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Some criminal justice interview questions will come up more frequently than others. To help you land your ideal job, we’ve asked Sanctuary Criminal Justice’s Dan Allard and Ed Stevens for their advice on how to successfully answer a few of the most commonly asked interview questions.  

1. Can you tell me about yourself? 

Dan: “This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions in any interview. The trick is to treat it as an opportunity to talk openly about your skills and experience and how you are suitable for the role. 

Ed: “Always look to personalise your answer. Interviewers will be familiar with what would be considered typical traits; that you work well in a team and take an adaptable approach, for example. What they wouldn’t have heard before are your own examples that evidence that you possess these skills.”

2. What is happening in the criminal justice sector that could affect your work? 

Dan: “It’s important to remember that the employer is not looking for you to have in-depth knowledge, unless they’ve specifically asked you to talk about a particular act or policy. What they want to hear is that you are aware of the policies, changes and issues of direct relevance to your line of work. Try to keep it factual rather than opinionated though.”

Ed: “If you are applying for a role at a privately owned company, for example a community rehabilitation company, you might want to familiarise yourself with its aims and objectives and how these are aligned with national policies.”

3. How do you know that the services you provide make a difference to the recipient?

Dan: “Regardless as to whether you work in offender healthcare, youth offending or probation, services are becoming increasingly measured on results and during interview an employer is looking to see how you measure your effectiveness. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of monitoring and evaluation.”

Ed:  “From a broader point of view, you could also link how you monitor and evaluate your work with the overall business plan of the organisation, which for CRCs, prisons and YOTs are readily accessible online.”

4. How do you manage your caseload? 

Ed: “Your employer will be keen not just to hear about how you manage various cases but what models of practice and methodology you use and your reasoning behind this. At this stage you can also talk about your understanding of the legal requirements of the role and how you ensure you are always meeting the needs of the offenders you work with.”

7. What motivates you to work in criminal justice? 

Dan: “On the face of it, this question sounds like a straightforward one to answer. It is, but it needs to be approached from the right angle. You’ll want to avoid talking about what motivates you from a personal point of view to talking more about the impact you have on others.”

5. What is your experience of working in a multi-agency environment? 

Dan:“Many of the roles we recruit candidates into involve working with professionals from other organisations, including those outside the criminal justice arena. Be ready with at least two or three examples of how you have worked directly with others to secure positive outcomes for offenders. Showing ingenuity and creativity in your thinking will help you stand out.”

6. What do you know about us as an organisation? 

Ed: “If you’ve done a little bit of background research on the employer, this question provides you with a great opportunity to reveal this. Showing that you’ve taken the time to research local reoffending rates and available services speaks volumes to an employer.”

Dan: “You’ll be surprised by how much information is available on the employer’s own website. You can also download local crime statistics and check for relevant media coverage. If they have been piloting a new scheme do mention this and ask them about the initial outcomes of the project.”

To help you prepare for interview, you can also download our interview guide from the careers section of our site.

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