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How to end your fire interview properly

...a quick guide to ending your fire interview.

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“How should I end my interview?”

It’s a question I’ve gotten from several candidates.

The fire interview is by far the most important step of the entire hiring process. Your chances of getting hired live and die in those precious minutes.

No matter how well you think you did, if you don’t end it properly all your hard work goes right out the window.

Let’s look at a few principles for ending the interview properly.

There’s an old thought out there that candidates or rookies are only to speak when spoken to and nothing more. Thankfully that line of thinking is going away.

Remember, this panel wants to get to know you, and I have a hard time believing that if you include a sentence or two of genuine gratitude and appreciation to the panel that they will find it off putting or irritating in any way.

However, the panel isn’t looking for a closing monologue. I typically recommend against a traditional closing statement, but some people seem to think it is still a good idea. The panel has just spent the last 20 minutes or so getting to know you so I really don’t see a whole lot of sense in recapping everything you’ve talked about.

That being said, if you do decide to end with a closing statement, limit it to a few sentences at most. Something along the lines of,

‘Thank you all very much for your time. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to interview in front of you today. I look forward to hearing from you soon.’

Should be just right. It’s short, appreciative, to the point and respectful.

So, should I ask questions at the end of the interview?

Yes and no.

If the panel doesn’t ask you if you have any questions for them (I’d be surprised if they didn’t), then no. Don’t ask any questions. That would be the perfect time to stand up, thank them for their time and leave.

More than likely after the panel has completed the interview they will ask you if you have any questions for them. It’s important you get these right.

It’s important that during your preparation for your upcoming interview you come up with two or three genuine questions for them, and with these questions I want to make a few guidelines.

1. DO NOT under any circumstances ask about any of the following:
– money
– vacation
– time off
– benefits
– bonus/ perks of the job
– or anything that can be misinterpreted as you applying to the job for the ‘wrong reasons’

2. DO come prepared with two questions. This makes you look interested, engaged and eager to learn more about their department.

3. DO NOT try to be funny or make any jokes. You don’t need to be a robot, but this is certainly not the time for comedy. Remember your goal is to look professional the entire time.

4. DO ask questions that show, or at least hint at a few things:
– You’re interested in working for THEIR department
– You want to learn more
– You want to expand your role beyond the minimum requirements
– You’re confident in yourself and your ability to be an asset to their department

If you’re anything like me I learn best from examples. Feel free to craft your own questions from those guidelines, but here are some of the exact questions I used:

– What does the new cadet training program consist of at _________ Fire Department?

– Does _________ Fire Department encourage their firefighters to further their education through courses offered at the fire academy?

– What community outreach programs does _________ Fire Department participate in?

– What is the relationship like between __________ Fire Department and the community?

And, for those places in the country that don’t require firefighter’s to be paramedics…

– Does _________ Fire Department encourage firefighters to go to paramedic school?

If you look at those questions they fit all the guidelines. They don’t mention anything about perks, money or time off. You’re not trying to be funny or clever.

But most importantly they show that you’re interested in finding out more about their particular department, and furthering your knowledge and responsibility within that department.

Finally, my last bit of advice would be to watch how many questions you ask. While asking great inquisitive questions can really make you stand out as a candidate, too many questions can put the panel on the defensive.

Remember, YOU’RE the interviewee not them.

My rule was I always stuck to a maximum of two questions.  If you can end the interview properly, it will make you stand out far more than most.

If you’re preparing for your first interview, or getting ready for your next, check out the FirefighterNOW Classroom to help you prepare!

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...