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Tagged In:  Career Advice

There are plenty of tips available for criminal justice job interviews, from being aware of your body language to preparing answers to common questions. However, one of the most important pieces of advice you're likely to get from any recruitment expert is to do your research.

It's a good strategy whatever branch of the criminal justice system you work in – prison nurse, mental health nurse, probation officer or substance misuse worker. Do some information gathering in advance of a job interview and you'll get some useful insights about your prospective employer. It will also help you field any tricky questions about professional practice.

We've put together five top tips for pre-interview investigation...

1. Google the organisation

The Internet has made it easy to get a wealth of information about a prospective employer, including their ethos, culture and structure. As well as the official website, a quick online search will bring up policy documents, news items, presentations, reports and more. If you're a probation officer who will be working with youth offenders, maybe you should check out the local authority's safeguarding policy? If the job is for a substance misuse worker, it's worth extending your search to include any independent service providers or charities you will be working with.

2. Match your skills and experience to the job spec

Go back over the job description and personal specification. What skills, experience or personal qualities make you a good fit for the role? If the job is prison nurse, can you demonstrate practical experience in suicide and self-harm risk management, for example the Assessment, Care in Custody, and Teamwork (ACCT) system? If it's a mental health nurse role in a secure unit, have you had training in prevention management of violence and aggression (PMVA)?

3. Show professionalism

Be ready to prove you're conversant with the latest policies and quality standards set out by the NHS, the Prison Service or the National Probation Service (or relevant Community Rehabilitation Company).  As a prison nurse or mental health nurse, you may be asked to refer to the values of the NHS Constitution in relation to your work or the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code.  If you're a probation officer, it's worth familiarising yourself with documents such as the Probation Institute Code of Ethics, even if you have been working as a probation officer for many years.

4. Research key staff members

Why not Google the interview panel or senior staff you would be working with? You may be able to find out more about a senior manager, such as a prison nurse or probation officer, through business networking sites such as LinkedIn, online biographies or news releases.

5. Plan your route

Make sure you know the exact interview location, how to get there and the journey time. You should arrive in good time so you don't feel rushed or stressed.

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