Preparing for Firefighter Candidate Interviews
Battalion Chief Paul Lepore
The fire department interview is a unique challenge that is a component of the hiring process for most fire departments. As a general rule, the interview is usually weighed more than any other portion of the exam. It is not uncommon to have each of the other phases of the exam weighted “pass or fail,” while the interview is weighted 100% of the candidate’s overall score. Simply stated, the interview is the most important phase of the exam process.
Many of the questions put a candidate in a “no win” situation. They are designed to see how the individual can think on his or her feet. While there are often no clear-cut right answers, there are usually automatic fail points.
The best way to learn how to succeed in the interview is to educate yourself on the process. The more you learn about the types of questions that are commonly asked, the more you can do your research, reflect on your own views and attitudes, and present appropriate answers.
The competition is so stiff to get a job (usually one hundred applicants for each opening) that fire departments only hire the cream of the crop. One wrong answer will often eliminate a candidate from the process.
Once a candidate understands the interview process and learns what we are looking for, he or she scores well on every future interview. As a result, the candidate will receive multiple job offers.
Since many fire departments only require that a candidate be at least 18-years of age and possess a high school diploma or GED, a candidate theoretically could get hired without having taken a single fire science or EMT course. However, completing EMT training, taking fire science courses and graduating from a basic fire academy will undoubtedly improve a candidate’s chances of getting hired.