Fire Service Promotional Oral Interview: What to Expect (Part 1)

The firefighter promotional exam process is not just a written exam, it consists of many other components, including an oral interview. It is important to focus most of your firefighter promotional exam prep on the written exam, but don’t go to your oral interview unprepared. 

Who is Doing the Interview?

The person or persons that interview you for your oral interview will vary from department to department but you can guarantee the chief of the station you are applying for will be there. It will likely be a panel of chiefs from the department that do your interview though. You can always ask beforehand who you can expect to be on the panel of interviewers. 

How Long is the Interview?

You should expect your interview to last at least fifteen minutes. You do not want to ramble on, but you do want to answer all questions fully and completely. The time is widely dependent upon the amount of questions your interviewers have for you and how many interviewers there are on the panel. 

What Will Be Asked?

  • Background Questions

  • Tell me about yourself and your career.

  • Why do you want this job?

  • How have you prepared for the position?

  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?

  • What are your career goals?

The background questions asked during an oral promotional interview are used to get to know you, as well as see how well you articulate your thoughts. Your interviewers also want to see you have a passion for being a firefighter, that this is not a job to you, it is where your loyalty lies.

  • Scenario Questions

  • As a captain how will you handle this situation?

  • How will you handle conflict among members on your crew?

The questions about handling certain situations are not going to be easy, firefighters are held to the highest standards. They may ask you how you will handle racism, sexual harassment, alcohol, or drugs among your crew members. They may ask how you will handle conflict in the station and on the scene of an incident with community members and crew members. 

  • Job Related Questions

  • When can you start?

  • What salary do you expect?

  • Can you handle working overtime?

The job related questions are just basic questions they have to ask so they know when you can start. If you are being promoted you most likely are already employed at a station and will need to give the necessary notice. It is important for your potential new employer to see that you care about your current job and aren’t just going to jump ship for this new position without the proper notice to your previous employer.  

The Takeaway

The fire service promotional oral interview is a chance for your superiors to see how articulate you are, how prepared you are, and how passionate you are. Use the oral interview as an opportunity to prove to your interviewers that you are prepared for anything and are the best person for the job. Knowing what is likely to happen during the oral interview and coming prepared is essential to decrease interview anxiety and have the best possible interview.