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Get ready for your probation officer interview

By Gemma Raw

​If you’re a regular reader of our blog pages, then you’ll know that we’re always here to offer you practical support and guidance on how to achieve your perfect probation job role. Regardless of whether it’s your first major job interview or you see interviews as merely an occupational hazard of working as a locum probation officer, job interviews can be nerve-wracking. Not only are they the first opportunity for a potential employer to meet you, but it’s an opportunity for you to really sell yourself to a hiring manager. To ease your nerves ahead of your next job interview, we’re sharing some insights into what preparation you can do. 

Speak to your Sanctuary Consultant

If you've applied for one of our many probation roles, the best thing you can do is to speak directly with one of Sanctuary’s dedicated recruitment consultants. Not only will the consultant be able to explain to you exactly what the hiring organisation is looking for, but they’ll be able to work with you to identify your key strengths in relation to the job advert. Your consultant will also be on hand to answer any questions that you may have or ease your nerves before you walk into the interview room. 

Do your research

As soon as you are selected for an interview, it’s wise to start researching the company. You will need to be clear about who they are and what they stand for. Your background research will help you answer any questions that you may be asked. As well as looking on the organisation’s website, look at their social media pages and see what they are saying. You may find that they are running some specific projects; in which case, you may want to find out as much information as you can. 

This research isn’t just about being able to answer their questions, it’s also about creating a list of questions that you can ask them. It’s always important to remember that interviews are an opportunity for potential employers to sell themselves to you, as much as it is the other way around. Hiring managers will be impressed if you have a list of questions to ask them – just make sure that they haven’t already been answered during any other points of the interview! 

Prepare your answers in advance

One of the biggest fears surrounding interviews is the ‘fear of the unknown’. Often, we tend to become nervous because we’re not adequately prepared or unsure of what we will be asked. As part of your pre-interview preparation, try to think of what the hiring managers could ask you. Common interview questions for probation job roles include: “Can you provide examples of situations which have demonstrated your ability to work well with others?”, “How do you ensure your personal feelings and views don’t affect your professional judgment when working with serious crime offenders? or “What attributes can you bring to the role?” 

When answering each question, you’ll need to be able to talk in detail whilst simultaneously remaining as concise as possible (we never said interviews were easy!). Try to think in advance about why you are such a strong match for the job, and where possible, try to reference to terminology that has been specified in the job description. If you know the job advert like the back of your hand, you’ll find it easier to verbalise your answers in reference to what the hiring managers are looking for. 

Additionally, you can typically expect to be asked several scenario-based questions, so it’s beneficial to think in advance of some situations which you can discuss at length. Try to share the strengths of these circumstances but also think about what you learned from each one, and how you would improve your work in the future. 

Practice makes perfect

If possible, try to practice answering mock-interview questions. You may feel a little silly, but we promise, it will give you much more confidence during the interview itself. You could ask a friend or family member to act the role of the interviewer, or you could simply film yourself answering questions using your phone. If you are repeatedly stumbling over the same words, take a deep breath and start again. A top tip which is hugely beneficial is to always take a long pause before you answer any questions. Simply taking a second or two and making a concentrated effort to slow your speech down will give you much longer to think about what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Hopefully, you’re now feeling much more confident ahead of your next probation job interview!

We have written a series of blogs around starting and navigating your probation career. There are also a number of useful resources on our careers hub.