You could be forgiven for thinking that one interview is much the same as another.Police into private sector - stand out  You want the job on offer, you have submitted your strong, concise and compelling CV which has now secured an interview.

Of course, now you might reflect it is a long time (if ever) since you went along to an interview outside of policing.

Firstly, a police interview, be that for entry or promotion, is very different to interviews in the private sector. You may have always done fairly well in previous interviews, you are personable and certainly bright and able – that obviously means your interview style is fine doesn’t it?

No, not really, because an interview in the private sector can be very different indeed, no need to drive any competencies home here. They are not looking for ‘evidence’ in the way you might have presented it previously.  The proof will come through how to talk on the subject and how it might be applicable to their business model. And you will be under the same scrutiny of understanding required from those who have been in the private sector for years.

Here are a few pointers for anyone going into an interview.   All things being equal your application has put you in the frame as a strong possibility for the position; why would they see you otherwise.  So interview success will be down to your performance, in the mix will be that someone else might just have better skills on the day, but since you cannot influence the latter concentrate on the former.

  • Do your due diligence.  I trust you are applying to a company you like the sound of rather than a company that has a job you could do, and so you must come armed with a knowledge of their ethos and direction.  This is now so easy, particularly on LinkedIn, that to not be prepared is a real negative.  At the very least the panel have all chosen to work for this company and for you to be less than on message and engaged may be interpreted as having no real interest in the company, i.e. you are just looking for a job, any job!
  • Confidence – quiet, calm and clear – is very attractive.  Over compensating confidence is not attractive and the panel may reflect that you may be tricky to work with.  Ensure you demonstrate that you are open to different approaches and thoughts.  Your chance to ask them a question perhaps?
  • From the moment you wake up consider yourself to be ‘on’.  Dress, act and think in your new position – this may feel a little silly but will have an astounding effect.  Remember the panel want to see the person already in the role – be any less and they will hesitate.  There are always stories of missteps including the one, through misunderstanding,  a chap on his way to interview had a negative interaction on a train with someone who turned up an hour later as one of the panel.  No he did not get the job but was fair enough to say he was at fault.
  • When you enter the room remember this is their game.  They hold the power at this moment so please do not stride in and go to shake their hands.  If they offer then, of course, respond warmly but on all points here the lead is theirs.  The only thing that is yours is the chair, and although this might sound odd, move it slightly – a strong but subtle message to all that you are not intimidated and can hold your own.
  • As you sit be aware of your body language.  You will probably get this right at first so try to check it after ten minutes – are you still sitting well and not grasping any part of your body for security (this is a very usual response!).
  • Relax and be yourself.  They want you to do well; it would make their life easier to find a good fit for the position.  There is no point at all in trying to be what you think they want – you may be right but it will not serve you well to be accepted into a role based on a performance that was not genuinely you. If you can work at being as relaxed as possible you also offer yourself the greatest chance of creative and deeper thinking that will inevitably serve you well.
  • Consider that you are interviewing them too.  Are they the sort of people you would be happy working with?  Even thinking in these terms starts to allow our own confidence to come through.

And so I would finish on the strongest piece of advice there is.  Turn up as the best version of yourself.  I know nerves can get the better of us all but anything much less and people will be suspicious and pick up that you seem false. They may not say anything or indeed really know what is wrong but there will be something that they cannot quite put their finger on that may stop them offering you the position.  They will never know that the reason you seemed false was just that you were feeling self conscious and awkward,

Needless to say,  this is a brief look at interview skills, but hopefully offers some food for thought.   If you could use more detailed support do, of course, get in touch. If you are going to interviews but never getting the role perhaps you could do with some impartial support.

Good luck




Angela Hackett

Director Police into Private Sector

01737 831700