Preparing for Firefighter Candidate Interviews
Battalion Chief Paul Lepore
The purpose of this question is to provide you, the candidate, with an opportunity to discuss your personal life. As you may have noticed, I did not mention much about my qualifications. I used this opportunity to talk about my personal life and my hobbies. This kind of question is designed to encourage you to bring out information about your life experiences and personal interests.
Sharing personal information about yourself gives the rater an opportunity to learn what kind of person you are. It also gives the rater a chance to discover something about you that he or she can relate to. That may create a positive feeling, which may result in him/her giving you a higher score. Let me give you an analogy to illustrate my point.
Imagine that our wives work together and have dragged us to their annual office Christmas party. We are sitting at a circular table dressed in our suits and ties. Our wives disappear to mingle with their co-workers. You and I have never met but sense we are in the same boat. Rather than ignore one another, we start talking about such things as where we’re from, how many kids we have, where we live, etc. If we have a lot of time to talk, we might even discuss the kind of work we do, how we met our wives, how long we’ve been married and where we grew up.
Usually when you find a common interest with another person, you tend to want to explore that. For example, if the other person mentions that he likes fishing, I would ask him more about it since I also enjoy fishing. I would mention my interest in both fresh and salt water fishing, and encourage him to talk about his fishing adventures. This example illustrates how common ground can promote conversation, which may then lead into discovering other common areas of interest.
Many candidates mistake this question as an opportunity to outline their resume. This is a serious mistake. The question is designed to encourage answers about your personal interests. This is your opportunity to show the board who you are. Don’t waste time going over your qualifications; rather, use the time to enlighten the board.
By using this opportunity to provide information about where you are from, what you do for fun, and any special accomplishments that you are proud of, hopefully someone on the board will identify with something you have said and will feel a connection.