Being a firefighter is a position that many desire. Having the ability to save lives and make a meaningful impact on society can give you the satisfaction that few other job roles offer. However, getting into the firefighting ranks is not an easy task. You’ll have to go through a rigorous screening process that would judge your grit, persistence, patience, and ability to handle challenging situations.
How you fare on the interview assessment can make or break your career. However, the first step in acing any interview is having control over your nerves. Visible nervousness will rarely ever do you any good. So without further ado, here are some tips from industry experts to help you ace your interview for a firefighter position:
Be mindful of what the interviewer wants to know
Adequate preparation can help you answer questions without sounding surprised. This means it’s possible your interviewer would judge you on your level of understanding and prior preparation. Hence, being mindful of the type of questions your interviewer would ask you can go a long way in boosting your confidence on interview day.
Interviewers generally ask questions regarding your qualifications, personal interests, interpersonal skills, strengths, weaknesses, and communication to assess if you’re a good fit for the position. Hence, preparing a two-minute pitch in front of the mirror to talk about yourself is actually a great idea.
Talk about relevant skills
To be blunt and honest, your interviewer will meet several hundred candidates the same day they meet you. This means at the end of the day, your ability to stand out in the crowd matters. If you’re just another face in the candidate pool, it’s unlikely that the interviewers will call you back.
So how can you rise above the others? Simple answer, showcase relevant skills. Now when you’re applying for a firefighter position, your HTML or web development skills are rarely going to be relevant. However, if you add the specific firefighter and EMT skills your employers are looking for in your resume, you have a greater chance of being remembered.
Be prepared to talk about your command of these firefighter skills in detail. Your interviewers will be interested in knowing how you plan on using these skill sets in the field. An aspirant firefighter’s most admirable traits include quick decision-making abilities, strong situational awareness, physical stamina, and leadership capabilities.
Review the list of frequently asked questions
Having an idea of frequently asked questions can help you deliver the answers will confidence. Some of these questions will require answers based on your previous work and training experience. These questions aim to gauge how you responded to challenging workplace scenarios in the past.
Some commonly asked questions are:
- Why do you want to become a firefighter?
- What responsibilities as a firefighter would be most challenging for you to handle?
- If you have any experience as a volunteer firefighter, please tell us a little about it.
- What, according to you, are the essential qualities of a firefighter?
- Do you think you work well with groups? Tell us a little about your experience working with a group.
- Have you ever presented to large groups? What would you talk about during a fire safety presentation?
- What’s the first step in preventing fires in significant buildings?
- Have you ever been in an emergency? How did you deal with it?
- Do you a routine for maintaining your physical fitness? Can you tell us about it?
- Are you currently doing something to improve your knowledge and abilities of firefighting?
- How confident are you in your mechanical abilities? Can you talk about your experience?
- Tell us about a time you used your communication skills to handle a tricky situation.
- Tell us about the most stressful task you had to carry out at your previous workplace.
- How would you respond if a superior asked you to perform duties that were out of departmental protocols?
Use the STAR technique
One significant way of answering questions that require you to talk about previous experiences is the STAR interview technique. This method helps you provide a satisfactory answer by expanding on a past Situation, describe the Task involved, talk about the Actions you took, and finish with a short account of the Results your actions influenced.
Prepare stories to tell
Imagine all is going well during your interview when you’re asked a question regarding a previous experience that put you under pressure and required you to make a decision in a short amount of time. If you stutter and find it difficult to remember something relevant, you may come across as unorganized and forgetful.
These traits could be detrimental to your career. Hence, in this scenario, consider the STAR method and respond accordingly.
Here’s an example:
“During my time as a volunteer firefighter at the Suffolk County District, I experienced many emergencies that required us to make quick decisions. It’s an intrinsic part of the job. Most times, you have to rely on your training and situational awareness to help you make the right call. Sometimes you may be called to a situation when it isn’t safe to enter.
Something like this happened when my colleagues and I were called to take care of a small building fire. Initially, it seemed like the house was safe to enter. However, intuition and experience told me to stop our team members from entering. The building was empty, and all residents had gotten out safely. A few minutes later, there was a massive explosion that we narrowly escaped.”
The above story engages your audience and helps them understand the situation you were in. It also shows that you’re a team worker who uses their skillsets to guide their colleagues. This concrete example shows you how you can relate your experience and skills to show the interviewers that you’re capable of taking charge as a firefighter.
Prepare for your NYC firefighter exam with Civil Service Success
At Civil Service Success, we help you ace the challenging NYC firefighter exam with our extensive exam preparation services. Connect with us today and take the first in building your firefighting career.
We also offer preparation classes for NYS Court Officer Trainee Exam and Suffolk County Police exam at fantastic rates.