that you are fit to serve. Again, make sure you read the guidance notes that come with the magistrate application form. When preparing for the magistrate first interview you should start off by reading and absorbing the six key qualities for the role.

In the following video Richard McMunn explains how our interview and answers resource will help you to prepare for and more importantly pass the interview first time:

Six Key Qualities?

1. Good Character
  • Your personal integrity
  • Having respect and trust of others (you will be working closely with other magistrates)
  • Respect for confidences – very important as a magistrate
  • There are no matters which might bring them or the magistracy into disrepute
  • Willingness to be circumspect in private, working and public life.
2. Understanding and Communication
  • Ability to understand documents (as a magistrate you will have to work with documents such as the sentencing guidelines
  • Identify and comprehend relevant facts
  • Follow evidence and arguments
  • Have an ability to concentrate on cases for prolonged periods
  • Be able to communicate effectively with a manner of different people.
3. Social Awareness
  • Appreciation and acceptance of the Rule of Law (this is the fundamental principle that no one is above the law and that everyone is subject to it in equal measure)
  • Understanding of society in general
  • Respect for people from different ethnic, cultural or social backgrounds (and maybe some knowledge of ‘other communities’)
  • Awareness and understanding of life beyond family, friends and work is highly desirable
  • As is an understanding of your local community.
4. Maturity and Sound Temperament
  • Ability to relate to and work with others (as a magistrate you will work with many different people, including court clerks, legal advisor’s, other magistrates, solicitors etc.)
  • Have respect and regard for the views of other people
  • Willingness to consider advice (magistrates are required to consider advice, especially in relation to legal matters)
  • Humanity, firmness, decisiveness, confidence, a sense of fairness, courtesy.
5. Sound Judgement
  • Ability to think logically, weigh arguments and reach a balanced decision
  • Openness of mind, objectivity, the recognition of and controlling of prejudices.
6. Commitment and Reliability
  • Reliability, commitment to serve the community, willingness to undertake at least 26 half day sittings a year (but possibly more in practice)
  • Willingness to undertake the required training ( as a magistrate you will undertake initial training to learn about the role and your responsibilities)
  • Ability to offer the requisite time • Support of family and employer (it is important that your employer, if applicable) supports you with regards to time off for duties
  • Sufficiently good health.

Learn more about the Magistrate first interview in the video below, including how to prepare for and pass this stage of the recruitment process:


Once you have learnt the magistrate key qualities you will then be able to prepare for the interview questions. Here are a number of questions that we recommend you prepare for:

Q. Why do you want to become a magistrate?

Q. There are plenty of other volunteer roles in society, why choose the role of a magistrate over the others?

Q. Are you able to commit to the required number of sittings as a magistrate and also the initial training?

Q. Tell us about your character? Is it suitable for becoming a magistrate?

Q. What does your family and employer think about you wanting to become a magistrate?

Q. What do you understand about the role of a magistrate?

This download guide will provide you with a host of further sample interview questions with tips and advice on how to answer them.

The Magistrate Second Interview

The first exercise which forms part of the magistrate second interview will give you approximately ten scenarios. It will be your task to rank them in order of severity. There are no right or wrong answers to these; however, it is important that you are able to explain why you have chosen the order of priority and also be able to listen to suggestions for ranking them in perhaps an alternative order.

Remember, as a magistrate you will be required to listen to, and work with, other people including magistrates whom perhaps have more experience than you.


  • You will be asked to explain what you took into account in each scenario and why you ranked them in the way you did.
  • You may be asked to comment on an opposing view of the ranking order.
  • You need to show that you are prepared to listen to, and consider fairly, any contrary views the panel may put to you (do not feel devalued or overly defensive in your ranking as they may be taking a contrary view solely for the sake of the exercise).
  • You will need to reflect that there may be legal or guideline aggravating or mitigating factors. You will learn more about these once you become a magistrate and begin to read the sentencing guidelines.
  • You should specifically consider the harm done or likely to be done by an offence and the level of the offender’s culpability.


  • Assault on a police constable
  • Possession of drugs
  • Possession of indecent pictures of children
  • Domestic violence (by either partner)
  • Theft
  • Burglary

The second exercise, which forms part of the magistrate second interview, will be a more in-depth case that is usually based on sentencing practice. You do not need any knowledge of sentencing aims or practices and, again, there is no real ‘right or wrong’ answer.

In order to prepare for this element of the magistrate selection process you might want to be aware that there are the following four broad ascending levels of sentencing, each of which has its own sort of ‘threshold’ test:

  • Absolute or conditional discharge (i.e. re the latter, broadly no penalty unless there is reoffending)
  • Fine (based on both the seriousness of the offence and the offender’s financial circumstances and up to £5,000 in more serious cases in the magistrates’ court)
  • Community order (e.g. supervision by a probation officer, curfew order, undertaking a rehabilitative programme: this is now a generic order within which there can be various components of this kind)
  • Imprisonment (aka ‘custody’) (which can be suspended if appropriate).

Sometimes more than one sentence can be used at the same time but you will not be expected to know the ins-and-outs of this. The exercise will again test how you approach the problem.

What is important here are matters such as:

  • How you deal with the overall decision-making process.
  • What issues you identify as relevant.
  • What you might be trying to achieve in sentencing.
Magistrate Interview Questions and Answers Download
Download now
  • Essential tips and advice on how to pass both sets of magistrate interviews.
  • How to successfully prepare for the first magistrate interview.
  • Sample interview questions including case study and ranking exercises.
  • Important facts to consider when preparing for the interviews.
  • What you need to know before you apply to become a magistrate.
  • Matching the six key qualities at the first and second interviews.
  • The essential qualities and attributes that are required to perform the role competently.
  • Sample magistrate first interview questions with tips on how to respond.
  • Detailed information and advice about the second magistrate interview.
  • The top tips and advice brought to you from serving magistrates.
  • Sample magistrate ranking exercises.
  • How to approach the case studies that form part of the magistrate second interview.
  • What the Local Advisory Committee are looking for and how to respond.


When you order you will receive the following free bonus;

Magistrate Online Interview Training Course Free Access

Plus 30-days FREE ACCESS to our online magistrate interview video training suite. This will teach you how to pass the first magistrate interview! After the 30-day free trial is over the service is automatically charged at just £5.95 plus vat per month with no minimum term.