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4 MAJOR Pre Interview Mistakes

...and how to avoid them!

Are You Frustrated With The Firefighter Hiring Process?

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If you have never heard it before, let me be the first to tell you, the most important part of the hiring process to become a career firefighter is the interview.

Don’t get me wrong, finishing first on the test, having a great CPAT score and a spotless background helps, but the interview is where the job is won and lost. Those first few minutes with the interview panel are usually the first, and sometimes last, impression they will get of you.

Let’s make sure you leave a great first impression by avoiding four of the biggest pre interview mistakes.

Showing up late.

This sounds pretty obvious, but it does happen. Nothing screams “I DON’T CARE!” quite like strolling in right on time or late. These officers are taking time out of their day to find someone who is ready, willing and excited to have the opportunity to be a firefighter at their department.

If you don’t respect them and their time your chances of getting hired have essentially gone to zero. That being said stuff like car accidents, flat tires, acts of God etc do happen. Just do your best to try and avoid them.

The best and easiest way to avoid this blunder is to know your route. Know exactly where the building is, and exactly how long it will take to get there. Even better, know a couple routes just in case one is closed. Make sure you drive them a day or two before the interview, and you should be well on your way to getting there on time. Also, ‘on time’ means a minimum of 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin. This is important to make sure you have ample time to use the restroom and get a drink of water before you start.

Not treating everyone as if they were the chief.

If the chief of the department greeted you at the door would you stick out your hand, introduce yourself and ask how they were doing? I hope so. However, make sure you extend that same professional courtesy to everyone you will meet the day of the interview.

Chances are you will come into contact with front office staff, city officials, janitors and other firefighters (aka your potential future co­workers).

Make sure you treat everyone, and I mean everyone, with respect and greet them with a genuine smile. I get it, you’re nervous and you should be, but don’t think that the officers you will be meeting in the interview won’t take into account the opinions of the other firefighters and staff.

Remember, you’re interviewing to be part of their group, and if you disrespect one of them it won’t look good for you.

Sloppy appearance.

It’s really hard, dare I say impossible, to change a first impression. If you only have 20 minutes to convince your future bosses why you could be the newest face of the department you had better show up prepared. This means dressing, acting, and looking professional.

Guys, going to an interview wearing anything less than a suit and tie is unacceptable. Please do not show up wearing jeans, khakis or any casual clothes. Keep it simple and stick with classic colors and patterns. Also, make sure you are clean shaven, and if you have any visible piercings take them out.

Ladies, going to an interview wearing anything less than a suit or skirt and blouse is unacceptable. Keep the skirts at least knee length (standard is 2 inches above the knee). This isn’t a fashion show, and the same advice of classic colors and patterns applies here as well. Also, remember to keep the visible piercings to a minimum.

The remedy, buy at least one professional outfit. In another article we’ll get into exactly what is best, but for now stick to the basics. If nothing else this outfit will come in handy for more than just the interview.

Not practicing your answers.

This is by far the biggest mistake that you could make before your interview. You will be asked a lot of questions by the panel in an effort to find out four main ideas; who you are, what you know, why you are the best fit for the department and how you would react in specific situations.

If you are unable to articulate to the panel in a unique and memorable way, your who, what, why and how; your chances of getting hired have dropped significantly.

How do you avoid this?

Prepare. You must practice your answers over and over until you can answer any question they may throw at you with ease. Check out the FirefighterNOW Classroom to make sure you’re prepared!

Here at FirefighterNOW we are proud to say that this article was also published on FireRescue1 as well as in the FireRecruit newsletter.  The link to the article can be found here.

Are You Frustrated With The Firefighter Hiring Process?

Grab your free e-book "The 8 Step Guide To Becoming A Career Firefighter" to learn what they don't teach you in fire school...