Fire Service Promotional Oral Interview: Acing It (Part 2)

Passing your firefighter promotional oral interview is key to getting promoted. Some may think you don’t need to spend any of your firefighter promotional exam prep time preparing for your oral interview, but you must if you want to get promoted in the fire service. Here’s what to do.

  1. Tell Us About Yourself

The first question that is asked during most interviews, “tell us about yourself”. This question may seem easy as you should know yourself, but they are looking for more information than what is on your resume. This is your opportunity to tell them things about yourself that you have not put on paper. Now saying that, you do want to include your education and job history. Include skills and awards you may have that are not on your resume, as well as volunteer work. Don’t forget to make it personal, tell them you are a third generation firefighter who is just as passionate about the job as your relatives before you were. Don’t give them your entire life story, but give them relevant and interesting information about yourself that shows your love of your career and the skills you have to do the job. I cannot stress this enough, write it out and practice because I can guarantee they will ask you this question. 

  1. Answer the Question Fully

When answering a question be sure to give a complete answer. One of the hardest parts of an oral interview is finding the balance between being too short with your answer and rambling on. Do not give the bare minimum, if they ask you to list three weaknesses, don’t just list the three weaknesses, expand on them and tell them why. Giving examples as to the why behind your answer is a great way to give a more detailed answer without rambling on. Be aware of your interviewer's body language and facial expressions. Make sure the interviewers are engaged, are they making eye contact, are they nodding or are there eyes wandering because they are bored. If so, wrap it up and move on. 

  1. Know the Job You Are Applying For

It is crucial that you know every aspect of the job you are applying for. You need to act as if you are an expert on the position. At this point in the firefighter promotional process you should be an expert, but you may be nervous so go back and review the job description and information you studied for the firefighter written exam so you are sure you are knowledgeable in regards to the position you are applying for. 

  1. Anything You’d Like to Add/Any Questions?

Add and ask questions always! Be prepared with questions to ask your interviewers. This shows you are truly interested in the job. Remember: An interview is a two way process, you are interviewing them as well. It is important to engage with your interviewers and not just sit there and answer their questions. Save a fun fact about yourself for the end, or a personal story about how fire fighting has impacted your life. Some good questions to ask your interviewers are, how did they get started in the fire service? What was your favorite part about being a captain, or whatever position you are applying for? Anything that shows you are interested in them and/or the position is great.

  1. Practice

Practicing an interview is awkward, but critical. Start by practicing with someone you are comfortable with just so you can practice what you want to say. Once you have done that ask someone who makes you uncomfortable to do a mock interview with you. The more uncomfortable you are while practicing the more comfortable you will be come interview day. 

The Takeaway

The promotional oral interview in the fire service can be a nerve-wracking part of the firefighter promotional process. Try to use the oral interview as a way to get to know yourself and the job you are applying for even more than you already do. It is a great way to meet superior officers and form a new connection even if you do not get the job you are applying for.