12/19/10 75 W - + 7 - 9 Preparing For Your Oral Interview

A reader requests information on preparing for an oral interview. What advice do readers have for someone interviewing for the position of firefighter? And particularly those who have never interviewed before? Beyond dressing nice, of course. Google finds a few resources, such as this Firehouse.com column and this page of resources from the Don McNea Fire School. What other resources, or personal advice would you offer? Thanks in advance.

1. Show up on time. Nothing kills an interview like a candidate that’s late. Know the exact location (including room number) and time of your interview, then check traffic and parking conditions at that time of day ahead of time.
2. Answer the question that’s asked. If you don’t understand it, don’t be afraid to ask for a repeat – but not on every question.
3. Keep some meat in your answers but don’t go on forever. Answers that are too short or too long can sometimes be a problem.
4. Make eye contact; whether it’s a board or an individual, this doesn’t change.
5. Don’t oversell or undersell your qualifications or interest. Just be yourself.
6. Do your homework. It’s always nice to know that the candidate has taken some time to learn about the department.
7. Be engaged with the interview process; act interested and connected.
8. Always leave politely and professionally with a handshake.
9. Don’t worry too much; everyone has to go through the same process.
10. Repeat #9.
RWECC - 12/19/10 - 18:58

Everything that RWECC has stated plus a few extras.
When they ask the question “Tell us about yourself” dont answer with what your firefighter certifications and other things are. Talk about you, things you like to do if your involved with church activities, sports your family etc. You will have a chance to talk about your fire stuff later in the interview. Answer the question they ask, dont give to much information but also dont short change your answer.
Create a list of questions you think they would most likely ask and go over them. and utmost know as much as you can about the agency your applying for
OBX - 12/19/10 - 20:17

Be prepared to answer this question: Why should you be selected over the other candidates?
AP - 12/19/10 - 20:25

If there is a panel of say 4 or more, do you approach all of them and shake hands?
Candidate - 12/19/10 - 20:56

To further improve your ability to avoid being tardy, arrive within walking distance 30 minutes before your interview. Then spend that 30 minutes relaxing, reading, grabbing a cup of coffee, etc.

Also, try role-playing ahead of the interview. Get a friend to play interviewer. Go somewhere other than your living room. Dress up.
Legeros - 12/19/10 - 22:26


I recently applied for a job (the one I currently have) and had an interview panel of four people. I already knew all of them, but shook all of their hands both before and after the interview. I don’t think that is expected or required, but it is a good thing to do in my opinion. Speaking of which, use a firm hand shake…not too strong but not limp either. Good luck!
AP - 12/19/10 - 22:59

I agree with AP. If it’s a panel, you want ALL of them to know you. Also.. leave your cell phone in the car or turn it OFF – not just to vibrate. If you forget and it rings – excuse yourself for a second – turn it off without looking at who’s calling – and apologize. Whatever you do, don’t leave it ring or answer it even to say you are in an interview. Remember – this is the FD’s time you’re on; not yours. Finally (at least for this post) keep your social networking clean, before during, and after the hiring process. We can debate this all you want but griping in a blog, or being tagged doing a kegstand on Facebook are not career enhancements. ‘Nuf said.
RWECC - 12/20/10 - 09:18

Mike is right, “Dress Up” all to often people wear casual attire to an interview. If your already on the job and this is a promotional interview wear your dress uniform that your department issues to you. Does the military wear street clothes to a promotional interview??? No!!! Be proud to wear that badge this is the best job in the world. This is your one chance to shine and make your impression. Make sure you visit the barber or a salon a couple of days prior to your inteview. You would be surprised how many people come to an interview looking like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Know as much as you can about the department and the municipality before the process.
Jacot - 12/20/10 - 10:11

Dress up for the interview, yes! Suit and tie! Hawaiian shirts, not acceptible!

Dress up for role playing. Want to practice? Go all out. Dress up for practice.
Legeros - 12/20/10 - 10:16

This past year I have helped a lot of people to obtain the badge. I will be starting my own business this year to help those try to obtain the “Badge”. There are many pointers that I can help you with. The one thing that I can truly say is please don’t sell yourself short by saying things that you really wouldn’t do just to get the job. Example; Question comes at you about “OVERTIME” can you work it. I betcha everyone has told me “YES”, but that is a BIG FAT LIE, if you have a family, you are married with family plans, etc., then no you can’t work “OVERTIME”. So correct answer is, I would love to work overtime but there will come time when I have previous engagements so I will not be able. Thank You…...
John K. Johnson - 12/20/10 - 17:31

Thanks for the tips everyone.
Candidate - 12/21/10 - 16:17

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