Preparing for Firefighter Candidate Interviews
Battalion Chief Paul Lepore
If a department puts its new recruits through a formal training academy, a candidate who does not possess any of the aforementioned credentials will still have a chance in the hiring process. Other departments require completion of a basic fire academy to even qualify to apply.
The most important thing in the interview process is for the candidate to present him or herself as a person we want to have as a part of our crew. A candidate can have the most impressive resume, but if he or she is not someone we want to spend a 24-hour shift with, we will not hire him or her to be part of our family. Remember, we have the option of choosing anyone we want. We can train you to be a firefighter; we cannot train you to be a good person.
The best way to improve your interview scores is with practice, or mock, interviews. Knock on the door of your local firehouse and enlist the help of the firefighters. They undoubtedly took an interview to get their badge. Some crews will be more current than others on the interview and testing process. Since firefighters are usually not short on opinions, they will probably have a lot to share with you. Listen to what they have to say and incorporate it into your delivery.
Once you have learned the basics of how to take an interview, a private coaching session will certainly enhance your score. I would suggest learning all you can before enlisting the assistance of an interview coach. When you feel you are ready, it is a great investment of your time and money.
The following is an excerpt from my book, “Smoke Your Firefighter Interview.” Although it may be a review for those who have already the read book, I feel it is important to be exposed to the thought processes behind an interview question.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Paul Lepore. My family and I live in Dana Point, California. My wife, Marian, and I have been married for 12 years and have two daughters, Ashley and Samantha. I grew up in Huntington Beach and spent the majority of my life in northern Orange County before moving south 3 years ago.
I enjoy sport fishing. My wife and I own a boat on which we spend a lot of time fishing and exploring the waters around Catalina Island. My love of fishing has taken me on some extensive travels through Baja, California. I have even written a book about my passion, called “Sport Fishing in Baja.” In addition to the outdoors, I also like playing racquetball and basketball and enjoy riding my bicycle.
I currently work as an electrician. Two years ago I set myself a goal to become a firefighter. Since then I have pursued an education in fire science and have learned all I could about becoming a good firefighter.