Tips for Answering Firefighter Interview Questions

Fireman Gazing Over his Shoulder

Cavan Images/Getty Images

For firefighter job interviews, you can anticipate being asked targeted questions to determine if you have the interests, personal qualities, and skills that match the specific job requirements.

What the Interviewer Wants to Know

In addition to knowing why you want the job, the interviewer will assess your qualifications to determine if you're a match for what the employer isseeking in the candidates they hire.

You will also be asked general questions about your strengths, weaknesses, communication, and interpersonal skills to assess whether you would fit in with other members of the squad.

Be Prepared to Share Your Skills

When you’re applying for jobs, list the specific firefighter / EMT skills that would be required in the position and highlight these keywords in your resume and cover letter.

 Then, be prepared to describe, in detail, your command of these firefighter skills during your interview. The job announcement is your best guide as to what skills to focus on; frequently required skills include traits such as strong situational awareness and decision-making skills, leadership, clear communications, and physical stamina.

Interview Practice and Preparation

Practice Answering Common Interview Questions

Preparation is the key to any successful interview. Review the list of frequently asked interview questions for firefighters below and practice delivering answers with a friend, counselor, or in front of a mirror.

Often interviewers will ask you competency-based interview questionsthat will require that you provide answers based on your previous work or training experience.

The point of these questions is to gauge how you addressed common workplace challenges in the past. How you respond and the tone of voice you use in answering will suggest to the interviewer how you would probably behave as part of their firefighting team.

Use the STAR Interview Technique

One tried-and-true way to respond to such questions is to use the STAR interview response method. In this technique, you describe a past Situation, outline the Task or challenge involved, explain the Action(s) you took, and conclude with a short account of the Result(s) of this action.

Prepare Stories to Share

Say, for example, that you were asked, “Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision in a very short amount of time. How did you handle the situation?” Here’s how to answer this using the STAR interview response method.

I’ve been a volunteer firefighter with Johnson County District 8 for the last five years. It’s just part of the job that sometimes you have to make quick decisions, just hoping that you’ve made the best call based on your training and experience. Sometimes you’ll be called to a fire where it simply isn’t clear whether it’s safe to enter the building. Everything come down to your level of situational awareness.

When this happens, I quickly ask myself whether the benefits of my actions are worth the risks. During a recent small house fire, it initially looked like it would be safe to enter the building. The structure was only partially engulfed, and the residents had all gotten out. I stopped our team from entering, focusing on attacking the fire from outside. Five minutes later, there was a dangerous explosion.

Think of concrete examples demonstrating how you have applied the related skills/personal qualities to your advantage in academic, volunteer, and work roles, and be prepared to share them with the interviewer.

  Firefighter Interview Questions

  • Why are you interested in working as a firefighter?
  • You have seen the job description. Which of the firefighting responsibilities would be most challenging for you?
  • Describe any examples of your presentations to groups. Have you given any fire safety talks?
  • What are the keys to preventing fires in public buildings?
  • How would you describe your mechanical abilities? Give me some examples of when you have fixed things.
  • Do you have experience as a volunteer firefighter? If so, how did this experience prepare you for this position?
  • What do you believe are essential qualities in a firefighter?
  • Describe a time when you had to solve a problem as a group. How did working with a group help you solve the problem?
  • Tell me about a time when you used your communication skills to make a difference in a situation.
  • Describe a time when you had to persuade a reluctant person to take a particular course of action.
  • Tell me about a time that you worked outside of your job profile to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a time that you served as a leader of a group.
  • Give me an example of a situation when you saw someone in distress and helped him.
  • Tell me about the most stressful job you ever held. How did you handle the stress?
  • Have you ever been in an emergency situation? What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you helped handle a conflict between two of your colleagues.
  • What is your routine for maintaining physical fitness?
  • What are you currently doing to improve your knowledge and skills for firefighting?
  • What would you do if a superior asked you to carry out an order which was outside departmental protocols?