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Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

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Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

wa98059
First and foremost, this is an awesome forum.  Thanks Steve!  I've been peeking at it ever since it went online.  

Does anyone have any advice for an upcoming interview for a CST position in Tacoma, WA?  Any tips, hints, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

Steve Staggs
Administrator

From my experience as both a candidate and as an interviewer I have three main things I think you should do to have a successful interview.

Undoubtedly there will be many individuals who will be interviewed for the job. What you need to do is be memorable. After the interview panel has completed all their interviews and begin to decide on whom to hire, they need to remember who you were. You make yourself memorable by standing out in your interview.

Here is how you can stand out:

  • Be prepared to answer the question: "What do you know about us?" Learn everything you can about the community and the department you are applying to. Read everything on their webpages. Google search the local newspapers for stories about the department, the types of crime they investigate, and any controversy in the community about the department or their delivery of service. Call the CSI Unit and tell them you are about to be interviewed for the position and ask to talk to someone in the Unit. Find out all you can about the Unit including how many work there, what their duties are, what types of crime scenes they process most, and what issues they are dealing with. Ask a supervisor if you can do a "ride along" to see the unit. Be prepared to tell the interview panel all about the community, the department, the challenges it faces, all about the CSI Unit, what types of crime scenes they process, and tell them that you talked to people in the unit and did a ride along. By doing this the interview panel will know you did your homework by investigating the department and unit. They will know you want the job after checking them out thoroughly.

  • Show them what you can do. Have you taken classes in crime scene photography and evidence collection? Take a couple of fingerprint lift cards you have done (your best work) and one or two photographs (a close-up photo of evidence and a painting-with-light photo). When they ask something like "What have you done to prepare yourself for this job?" show them the lift cards and photographs. Explain what they are ("this is a black powdered latent lifted from a coffee mug, this is a painting-with-light photograph, the painting-with-light technique works especially well for documenting large crime scenes at night"). They will see that you have a basic knowledge about the job and that you will be able to do the job. This is also something that probably none of the other candidates will do so it helps you to stand out.

  • Always have something to say in closing. They will usually ask one last question during the interview: "Do you have any questions for us, or is there anything you wanted to tell us?" Never say "No." This is where you should tell them you want the job. Sure, you and all the other candidates want the job, but tell them that you have researched the community, the department and the CSI Unit, and that you really want to work for them. Tell them you feel that you can be an effective member of the team.

Of course there are all the other normal things about interviews: Sit up straight, look directly at the person asking the question, speak clearly, dress conservatively, cover any tattoos, no excessive jewelry (especially nose rings, tongue studs, etc.). Leather pants, high heel shoes, low-cut tops and wild hair might look good on TV, but most departments want normal looking people to represent them in the community.

Congratulations on getting the interview! Best wishes on your interview.

Webmaster
Crime Scene Investigator Network
http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net
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Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

Boyd Baumgartner
In reply to this post by wa98059
Congratulations, generally speaking, this involves a Supervisor of the unit, a peer (to the position for which you are applying), someone from a different agency, and a Human Resources rep that monitors the process for compliance with standards, laws, etc.

This is the opportunity to sell yourselves and can arguably be thought of as the most important part of the hiring process. As a general format, this involves a series of about 12 scripted questions that either fall into a "what do you know about (topic X)" or "Tell us about your thoughts on (topic X)" or "Tell us about a time when you..."

The strategy here is they want to see how knowlegable you are about the position or how you deal with stress and conflict. Be prepared with examples from your life experience or from previous work situations.

First things first: Dress professionally! If you don't own a suit, buy one. You'll use it later anyway when you testify in court, because once you get the job, you'll end up in court, guaranteed. Secondly, eye contact, handshakes and confidence go a long way. Lastly, be yourself, after all it's you they'll be interested in. Personality is definitely a consideration in the hiring process. "How will this person fit in with the office" is a question every employer considers.

If you're human, then you're going to be nervous. It's ok! Find your balance, as you don't want to be too short, concise and robot like nor do you want to be rambling. These interviews are usually scored on a matrix that includes your use of specific words that are industry specific or keywords like 'conflict resolution' in the answer.

While these interview questions are scripted, not everyone stays on script. Sometimes the interviewers have the latitude to follow up their questions depending on your answer. If you encounter the interview that asks you to take a stand on a topic like office gossip and the person asks a followup question, stand firm in your answer.

Depending on the combined score of your written and oral interview you'll be given a final ranking and this signifies what order your application will be given consideration when beginning the background portion of the hiring process.

Good luck.  I work in Seattle and we hire frequently for our AFIS unit, if you want to know more , email me at boyd.baumgartner@gmail.com
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Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

wa98059
In reply to this post by Steve Staggs
Thanks Steve! 
These are wonderful and great tips.  I truly appreciate your wisdom and experience.  I'll start researching and preparing.  Thanks again!
<[hidden email]> wrote:
From: Steve Staggs (via Nabble) <[hidden email]>
Subject: Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician
To: "wa98059" <[hidden email]>
Date: Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 10:06 AM

From my experience as both a candidate and as an interviewer I have three main things I think you should do to have a successful interview.

Undoubtedly there will be many individuals who will be interviewed for the job. What you need to do is be memorable. After the interview panel has completed all their interviews and begin to decide on whom to hire, they need to remember who you were. You make yourself memorable by standing out in your interview.

Here is how you can stand out:

  • Be prepared to answer the question: "What do you know about us?" Learn everything you can about the community and the department you are applying to. Read everything on their webpages. Google search the local newspapers for stories about the department, the types of crime they investigate, and any controversy in the community about the department or their delivery of service. Call the CSI Unit and tell them you are about to be interviewed for the position and ask to talk to someone in the Unit. Find out all you can about the Unit including how many work there, what their duties are, what types of crime scenes they process most, and what issues they are dealing with. Ask a supervisor if you can do a "ride along" to see the unit. Be prepared to tell the interview panel all about the community, the department, the challenges it faces, all about the CSI Unit, what types of crime scenes they process, and tell them that you talked to people in the unit and did a ride along. By doing this the interview panel will know you did your homework by investigating the department and unit. They will know you want the job after checking them out thoroughly.

  • Show them what you can do. Have you taken classes in crime scene photography and evidence collection? Take a couple of fingerprint lift cards you have done (your best work) and one or two photographs (a close-up photo of evidence and a painting-with-light photo). When they ask something like "What have you done to prepare yourself for this job?" show them the lift cards and photographs. Explain what they are ("this is a black powdered latent lifted from a coffee mug, this is a painting-with-light photograph, the painting-with-light technique works especially well for documenting large crime scenes at night"). They will see that you have a basic knowledge about the job and that you will be able to do the job. This is also something that probably none of the other candidates will do so it helps you to stand out.

  • Always have something to say in closing. They will usually ask one last question during the interview: "Do you have any questions for us, or is there anything you wanted to tell us?" Never say "No." This is where you should tell them you want the job. Sure, you and all the other candidates want the job, but tell them that you have researched the community, the department and the CSI Unit, and that you really want to work for them. Tell them you feel that you can be an effective member of the team.

Of course there are all the other normal things about interviews: Sit up straight, look directly at the person asking the question, speak clearly, dress conservatively, cover any tattoos, no excessive jewelry (especially nose rings, tongue studs, etc.). Leather pants, high heel shoes, low-cut tops and wild hair might look good on TV, but most departments want normal looking people to represent them in the community.

Congratulations on getting the interview! Best wishes on your interview.

Webmaster
Crime Scene Investigator Network
http://www.crime-scene-investigator.net



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Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

wa98059
In reply to this post by Boyd Baumgartner
Thanks Boyd!  Your suggestions and tips are greatly appreciated.   And thanks for the email offer.  I also applied for the King County ID tech position so perhaps I'll be emailing you in the future.  Thanks Again!  
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Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

jacob hilbrandt
In reply to this post by Steve Staggs
My email address at school is hilbrandtj@spsd.net

I was going toask you to answer some questions about crime scene Investigation.

1. how hard can this job be?

2.how dangerous do you think that the job can get?

3. did you start off as a regular police officer before you started to work in the crime lab?

4. what do you usually do when you dont have a crime scene case opened?

5. do you have to stay in one office with evidence until someone comes or can you just take it to another office?

6. does every police station have a crime lab in the whole intire country?

7. how many crime labs are in this state of michigan?

8. could you tell me some of the crime labs names?

9. could you tell me how many hours it takes until you finally catch the person and close the case?

10. how long does it take to clear and clean a crime scene?
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Re: Job Interview for Crime Scene Technician

jantunf
In reply to this post by Steve Staggs
Honestly, I wish I would have read this before I went to my interview over a month ago. They asked me all sorts of questions, about Locard's Exchange Principle, about latent prints, what I would do if I saw another CST improperly handling evidence, etc. It was not at all what I expected, as I was thinking they might ask me a little bit about my work history before, but they did not even seem to care. I suppose that's the difference between a common job and an actual career.

All said, I didn't get the job but I walked away with the wisdom of what NOT to say the next time around, if there is a next time.

My question is, do you think that after they choose not to hire you, that they could hire you in the future? Or is it that one time, that you did not do so well, that could taint you for the future? I realize it varies from agency to agency, but I'm thorougly disappointed.
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