The interview is usually the first opportunity An Garda Siochana has to meet you. Therefore, you want to make a good impression. Your goal is to convince them that you possess the qualities of a good Garda.
Before you even enter the interview room, there are several things you will want to consider in preparation for the interview.
Preparing For The Interview
When applying for AGS there are several forms you have to complete. The application form must be submitted first – essentially this is your CV. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of putting time and effort into populating this form – fill out each section and ensure it is spell checked before you submit it. Form B (Vetting & Referees) will be collected the day of the interview. Prior to the interview make sure you have accurately completed all of the paperwork.
The Panel will be reviewing the information you have listed in your Application Form. If there are uncompleted portions or you are missing certain forms, this may be interpreted as a poor reflection on you. It may also disqualify you from proceeding any further in the application process. Remember, the forms you have completed are a reflection of you. It gives the interviewers a little insight into your organisational and communication abilities.
In the weeks prior to the interview you should carefully review the 5 competencies and start matching your experience and accomplishments against the requirements of each. You do not want to go into the interview winging it. Everyone has a certain degree of nervousness when sitting in front of an interview panel. You want to look your best and sound your best. Avoid becoming tongue-tied by rehearsing your answers. Do a mock interview with a family member or a friend.
Looking Your Best
It is a given that most interviewers will expect a man to wear a suit and tie, and a woman to wear business attire to the interview.
You may look good wearing nice casual slacks, but you will look even better to the Panel if you wear business attire. You want to project a professional image. As you enter the interviewing room, greet everyone with a firm handshake. Look them in the eyes and smile as you greet them. Remember, you are applying for a law enforcement position. This is a field in which you have to deal with people. You want to show the panel that you are a confident person. Giving someone a weak handshake while looking away is a signal that this occupation is not for you.
The Interview itself
Your interview will be approximately 45 minutes in length. You will be questioned by a panel of three people. They will be seated on one side of a table. On the other side of the table will be your chair. In most cases, your chair will be approximately six to ten feet away from the table. In this set up, the interviewers want you to sit a short distance away from them. This allows them to see your entire body and observe your mannerisms.
You should answer all of the questions truthfully. If you pass the interview, they will conduct a background investigation. If during their investigation, they discover that you were less than truthful about the smallest of things, you will be disqualified. You are applying for a position in which you have to uphold the law. Therefore, they are looking for integrity.
Most people are a little nervous during a job interview. This is a normal response. To help you relax, pause before answering a question. Take just a brief moment to think about your answer before responding. Also take a sip of water and use this time to reflect on the question. This will help you to collect your thoughts.
As you answer the questions, speak clearly and loudly. Oral communication is very important in law enforcement. One moment you may be chatting with the public, and the next moment you may be giving forceful verbal commands to a suspect. The panel is assessing your ability to communicate by what you say and how you say it. Speaking in a low tone of voice is not what they want to hear. Meek and mild are not the traits of a good Garda. You only get one chance to make a first impression. So, make a good one.
The panel will be writing throughout the interview. Do not let this bother you. Just because they are writing something down does not mean it is a negative comment. They may be noting your good qualities. They may simply be going through a checklist. You should be more concerned if they do not take any notes. Be prepared for a fourth person in the room – a note taker will be present too – he/she will not ask you any questions.
The Interview Panel should not ask you any questions concerning the law or their specific policies and procedures. You will be taught all of that at Templemore. They will usually begin the interview by verifying the information you provided to them in your Application Form – they will quickly review your academic, work and voluntary achievements. . They will then begin to probe into the competencies in great detail. Lastly, they will ask you some hypothetical or situational questions to judge your reasoning abilities and understanding of the Garda Trainee role.
Noel McLoughlin is a retired Garda Superintendent. He is the Managing Director of GardaIP, the market leader in Interview Preparation for a career in An Garda Siochana