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What It Takes To Land A Job

What It Takes To Land A Job

Battalion Chief Paul Lepore

Landing a job in the fire service is truly a unique challenge. On average, there are over 100 candidates who apply for each opening. Since the competition is so intense, what does it take to be the top candidate?

Many candidates believe it is important to be the “most qualified” individual in the testing process. The truth is that we are looking for someone who will fit into our family. In short, we have an opening that we need to fill. Since we can choose whomever we want, we want to choose someone we like.

Those candidates who become known to us either before or during the testing process have a better chance of scoring well on the exam.

The best way to become someone who stands out in the hiring process is to understand the role of a firefighter. This can best be accomplished by taking fire science courses at the local junior college or online. Another way to gain knowledge and experience in the fire service is to become a volunteer or reserve firefighter.

These candidates will have made a name for themselves long before the testing process.

Candidates often volunteer for departmental activities. These activities include departmental BBQ’s, CPR training events for the community and any other opportunities that may arise to give a candidate a chance to be visible to the members of the department.

As you are flipping burgers, it is entirely possible that a captain, battalion chief or even the fire chief will stop you and introduce him or herself. This is your opportunity meet influential people on the department. Once the introductions are made, the conversation often steers toward what you are doing. This is your opportunity to explain that it is your goal to become a member of the department.

Most departments have a minimum passing score for the written exam and physical agility tests. This leaves the bulk of the score (oftentimes 100%) for the oral interview. Since we are looking to hire people we like and want to have as part of our family, it is imperative that the oral board knows who you are before you walk in the door.

This may be extremely difficult on a large department since there are just too many people to meet. On a smaller department it is possible to “make the rounds” to all or most of the fire stations before your oral interview. Imagine what an incredible opportunity it would be to take a practice interview with experienced firefighters.

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