How To Prepare For The Chief’s Interview 

If you are interviewing for a firefighter position in a community, and have been called in for the chief’s interview, it is likely that you have been wondering about the questions the chief might ask you.

In most cases, the fire chief interview is the last step before hiring a firefighter, hence, your preparation leading up to it may decide whether or not you will be hired.

The most important thing to understand about this final round of interviews is that, unlike the panel interview, the chief’s interview usually does not have a pre-determined set of questions.

As this is more of a one-on-one interview, the atmosphere is usually less formal, and the chief is trying to get to know you on a more personal level. Their decision comes from their understanding of whether you would be the right fit for the department.

Having said that, here are a few steps you could take to prepare for the interview:

Research on the fire department and the community:

While mostly similar, every fire department is unique and will follow its own set of procedures and protocols. Read up on that department and municipality you will be interviewing for and learn as much as you can.

Also, it’s a good idea to add to your knowledge about the community as well. Your background knowledge would help you make a good first impression at the fire chief interview.  Here is a list of the most common fire interview questions and good information to know before the interview

Learn about the chief:

The chief is a leader, and all leaders exhibit different supervisory  traits. If you know some firefighters on the department you are interviewing for, ask them about the chief and what he/she is like.

Also, try to spend some time among the firefighters of the particular department to learn more about the chief’s working style. Understand their daily routine, the hierarchy they follow, and their general communications with the chief to get a clearer picture of the person you are set to interview with.

If you’re in a position where you don’t know anyone at the department, try to look up the chief on LinkedIn, Facebook etc.  It’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible, and maybe you’ll find out you have something in common.

Be prepared to talk about yourself:

The entire purpose of the chief’s interview is for the chief to get to know you better. Hence, it’s a good idea to prepare how you would answer if any question comes up on any gaps in your career, grey areas in your educational background or your personal life.

As this interview is more likely to be held in a semi-formal setting, it is imperative you do not give vague answers about anything concerning your past, including your interests outside work, your family life, or your community services.

In another article here on FirefighterNOW titled How To Become A Firefighter, we talk about the WHO questions.  These are the types of questions that seek to find out more about you.  Review those questions and come up with your own unique and memorable answers.

Hold some mock interviews:

It is difficult to predict exactly what questions you will face at the chief’s interview, but you can practice through some mock sessions that might give your confidence a leg up.

One great way to execute mock interviews is to ask the firefighters in the specific department to help you out. As they know more about the department and the chief, they would be in the best position to help you realize if you need to improve on anything.

They are the ones who have gone down this road before you, hence, the practical experience helps. The same preparation methods hold true for the chiefs interview as for the panel interviews. Here’s some of the best ways we know to prepare.

Don’t let your guard down:

As this interview is likely to have a more casual atmosphere, the way you say things might make or break the deal. It is a good idea to practice your interviews with friends and family. They might not know much about the chief but could help you improve your soft skills and professionalism.

Remember, the chief is not your friend. No matter how casual it may seem, you must relay a sense of professionalism and maturity during the interview.

If the environment in the room is warm and casual, do not take it for granted. There is a chance that the chief might even lighten up the mood, laugh, and crack relevant jokes.

However, do not let this be an indication that you should let your guard down. It is okay to share a few laughs, but be mature and keep it professional.

An important aspect of the fire chiefs interview is to judge how prepared you are. Remember, you are looking at a job that requires you to be always prepared for emergencies.

A similar attitude should reflect in your words when you are on that chair opposite to the department chief. The chief will most likely not grill you with technical questions. They are aware that you have passed through the previous rounds successfully before you got here.

They typically have all your records handy and know where you stand compared to other applicants in terms of technical knowledge. They are here to connect with you on a human level and evaluate your personality traits.

Preparing well ahead and doing your homework is the biggest takeaway to remember before going in for the chiefs interview.

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