Many interview questions will begin with “Give an example of a time you_____? Even when questions do not directly ask you to site an example, it is a good idea to incorporate some life or career experience into your response whenever you can. Doing so gives credibility to your answer and to you. It gives a human element to you as a candidate and for most people it is easier to talk about first hand experiences, which can make your response more authentic and more interesting as well.
2 not-so-common firefighter interview questions You may encounter a question that is very unique and designed to see how well you can think on your feet. You should always be prepared for the unexpected, and sometimes off the wall question. Chances are you will be asked something that you will not be prepared for in every interview. Stop and think these questions through in your head before answering. There is nothing wrong with asking for a little time to think about the question before beginning your response. This goes for any question. Pondering the question gives you a moment to gather yourself and your thoughts.
The ULTIMATE Guide To The Firefighter Interview
What is the most important quality for a firefighter?
A good firefighter possesses many valuable traits, including dedication, cooperation, flexibility, physical fitness, integrity and problem-solving skills. Employers want to know that you prioritize these qualities.
Example: “I believe that a firefighters most important quality is dedication. They should be dedicated to supporting their team, serving the community, taking care of their health and providing the best possible outcomes for every situation.”
Why do you want to work for this fire department?
Firefighters are deeply involved in the community and should know the population theyre serving. Demonstrate that youve researched the department and its service area and provide an answer thats specific to the needs of the community.
Example: “I grew up on the east side of Indianapolis and am familiar with the underserved parts of the community. I look forward to giving back to the area where I was raised by providing public safety and education in the neighborhoods that need it most.”
Who Interview Questions for Firefighters
A question I can almost guarantee you will get at some point during your interview (usually at the beginning) is something like “So, ______, tell us about yourself.”
Pretty obvious what they are asking, but what they really want to know is your background.
Sure, they’ve run a criminal background check to see if you have been arrested and have probably talked to your references, they know the basics.
But, what they really want to know is, in your words, what kind of person you are, what makes you tick, how do you spend your time, what have you achieved, what are you proud of, what outlets do you have for stress, etc.
This is obviously important information for them to know. After all they may be inviting you to be a part of their family. They want to know as much information as they possibly can before they offer you the job.
This is a prime opportunity to tell them your story, your achievements, your beliefs etc. No matter how great your background, experience or resume is it’s important to remain humble.
It’s good to be proud of your accomplishments and experience, but few things are as off-putting as an arrogant person.
As long as your answer includes relevant information to the question being asked you should be on the right track.
As with most of the questions you will encounter during your interview, it is important to keep this brief. Try to keep your answers under a couple of minutes max.
Usually, this is asked at the very beginning of an interview. If that is the case, it is important to take a minute and thank the panel for their time and the opportunity to interview with them.
This will go a long way and shows respect for them, their time and the department.
As for the question, try to keep it brief. As with all the other questions two minutes should be plenty of time to touch on the highlights.
The panel isn’t asking you for your life story, but rather they want to know more about you. As long as your answer is relevant to you it should be fine.
Things you’ll want to focus on are your education, relevant experience for the job and a brief story of what got you from where you were to what brought you in front of the panel.
If you’re a candidate who is relatively young (under 23) talk about what you did in high school.
Any academic accomplishments would be acceptable to talk about, or any kind of outside group or organization that you were a part of.
It would also be good to talk about any sort of related job experience.
These include things like EMS/fire experience are obviously the best but what other skills or experience do you have that could be valuable to firefighting?
A professional firefighter not only operates as a first responder but also has a role as a representative or emissary of the government entity.
Were you on a speech or debate team and are well-spoken?
Have you learned or enjoy auto mechanics?
These and other skills are secondary to the position but will be well thought of by the interviewers.
These questions trip up a lot of candidates, especially when asking about weaknesses.
The most common sticking point I hear is that they don’t want to come off as arrogant talking about their strengths, and they don’t want to come off as incompetent by talking about a weakness.
We’ll start with the weakness, as this is usually more difficult to articulate.
The first thing you need to understand is that everyone has weaknesses. This includes every person you will ever sit in front of on a hiring panel.
A huge mark of maturity is being willing to admit a weakness in a given area.
That being said, there is no need to feel as though you will ruin your chances of getting hired by admitting to a weakness.
However, I would strongly caution and advise every candidate to be careful on exactly what weakness or personal struggle you choose to reveal to an interview panel.
If you have a major character flaw or serious problem, the interview may not be the best time to talk about that.
Now, I’m not encouraging dishonest or bad people to join the fire service, but I would be cautious about admitting to a very personal struggle.
Conversely, what I tell every candidate I speak to is to choose a weakness or flaw that is relatively generic. One that a lot of people generally struggle with, but nobody can really look down on you for it.
For example, in all of my interviews I discussed my struggle with being able to stay organized.
For various reasons, organization has always been a weakness for me, but in past years I have improved greatly.
The ability to be organized is one of those things that a lot of people struggle with, but it isn’t a big enough weakness to be considered a serious character flaw.
After all, can anyone really admit to being perfectly organized in every aspect of their life 24/7? I doubt it!
Finally, when stating your weakness, it is important to always state two things.
First, that you have been working on whatever it is, and have improved, and second you need to state how or what you have done to improve.
Remember, words mean nothing; action is king. (This will be something we discuss a lot on this site, especially when it comes to taking responsibility for past mistakes such as a DUI or others).
Far fewer people have difficulty discussing their strength. This is usually because everyone’s favorite subject is themselves.
This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just human nature.
When discussing a strength, it’s important to not just state what it is, but provide proof of how you have demonstrated that strength.
Both tangible and intangible strengths work well.
For example, if you have a lot of higher-level education or experience you can use that as a strength. Most people would see advanced degrees or knowledge as an asset.
Also, don’t be afraid to talk about intangible strengths as well. Things such as patience, persistence and the ability to work in teams can be a huge strength.
However, you choose to answer don’t forget that your ultimate goal with this interview is to cast yourself in the most positive light as possible.
Firefighting can be a very stressful career. Uncertainty, sickness, lack of sleep, danger, PTSD and a whole host of other issues will be present in every day of your career.
With the advancements in research when it comes to mental health, PTSD, depression and other issues, the management of stress is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in today’s fire service.
If you are asked this, or a question similar to this (What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?) the panel wants to know that you practice healthy habits or have healthy outlets to relieve all of the stress.
These things can include working out, hiking, being outdoors, yoga (yes, yoga!), fishing or really anything you may do that isn’t harmful to yourself or others.
The department doesn’t want to invite trouble, so they want to know your main outlets don’t include things like binge drinking, smoking, compulsive gambling, illegal drugs or anything else that can be considered unhealthy.
In short, the correct answer is, “I ask for help. Admit I don’t know and seek out the answer.”
Firefighting is inherently dangerous, and nothing’s more dangerous than someone pretending to know what they are doing when they don’t.
The panel is looking to find out two things:
This is your time to shine. Sell yourself!
It’s particularly important to exude confidence when answering a question like this. It can be hard because you’re so nervous, but it’s critical that you answer in a way that is convincing.
Referencing your strengths (tangible and intangible), your skills, experience and knowledge all come into play.
Be sure to keep it brief and touch on a few different aspects that you feel make you stand out as a candidate.
There are a few common mistakes I see all the time with prospective candidates.
The first of these is being too wordy. This is especially common with the question “So _______, tell us about yourself.”
It’s tough not to say too much because you want to fit as much in as possible to give them the best picture of who you are.
Remember, keep your answers to around two minutes max.
Make an outline of two or three points you want to touch on and when you practice and speak only to those points. This brings up another important point, practice.
You must practice your answers before going into the interview.
Another common mistake I see with candidates is repeatedly referencing negatives or being self-deprecating with your answers.
I get it, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea of an interview and they may try to downplay their strengths and confidence in an attempt to seem humble.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to exude confidence not only in your words, but in the way, you carry yourself.
Finally, here’s a video that sums up how to approach and answer who questions.
So now it’s your turn. Use this list of practice questions to practice the questions which are marked with a (who).