Chief’s Oral Interview

I just sat on my department’s Chief’s Interviews as one of two assigned to the panel. Here are some thoughts:

We did not ask any situational interview questions, as we were more concerned with getting to know the candidates.

We asked big picture questions like:

  • Why do you want to be a firefighter?
  • Why do you want to work for our department?
  • Tell us about your education, experience and how that has prepared you to become a firefighter.
  • Are you on any other lists? What if you were working for us and they called you, would you leave?
  • What if you were working for them and we called you, would you leave?
  • How would you rate your mechanical ability?
  • Tell us about your physical fitness routine.

We also asked specific questions about the candidate’s resume. For example, if a candidate listed that he or she had completed a class in building construction, attended a basic fire academy we asked a question about basic building construction.

An example of a building question would be:

  • Tell us the difference between lightweight and conventional construction.
  • What do you call the horizontal support member over a window or a door?

By the time a candidate reaches the Chief’s Interview he or she should be dialed in and ready to get hired. We don’t expect any loose ends such as expired EMT or unfinished courses.

Not bringing a resume is a grave error. If the department allows you to bring a resume, bring it. Actually bring three copies as there will usually be more than one person on the panel. Ideally you have already attached it to your application so I can review it before you walk in the door.

Make certain your resume is free of errors and looks professional. This is our first impression of you. Any misspellings, grammatical or formatting errors give us a poor first impression.

It’s a shame if you are unprepared and do not capitalize on your opportunity. It always amazes me how unprepared candidates are for this incredible opportunity to reach their goal. Here’s the bottom line, if you do well I am going to hire you. If not you will be placed back on the list and you have squandered your opportunity.

Getting to the Chief’s Interview is an incredible accomplishment. Not getting the badge because you were unprepared for your interview is a huge disappointment. Capitalize on your opportunity!