Becoming a firefighter is an excellent career choice. It comes with a good salary, excellent prospects for progression and, most importantly, it’s a job that helps to save lives!
But, just like every other job, you’ll have to sit through an interview if you want to get onto a fire fighting course.
These questions can be tough, especially if you’re not particularly confident in interview situations. So, to help you out, we’ve put together a list of 51 questions that you might be asked during your interview.
We’ve also included advice on the best way to answer them. This will help you give the interviewers the answers they want to hear, and help you secure your position!
What Questions Will I Be Asked At A Firefighter Interview?
The questions that you’ll be asked will depend on the company’s hiring process. However, from our research, we’ve found that there are some common questions that come up time and time again.
We’ve put these common questions together in a list for you below. We’ve also categorized them to help explain the reason why you’re being asked certain questions.
Some of these may seem a little daunting at first and you might have no idea how to answer them, but don’t worry! We’ll break each one down and explain the best way to answer them a little further down the page.
The first set of questions you might be asked are “Who” questions. These are designed to allow the hiring panel to find out more about your background, your family, your home life, and generally who you are as a person.
Some “Who” questions you might be asked include:
- Tell us about yourself
- Tell us about your family
- Tell us about your best friend
- Tell us about your high school experience
- What aspect of becoming a firefighter appeals to you the most?
- What aspect of becoming a firefighter appeals to you the least?
- What do you feel is your greatest strength?
- What do you feel is your greatest weakness?
- What would your previous/current employer say about you?
- Are you on any other hiring lists?
- If we were to offer you this job, would you leave if offered a position elsewhere?
- When you reach retirement age, what would be an accomplishment that you would be most proud of?
- What are your hobbies?
You’ll also be asked some “Why” questions during your interview. These are designed to give you the opportunity to explain to the hiring panel the reason why you want to become a firefighter and how you’d like to progress with your career.
Some “Why” questions you might be asked include:
- When did you decide you wanted to become a firefighter?
- Why do you want to become a firefighter?
- Do you feel as though you’re qualified to be a firefighter?
- Why do you want to work for this Fire Department?
- Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, and 20 years?
- Why should we select you over the other candidates?
- If you were to be offered this position, when would you be able to start?
- Tell us about some life experiences that you believe could relate to this position?
These are the most common types of questions you’ll be asked in an interview. “How” questions give the interviewer the opportunity to see how you would respond in certain situations. As you can imagine, this is something that the head of a Fire Department would want to know!
Some “How” questions you might be asked include:
- How would you respond if you found illegal drugs in another firefighter’s locker?
- How would you respond if you suspected your Lieutenant was intoxicated?
- How would you respond to another firefighter offering you an illegal substance?
- How would you handle conflict with another firefighter?
- How would you respond if you saw another firefighter stealing?
- How you would handle bullying or discrimination in the workplace?
- How would you handle conflicting orders at the scene of a fire?
- How would you deal with an irate citizen?
- How would you deal with sexual harassment towards both yourself and another person?
- How would you deal with a coworker making racist comments or jokes?
- How would you deal with an order that goes against your own moral judgement?
- How would you deal with an order that could put you in great danger?
- How would you respond to a question that you don’t know the answer to?
- Tell us about a time you disagreed with your boss. How did you handle the situation?
- How do you handle stressful situations?
- How do you handle criticism?
The final question category is the “What” questions. These act a bit like “How” questions and give the hiring panel a feel for what you might do in certain situations. They also allow you to explain what you know about the Fire Department and they give you another opportunity to sell yourself.
Some “What” questions you might be asked include:
- What have you done to prepare for this job?
- What have you done to prepare for this interview?
- What is the primary goal of this Fire Department?
- What do you believe the job of a firefighter is?
- What do you think the role of a firefighter is within this city/district?
- What would you bring to this job if you were hired?
- Tell us what you know about this Fire Department
- What do you think are the most important attributes of a firefighter?
- What is the most important trait a firefighter must have?
- What do you think the role of a rookie firefighter is?
- Have you ever been in an emergency situation?
- What do you think the day-to-day activities and responsibilities of a firefighter are?
- What sort of formal education do you have?
- What have you done since high school?
- Do you have any questions for us?
Will I Be Asked All Of These Questions?
The chances of being asked 51 questions during an interview are quite small. However, interviews are all about being prepared!
Each Fire Department will have its own set of questions that they ask potential employees and, if you’ve got a few different interviews lined up, it’s best to have all of your bases covered.
It’s also important to note that the hiring panel may throw the occasional spanner in the works and ask a question that you’re not prepared for. If you’re prepared enough, you’ll be able to handle these questions much better.
With preparedness in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to answer each of the questions above.
Taking the time to think about your answer ahead of the interview will help you plan what to say and how to say it eloquently. It’ll also help you give the hiring panel the answers they’re looking for!
Question 1: “Tell Us About Yourself”
This is one of those questions that most people absolutely dread having to answer! And, unfortunately, it’s usually asked right at the beginning of the interview.
This can really throw you off if you’re not prepared as you’ll be searching your mind for something interesting to tell the interviewer.
The first thing you should do when you’re asked this question is to thank the panel for the interview opportunity.
Something along the lines of “Well, first of all, thank you for the opportunity to interview with you today. I’m really excited about this prospect…”. After this, you can start to tell them about yourself.
By doing this first, you’ll be achieving two things. First of all, you’ll be showing that you have respect for the panel and the Fire Department, which will go a long way.
Secondly, you’ll be giving yourself a moment to steady your voice before you start talking. This is especially useful if you’re a nervous interviewee.
In terms of what you should tell the hiring panel about yourself, we’d recommend keeping it brief. They don’t need to know every small detail of your life, just the basics. Cover your education, relevant work experience, and what it is that brought you in front of the panel today.
This is also an opportunity to tell them about any relevant qualifications you’ve gained that could help you secure the position. Have you done a first aid course and gained EMS certification? Perhaps you’ve undertaken a course in mechanical engineering?
Two minutes is more than enough time to tell the hiring panel everything they need to know without giving them your full life story.
Question 2: “Tell Us About Your Family”
This is a pretty personal question and, as such, it’s not something you have to go into too much detail over. If you’re close to your family, tell them. If you’re not, you don’t have to. You can simply say that you’re from a small family that is scattered far and wide.
A good hiring panel will be able to read the room and, if you’re not giving them too much information about your family life, they won’t press you for more. After all, it’s not particularly relevant to the job itself.
Question 3: “Tell Us About Your Best Friend”
Again, this is a fairly personal question but the reason it’s being asked is to see what your judge of character is like.
If you were to answer this question by saying “My best friend is insane, he’s / she’s always getting me into trouble”, there’s a good chance that the interview panel is going to think that you don’t make the best decisions in your personal life!
The best way to answer this question is to say something along the lines of “My best friend is called (insert name here), and we’ve known each other for years now. They are caring and really supportive of everything I do”.
This shows them that you’ve got a good support network behind you that you can fall back on when you’ve had a hard shift. The tales of your holidays and nights out are best left off the interview table!
Question 4: “Tell Us About Your High School Experience”
This is another instance where it’s best to leave out some information that might not impress the interviewer. In any case, every detail of what happened during your high school years isn’t of any relevance to the job.
Instead, talk about the classes you enjoyed and the friends you made. This is also your opportunity to talk about any extracurricular activities you took part in.
If they are relevant to the job all the better, however, they don’t necessarily need to be. What you will be showing is that you’re a motivated person who likes to better themselves by learning new things.
So, whether you were on the football team, yearbook committee, or a valuable member of the drama club, make sure you talk about your extracurricular activities.
Question 5: “What Aspect Of Becoming A Firefighter Appeals To You The Most?”
This question is fairly self explanatory but it’s surprisingly easy to get wrong. You really need to think about the reasons you want to become a firefighter and choose the answer that the interview panel wants to hear.
You might think that the most appealing aspect is getting to wear a cool uniform and slide down a pole when the alarm goes off. But, this isn’t the right answer by any stretch of the imagination!
Instead, you might want to say something along the lines of “I want to be able to help people in need”, or “I want to be able to save somebody’s life”. You might also want to mention that you like the idea of working as part of a team to achieve something great.
These are much more appropriate answers and, ultimately, they will be what the interview panel is looking for.
Question 6: “What Aspect Of Becoming A Firefighter Appeals To You The Least?”
It’s best to be honest here. For most people, the least appealing thing about becoming a firefighter is the idea of witnessing people in distress and, in some cases, having to deal with death first hand.
There’s no point in trying to act tough and pretend that these things wouldn’t bother you. You’re human after all and, if you tell the interview panel that these are the least appealing aspects of the job, they’ll appreciate your honesty. They’ll also know exactly where you’re coming from.
There’s often a bit of a grim silence at the end of this question, but you can counteract this by finishing your answer by reiterating the reasons why you want to become a firefighter.
For example, you might say something along the lines of “For me, the least appealing thing about becoming a firefighter is the idea of witnessing people in danger and distress. But this is also why I chose this career path - to help free people from these situations”.
Question 7: “What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Strength?”
This is one of the most common questions you’ll hear in any interview. Your potential new employer is asking you this so that they can get a feel for what it is that you think you’d be able to bring to the role.
In the case of a firefighter interview, you’ll need to think back to what it is that you find most appealing about becoming a firefighter.
If you said “the opportunity to work in a team”, it’s a good idea to say that you believe your greatest strength is the ability to listen to others and work collaboratively. You could also say that you have experience of leading a team of people.
Don’t be tempted to state physical facts about yourself, here. While you do need to be extremely fit to be a firefighter, your medical exams will show the interview panel everything they need to know. They’re looking for something a little deeper than how fast you can run!
Question 8: “What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Weakness?”
As with your greatest strength, it’s a good idea to call back to the least appealing thing about being a firefighter when you’re asked what your greatest weakness is.
In this case, you might say “I feel as though my greatest weakness is letting certain events affect me too much”. Your interview panel will usually understand this and, in some cases, this opens up the conversation as to what support the Fire Department offers in terms of counseling.
The one thing you don’t want to do here is tell them something that could ruin your chances of getting the job.
For example, if you were to say “My greatest weakness is being unorganized”, the interview panel may believe that you won’t be able to get into your firefighting gear and be on the road in seconds.
Saying that you’re unorganized would also imply that you’d be less than helpful at the scene of the incident!
Question 9: “What Would Your Previous/Current Employer Say About You?”
This is an opportunity to show the interview panel your work ethic. Tell them how your boss would say you’re trustworthy, an excellent team player, and that you always hit your targets on time.
You might also want to say that you’d believe your boss would be more than happy to provide an excellent reference if needed.
One thing you want to avoid here, however, is showboating. You’ll need to find that fine line between telling the interviewer that your boss admires your work ethic and trying to make them believe that they’d fall to pieces if you left!
If you oversell it too much, they might believe that you’re overcompensating and that your boss wouldn’t say those things about you at all!
Question 10: “Are You On Any Other Hiring Lists?”
This is another question that is best answered with honesty. In most cases, you’ll be on other hiring lists as most people wouldn’t apply for just one job at a time!
Interview panels are aware of how difficult it can be to secure a good job and they’ll completely understand that you’ve sent your resume to several other Fire Departments.
One thing that might also happen when you tell the truth here is that the hiring panel may choose to act a lot more swiftly. If they feel you’re the ideal candidate but they’re aware that you're interviewing elsewhere, you may find yourself getting a job offer sooner rather than later.
Question 11: “If We Were To Offer You This Job, Would You Leave If Offered A Position Elsewhere?”
There is only one answer to this question - “No”. It costs a Fire Department a surprising amount of money to onboard new employees, purchase their uniforms and equipment, and train them to the expected standard.
There is often ongoing training that costs the Fire Department money as well.
If you were to say “Well, if something better were to come along I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t take it”, you might as well walk straight out of the room and never look back!
The Fire Department that you’re interviewing for wants to know that you’re worth investing in. If you tell them that you’re only planning to stick around for a couple of months, they simply won’t consider you for the position as they’d be throwing money down the drain.
Question 12: “When You Reach Retirement Age, What Would Be An Accomplishment That You Would Be Most Proud Of?”
This is a question that you can have some fun with, but you should also try and keep it within the realms of possibility! We’d recommend splitting your desired accomplishments into two categories; personal life and work life.
Start with work life. You could tell the interview panel that you would consider having worked for such a fantastic Fire Department with an incredible team of firefighters who helped to save countless lives the accomplishment that you’d be most proud of.
The opportunity to have some fun comes with the personal life category. Here you might say that you’d be proud of having supported your family while doing something that you’ve loved, and that has helped other people.
You might also say that your proudest accomplishment is being able to finally afford that dream car!
Adding a little fun into this question gives the interview panel the chance to see your personality again. They are going to be working with you, after all, so answering all of your questions in a robotically rehearsed fashion won’t allow your character to shine through!
Question 13: “What Are Your Hobbies?”
This is another area where you can allow your personality to shine through. Whether it’s playing for your local sports team, cooking, gardening, or anything else, you’ll be telling the interview panel that you have an interest outside of work.
You might also have a hobby in common with an interviewer which can help relax the room a bit more. And, you never know, it might help increase your chances of getting the job too!
One thing that is important to note here is that you don’t have to tell them everything you enjoy. Nights out at your local bar, for example, are best left unmentioned.
If you go straight in with “I really like drinking with my friends”, there’s a chance that the interview panel will believe you’ll turn up to work with a hangover more than once!
Question 14: “When Did You Decide You Wanted To Become A Firefighter?”
Again, honesty is the best policy here. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of becoming a firefighter from a very young age. Maybe you were involved in an accident that resulted in being rescued by a firefighter and you want to follow in their footsteps.
Whatever your reason, this is another area where you’re able to show the interview panel your character.
Question 15: “Why Do You Want To Become A Firefighter?”
Naturally, an interview panel will want to hear why you want to become a firefighter. It’s a rewarding career, but it’s certainly one of the most dangerous jobs out there.
You have to think really carefully about this answer as it can lead to further questions that you might not be prepared for. For example, if you were to simply say “I want to be able to help people”, an interviewer may follow up with “So why become a firefighter and not an EMT?”
It’s best to be as specific as possible and you can even give some theoretical examples to help you. For instance, you might say “I want to be able to help people who find themselves in dangerous situations such as being trapped in a car or stuck at the top of a burning building.
I basically want to be able to help people that believe they have no way out of their current situation”.
Doing this leaves no room open for interpretation. You’ll have given an example of why you want to become a firefighter by detailing a situation that only a firefighter would be able to handle.
Question 16: “Do You Feel As Though You’re Qualified To Be A Firefighter?”
This question gives you the opportunity to speak about some of the qualifications you’ve gained. If you’re a firefighter and you’re simply switching to another Fire Department, you’ll already have all of the qualifications you need. In this case, the question is easy to answer.
If you’re starting from an entry level position, it’s best to talk about some of the qualifications you’ve gained that have helped you get to this point. Maybe you have an EMS certification?
Perhaps you’ve been volunteering at another Fire Department for a while and you already have some experience of what the job entails.
You can also explore other avenues with this question, too. For example, You might want to talk about your fitness level as firefighting can be a physically demanding job.
Question 17: “Why Do You Want To Work For This Fire Department?”
You’ll have to do some research to answer this question properly. Look at the Fire Department’s website, click on their ‘About Us’ section and find something that could help in your interview.
For example, you might want to say something along the lines of “I noticed that this Fire Department was founded in 1880.
I love the idea of being part of a Department that has such a long history of saving lives and helping people in need, and I’d be proud to be a part of that history one day”.
There are some obvious answers to avoid here, too. Don’t say “Because it’s close to my house” or “Because it pays more than any other Fire Department”! The hiring panel wants to know that you want to work there for reasons that are greater than personal convenience.
Question 18: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5, 10, and 20 Years Time?”
This is another common interview question and it’s something that offers you the opportunity to tell the hiring panel that you intend on sticking around if you’re offered the position!
Tell them how across each period of time you’d like to have worked hard enough to be considered for promotion to the next level. You might also want to say that the idea of this isn’t just for personal gain, but so that you can help recruit and train future firefighters.
There is something else that this question opens up; the opportunity to discuss progression. Oftentimes an interviewer will respond to your answer by telling you about any training programs the Fire Department has in place that can help you get to the next level.
Question 19: “Why Should We Select You Over The Other Candidates?”
This is your chance to reiterate everything you’ve already told the interviewer and really sell yourself.
Talk about your qualifications and your passion for the job. This seems like a daunting question but, if you just call back everything you’ve spoken about, it’s actually pretty easy to answer.
Things to avoid would be sentences such as “Because I’m the best” or “Because you’d be lucky to have me”! You might be thinking them (and perhaps they’re even true), but saying them out loud will simply make you seem arrogant.
Question 20: “If You Were To Be Offered This Position, When Would You Be Able To Start?”
With all interview questions, there’s no point in telling the hiring panel something that you think they’ll want to hear if it’s untrue. This is especially true when it comes to your current notice period.
If you have to give two weeks’ notice, tell them. If you were to say “I can start straight away” and then get offered the job, you may risk losing the offer as you’ll still have to finish your contractual notice period.
It’s worth noting that it’s very unlikely that you wouldn’t be considered for the position just because you can’t start immediately. Most Human Resources Departments are aware of the fact that there is a notice period between leaving a job and starting a new one.
If they feel you’re the best fit for the role, you’ll still be offered it even if they have to wait a few weeks before you can join the team.
Question 21:Tell Us About Some Life Experiences That You Believe Could Relate To This Position”
You might have to think outside the box a bit with this one. If you had an experience that involved you rescuing somebody from a dangerous situation or administering CPR, then it’s definitely worth mentioning!
However, this isn’t an experience that most people can call upon. So, instead, think about a stressful situation you’ve faced in the past and think about how you overcame it.
Firefighting is a stressful job and detailing a stressful situation that you navigated smoothly, you’ll be showing them that you are capable of handling stress.
Question 22: “How Would You Respond If You Found Illegal Drugs In Another Firefighter's Locker?”
There’s no debate around this answer. If you found illegal drugs in another firefighter’s locker, you would report it to the highest authority. Even if you’re particularly friendly with the firefighter in question, they are breaking the law.
You might be asked why you would report them. Well, aside from breaking the law, the fact they have illegal drugs in their possession would suggest that they are using them.
And, in the case of an emergency, they aren’t going to act with the level-headedness and attention to detail that is required of a firefighter.
Question 23: “How Would You Respond If You Suspected Your Lieutenant Was Intoxicated?”
Again, this is another situation where you would need to report your suspicions to the highest authority possible. If the lieutenant is intoxicated, they won’t be able to do their job correctly.
Even worse, they could act irrationally when delivering orders which could put both firefighters and the general public in real danger.
It might also be worth saying that another good reason for reporting them would be so they are able to receive the help they need. They might be going through some mental health problems that they are trying to numb with drink or drugs.
By reporting them, you’re not only keeping your fellow firefighters and the general public safe, but you could also be helping your lieutenant work through some issues.
Question 24: “How Would You Respond To Another Firefighter Offering You An Illegal Substance?”
The answer to this question is fairly obvious; you would say no to them. However, it’s also a good idea to say that you’d consider taking things a step further by reporting them to the highest authorities possible.
After all, some of your colleagues may not be as strong-willed or sensible as you and may feel peer-pressured into taking them.
There might be a follow up question here asking how you would react to this situation in a non-work-based environment. Again, the answer would be “I wouldn’t take them”.
Explain that, outside of work, what your colleague does is none of your business. However, you still understand that you have a moral obligation to uphold and that taking an illegal substance would go against this.
It would also potentially affect your health and your performance, making it difficult for you to do your job properly.
Question 25: “How Would You Handle Conflict With Another Firefighter?”
To answer this, you might have to call back upon another situation where you fell out with a colleague. Talk about how you rectified the situation.
Maybe you took the time to sit down and talk through your issues. Or, perhaps you worked out a plan of action that acted as a compromise for both of you.
Hiring panels love to hear past experiences rather than theoretical situations. It’s always much more impressive to explain how you’ve dealt with something in the past than to say how you might deal with it when it happens.
Question 26: How Would You Respond If You Saw Another Firefighter Stealing?”
As with the case of illegal drugs and intoxication, you should say that you would report them to the correct authorities. This isn’t something that is worth going unnoticed as the firefighter in question is breaking their moral code.
We should note here that in all cases of reporting fellow firefighters to higher authorities for misconduct, you are able to do this anonymously. With this in mind, don’t let the idea of the person finding out who it was put you off answering the question correctly.
Question 27: “How Would You Handle Bullying Or Discrimination In The Workplace?”
There are two avenues to explore with this question. Let’s talk, first of all, about how you would handle bullying or discrimination that is happening to you.
In this instance, you might tell the interview panel that you would try to address the issue yourself by speaking to the person acting inappropriately, explaining how it makes you feel, and asking them to stop.
Following this, explain that if this behavior continued, you would handle the situation by reporting them to the HR department and following the correct procedures.
Now, let’s think about how you would handle bullying or discrimination that was happening to somebody else. Explain to your interview that, in this instance, you would consider approaching both parties first of all.
Ask the victim if it’s affecting them negatively and ask the bully to stop. And, as with the first instance, if you see the behavior continuing, explain that you would report it to the HR department and allow the correct process to take place.
Question 28: “How Would You Handle Conflicting Orders At The Scene Of A Fire?”
This is quite a common question at a firefighter interview so it’s one you’ll need to be prepared to answer.
You might be painted a scenario here that explains to you that your Lieutenant (Office A) has ordered you to do one thing, while your Chief (Officer B) has ordered you to do another. How do you deal with this?
Here’s the correct solution to this scenario. You tell Officer B that you’re already following orders given by Officer A. You would then ask Officer B whether they would like to continue with the current course of action, or whether you should switch to their command.
If you’ve been ordered to switch, you would inform Officer A that Office B has given new orders. And, since Officer B is the Chief, it’s these orders that you’ll be following.
By doing this, you’re removing any risk of miscommunication and completing the task as instructed by the highest-ranking officer.
Question 29: “How Would You Deal With An Irate Citizen?
You might be surprised to receive this question in a firefighter interview. You’re there to help people after all, so why would anybody be irate? Well, let’s say that you’ve parked the fire truck in front of another car and the driver can’t access their vehicle.
This might not seem like the biggest issue in an emergency situation (and it isn’t) but, as a firefighter, you need to keep everybody safe and happy.
In this case, you would explain to the hiring panel that you would acknowledge the citizen but only when it is safe to do so. Under no circumstances would you walk away from an incident and move the truck to appease them.
Instead, you would inform your superior officer that the irate citizen needs to be dealt with and leave it in their capable hands.
They will likely have more experience in this type of situation and they will be able to refer them to the right person who can handle their complaint more efficiently.
Question 30: “How Would You Deal With Sexual Harassment Towards Both Yourself And Another Person?”
Sexual harassment is something that should never be tolerated or ignored. In this instance, you should advise the hiring panel that you would immediately report the offender to the HR Department.
They might ask whether you would try and appease the situation yourself. The answer to this is “No”. It can be very easy for someone to pretend they are only joking and didn’t mean any harm and, in doing so, it can be easy for the victim to feel as though they are overreacting.
There’s simply no grey area here. Whether it’s yourself or someone else who has been sexually harassed, you would report it and let the correct processes take place.
Question 31: “How Would You Deal With A Coworker Making Racist Comments Or Jokes?”
You should also answer this question by saying that you would report the offender to the relevant authorities straight away.
You might think about informing them that their comments or jokes are totally inappropriate before doing so, but the only way they will really get the point is to get properly disciplined for their behavior.
Question 32: “How Would You Deal With An Order That Goes Against Your Own Moral Judgement?”
This can be a tricky question to answer and, ultimately, it will depend on what the order you’ve received is. However, as a new firefighter in a dangerous situation, you may have no choice but to act now and think later.
In this case, it would be a good idea to answer this question by saying that you would follow the order if you believed that it would help the situation and ensure that everybody was kept safe.
After the event, you might then consider reporting the order to a higher authority and allowing them to determine whether or not the right course of action was taken.
Question 33: “How Would You Deal With An Order That Could Put You In Great Danger?”
The first thing you should say when answering this question is that you’re fully aware of how dangerous firefighting is. To this end, you’re aware that you’ll find yourself following orders that put you in great danger.
However, you would back this answer up by saying that you would evaluate certain safety precautions before following the order. For instance, you would make sure that you’re wearing the correct safety gear and that you’ve got the right firefighting equipment on you.
You can also say that if you had any doubts about the safety of the order, you would ask your superior officer to clarify. If they give the same order, the team work aspect and the experience of your superior officer would be enough to reassure you that the order is safe.
You might get a follow up question here of “Would you ever refuse an order?” You might think that this is a trick question but there’s only one suitable answer to it - yes, you would refuse an order.
However, you would only do this if you fully believe that the situation you’ll be facing is an obvious threat to your life and the lives of your fellow firefighters.
Question 34: “How Would You Respond To A Question That You Don’t Know The Answer To?”
This is another question that might seem like you’re being tricked but, in fact, the answer is very simple. You would tell the hiring panel that if you didn’t know the answer, you would ask. It’s really that simple!
Now, this might make it seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. However, the way the hiring panel for a Fire Department will look at this is that you would rather be certain of what you’re doing than potentially cause harm.
This answer will also show the hiring panel that you aren’t shy when it comes to asking for help and that you’re keen to learn how to do things correctly.
What’s more, it shows that you’re willing to expand your knowledge about the job without being forced to do so. This shows that you’re serious about becoming a firefighter and, as such, you’d be a valuable asset to the team.
Question 35: “Tell Us About A Time You Disagreed With Your Boss. How Did You Handle The Situation?”
It’s best to call on personal experience again, here. Think back to a time when you faced the situation in question and try to remember how you rectified things.
Were you able to come to a compromise by sitting down and talking things through? Or did you have to escalate things to an HR Department?
Neither of these is the wrong answer. If you were able to sit down and sort things out calmly and collaboratively, you’ll show that you’re an excellent team player.
If you have to take things up a notch, you’ll show that you’re professional and that you understand how to follow the correct procedures.
Question 36: “How Do You Handle Stressful Situations?”
Firefighting is one of the most stressful careers in the world, so you’ll need to be able to handle stressful situations incredibly well. When you’re asked this question, we’d recommend revisiting your hobbies answer.
Explain to the interviewer how you’re aware that firefighting is stressful work and that to relax and calm your mind after a stressful few shifts, you turn to your hobbies. You should also explain how you use exercise as a way to combat stress.
This will show that you’re aware of its natural stress-fighting benefits and that you’re keeping yourself fit enough to do the job.
Question 37: “How Do You Handle Criticism?”
Even if you can’t stand being criticized, you should tell the interviewer that you handle criticism well.
The reason for this is because you’ll be faced with many difficult situations where you may not do the tasks as well as your superior officer would expect. This is especially true when you first start your firefighter training.
The best answer here is to say something along the lines of “I understand that I’ll be learning new things every day and, as such, the criticism I might receive will all be constructive in helping me do the job properly and safely”.
Question 38: “What Have You Done To Prepare For This Job?”
This is another opportunity for you to tell the hiring panel everything you’ve done in the lead up to being invited to this interview. Tell them about any courses you’ve taken and qualifications you’ve received in order to help you become a firefighter.
Be sure to tell them if you’re a volunteer firefighter as well. This will show them that you’re serious about following this career path and that you’ve already gained some skills to help you achieve your dream.
Question 39: “What Have You Done To Prepare For This Interview?”
This might seem like a similar question to the above, but it’s actually quite different. Here, the hiring panel doesn’t want to hear about your skills and experience. They want to know the research you’ve done on the Fire Department.
Preparation is key here. Head to the Fire Department’s website and research them thoroughly. You can print off some pages and highlight certain sections that you can call back on when this question comes up.
This might be some information about the station itself or a list of awards and accomplishments they’ve achieved.
The ultimate goal here is to show the hiring panel that you’ve prepared for your interview by doing your homework. They’ll find this far more impressive than a candidate showing up and thinking they can wing it!
Question 40: “What Is The Primary Goal Of This Fire Department?”
This is something else that you’ll be able to find out by visiting the Fire Department’s website ahead of your interview. Within their pages, they will likely have some information about what they are setting out to achieve.
However, if they don’t, there is a fairly simple answer to this question that would impress most Fire Department hiring panels. Tell them that you believe their goal is to keep the citizens that they serve safe while upholding the highest moral standards.
This might seem like a bit of a beauty pageant answer but, when you boil everything down to its simplest form, this is exactly what the job of a firefighter is.
Question 41: “What Do You Believe The Job Of A Firefighter Is?”
Again, you might feel as though things are getting a bit ‘pageant-y’ here, but this is your opportunity to tell the hiring panel everything that you believe the job of a firefighter involves.
Sure, it’s about putting out fires, rescuing people from RTAs, and freeing people from dangerous situations. But it’s also about giving people hope that, if they do find themselves in dire circumstances, they can get the help they need in just a few minutes.
Question 42: “What Do You Think The Role Of A Firefighter Is Within This City / District?”
This is where you get to tie your two previous answers together. Explain to the hiring panel that you believe the role of a firefighter within this city / district is to act as a beacon of hope for the citizens while upholding the moral code of the Fire Department you represent.
Question 43: “What Would You Bring To This Job If You Were Hired?”
This question is a staple of all job interviews, and firefighting is no exception. However, one thing that you don’t want to do is start selling multiple ideas about yourself.
Instead, focus on one or two specifics that you know you’re particularly good at and that the hiring panel will find appealing.
For instance, perhaps one of your strengths is public speaking. This would be a good skill when it comes to visiting schools and giving talks, or for informing citizens about an incident that’s taken place.
Or, maybe you have received a qualification in mechanics. This shows the interview panel that you would be a valuable asset to the Fire Department in case anything with an engine fails!
Question 44: “Tell Us What You Know About This Fire Department”
Again, this is where you’ll need to do some pre-interview research. Scour the Fire Department's website and look through old news stories.
Focus on the history of the station, how many people it employs, and how many successful missions they’ve had. Put simply, the more you can find out the better!
One thing that you mustn’t do, however, is to focus on anything bad. The hiring panel doesn't want to hear about any past mishaps or failings. Keep it light, act as though you're impressed by everything the department has accomplished, and you’ll have a happy hiring panel!
Question 45: “What Do You Think Are The Most Important Attributes Of A Firefighter?”
This might seem like a fairly simple question but it’s surprisingly easy to get wrong. This is because it’s easy to overthink it and, instead of giving reasons as to why a certain attribute is important, they’ll just list a bunch of skills.
The best thing to do here is to follow an attribute-reason formula. For instance, you know that a firefighter has to be physically fit. The reason for this is because they’ll be facing dangerous situations that involve running, crawling, and lifting.
You might also want to explain that you believe compassion is another important attribute a firefighter should have. The reason for this is so they are able to speak with the people they are rescuing and reassure them that they are going to be ok.
Question 46: “What Do you Think The Role Of A Rookie Firefighter Is?”
The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. As a rookie, you’re there to learn how to become a qualified firefighter.
Now, this answer on its own is perfectly suitable.
However, if you want to really impress, you can explain how you believe that a rookie firefighter should take every available opportunity to learn as much as they can by asking questions, picking up extra shifts, and generally getting as involved as possible.
This will show the interview panel that you’re serious about becoming a firefighter.
Question 47: “Have You Ever Been In An Emergency Situation?”
You need to be honest here. If you’ve never been in an emergency situation there’s no point in pretending that you have. If you do, the chances are that there will be some follow up questions later at some point that you won’t know how to answer.
You might be wondering why you’d be asked this question. Well, it actually acts as a bit of a gateway into further questioning. It also gives you the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind becoming a firefighter.
Whether you were a victim or a bystander, perhaps the actions that the firefighters on the scene took inspired you to follow this career path.
Question 48: “What Do You Think The Day-To-Day Activities & Responsibilities Of A Firefighter Are?”
This is a question that a surprising number of candidates fail. You might think that the responsibilities of a firefighter are limited to fighting fires and attending RTAs. However, this is just one aspect of the job. Firefighters are responsible for many different tasks.
They help maintain the safety standards of their station, they attend schools to educate children about fire safety, and they inspect new buildings to make sure the fire regulations are up to standard.
Include these examples in your answer, along with the more obvious tasks, and you'll appear to the hiring panel as though you have a very good idea of what the job entails.
Question 49: “What Sort Of Formal Education Do You Have?”
While you don’t need to hold a Ph.D. to become a firefighter, you will need to have a GED. Take this certificate with you to your interview as your proof and as a way of answering this question.
You should also take any other certificates that you’ve received from extra courses you’ve taken in your bid to become a firefighter.
Question 50: “What Have You Done Since High School?”
This might seem like another trick question but it’s not. The hiring panel will want to hear what you’ve been doing with your life ever since you graduated from high school for many reasons.
First and foremost, they’ll want to know what courses you’ve attended that can help you strengthen your chances of getting the job.
They’ll also want to know if you took a year to work things out before settling on your career path, or if you took a year to go explore the world before you settled down.
There aren’t really any wrong answers to this question as long as you can back it up with reasoning. The one thing you should avoid, however, is saying “I did nothing” and leave it at that. This doesn’t exactly show that you’re motivated to become a firefighter.
Question 51: Do You Have Any Questions For Us?”
Right at the end of the interview, you’ll have an opportunity to ask the hiring panel any questions you might have about the role, the Fire Department, or anything else. Make sure you take full advantage of this situation.
If you say you haven’t got any questions it can seem as though you’re not completely interested in the position.
Some suitable questions to ask might include “How many firefighters does this station currently employ?”, “Is there room for progression?”, and “How do the shift patterns work?”.
Consider this as your guide to getting your feet on the first step of the firefighter’s career path. While you won’t be asked every single one of these questions, you will definitely be asked some of them.
It’s all about preparation.
Go in knowing what you’re going to say, and you’ll seem confident, capable, and like the ideal candidate.