How to Answer “Why Do You Want To Be a Police Officer?”

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 14, 2022

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Becoming a police officer requires taking various tests and completing several background checks. One of the most important parts of the recruitment process is the interview session, where you answer questions about your motivation and background. Understanding how to answer, "Why do you want to be a police officer?" in an interview can help increase your chances of success when you apply for jobs in this field. In this article, we discuss why employers ask why you want to be a police officer, explore how to answer the question, and provide examples of answers that you can use.

Reasons employers ask, "Why do you want to be a police officer?"

Here are some common reasons employers ask, "Why do you want to be a police officer?":

To evaluate your understanding of the role

Employers can ask why you want to become a police officer to test your understanding of a police officer's role. When answering this question, refer to activities within a police officer's scope of duties. For example, when you say you want to be a police officer to help people, mention the duties of a police officer that help you do that. Some employers also ask this question to test your understanding of social issues and creatively link solving them to your role as a police officer.

Related: HR Interview Questions: Preparing for Your Interview

To assess your values

When answering why you want to be a police officer, you often discuss what's important to you. Your motivation to join the force likely relates to a value you consider important. This can be community service, protecting people, or maintaining law and order. By asking this question, employers can gain insight into your most important values. This is important to determine if you fit into the police department's corporate culture. Hiring managers often prefer candidates whose values align with the department's values.

Related: What Are Life Values? (With Characteristics and Examples)

To test your confidence

If you've already impressed the hiring manager, they may ask why you want to be a police officer to test your confidence. Employers want to ensure they're hiring articulate and composed people. This is especially important for police work, as those skills are relevant to the role. To convince your employer that you're confident, answer the question calmly and clearly. Also, maintain a friendly tone and reasonable eye contact. Another great way to show confidence is by including humour in your answer. Ensure any joke you use is appropriate and avoid it if you're unsure.

Related: Understanding the Steps of the Interview Process

To ensure you are passionate

Employers may ask why you want to be a police officer to see if you're passionate about the role. Passion is important to employers, as it determines dedication to work and employee loyalty. Passionate candidates are more likely to give genuine reasons and offer detailed explanations about their motivation. Employers are more likely to believe you when they can detect the enthusiasm in your answer. To communicate that you're passionate, give a reason that's personal to you. Linking your motivation to your background or career goals is a great way to convince a hiring manager of your passion and suitability for the role.

To know you personally

Employers can also ask why you want to be a police officer to discover more personal details about you. By asking about your motivation, the employer hopes to discover a genuine reason that relates to the type of person you are. It is not a requirement to disclose personal information, but giving a personal answer can help you connect with the employer. For example, discuss what parts of society are most important to you or a childhood experience that made you decide on this career path. Ensure your answer is sincere to avoid complications.

Related: How To Become a Police Officer (With Salary and Skills)

How to answer, "Why do you want to be a police officer?"

Here are some steps to follow when describing why you want to be a police officer in an interview:

1. Research the police department

Finding relevant information on the police department you're applying to can help make your answer more effective. Researching the department helps you align your answer to it and connect with the employer. Search the police department online, review their website, read their value statements, and note the social issues they address. Incorporating these details into your answer can help you make a great impression.

Related: 46 Typical Police Interview Questions

2. Reflect on your values

While you want to impress the employer, you also want to stay true to yourself. Discussing a value you're passionate about can help make your answer more genuine and convincing. After researching the police department, list what you think their values are and their important issues. Select the top items that appear on both lists. To find your values, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I think about the most?

  • Do I have personal experiences with any social issues?

  • What events inspire the strongest emotions in me?

  • Are there any issues that affect my daily life?

  • What part of my duties do I look forward to the most?

3. Plan your approach

There are a few approaches you can choose from to express why you want to be a police officer. Regardless of the approach you choose, ensure your answer is genuine. For example, you can choose to talk about a personal experience or a social issue that concerns you. Planning your approach can help with confidence and composure. Here are a few popular methods:

Story

A story is a great way to make your reason more understood by the hiring manager. By describing a situation to them that they can imagine, they're more likely to relate to your answer. Stories also allow you to incorporate your skills or relevant experiences into your answer. For example, you can tell a story about an experience you had to resolve, a situation you observed, or a story you heard that affected you personally.

Personal details

Personal details are a great way to connect with the employer emotionally. Discussing personal details that motivated you can be a great way to demonstrate your values. For example, you can choose to discuss a childhood experience, family member, or strong emotion that led you to become a police officer.

Related: 11 Common Police Officer Skills (And How to Improve Them)

Relevant statistics

This is a great approach if your motivation is due to an interest in a social issue. Beginning your answer with a relevant statistic demonstrates that you're thorough and have good research skills. You can choose an uncommon statistic to impress the employer. Describe its impact on you when you found out and how it motivated you to become a police officer.

4. Discuss your motivation

After discussing the reason, it's important you highlight how and why it motivated you to become a police officer. For example, if your reason is that your grandparent was in the police, discuss why that inspired you to join the police. This can be because of your relationship with your grandparent or the type of person they were. If your answer relates to a social issue, then discuss the role you intend to play in the solution. This can be a great way to demonstrate your understanding of your duties.

5. Rehearse for the interview

Rehearsing for the interview can help with your confidence and articulation. It can also help you identify errors and correct them. After preparing potential answers, you can request help from family or friends. Practise your answers and ask them which they found most convincing. When rehearsing, pay attention to your body language and gestures, as they're equally important. Ask your friends to rate your performance and correct any errors you made. If you are unable to reach any family or friends, you can rehearse alone using a mirror.

Related: Interview Preparation Tips

Examples explaining why you want to be a police officer

Here are some examples of answers you can use when describing why you want to be a police officer:

Example explaining that you want to help

Here is an example answer where your motivation is to help people in need:

"I remember I had to walk to school by myself as a kid because it wasn't very far from my home. One day, I noticed someone following me. I eventually started running and they chased me until I found a police officer. The officer picked me up and tried to find the person, but they had disappeared. I felt safe with the police officer and I decided I want to make others feel safe. After that day, becoming a police officer has been my dream."

Example explaining that policing is in your family

Here is an example answer where your motivation is to follow a family tradition:

"When I was younger, my grandfather was my hero. Everyone always talked about how brave and honest he was, and the best part of my Sundays was watching him iron his uniform. He always described his police department as family, and I always knew I wanted to be a part of that family. After he died, I decided I wanted to follow his path."

Example explaining that you want to address crime

Here is an example answer where your motivation is to fight crime:

"I grew up with firsthand experience of juvenile delinquency. Yet, finding out that one in three teenagers does hard drugs was shocking to me. I want to become a police officer to help fight this reality."

Now that you know how to answer, "Why do you want to be a police officer?", you can better prepare for this question when being interviewed for a police officer role.

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