5 tips to help you ace your fire services interview

By leahlambart
2 January 2024
Firefighter interview

I have had the pleasure of coaching hundreds of clients for fire services (and other emergency services) panel interviews for a decade and understand what it takes to be successful in these extremely competitive recruitment processes.

Although every service has a different recruitment process and format for the final interview, at the end of the day, the same key competencies are being assessed including key capabilities such as teamwork, safety-conscious, resilient, problem solving and communication.

From my coaching experience, here are my top 5 tips that will guarantee success in the final interview:

1) A deep understanding of the role of a firefighter

Understanding the firefighter role sounds pretty straightforward but there is a huge volume of information to learn before your final interview. As most firefighter candidates are aware, firefighters are involved in many tasks when they are not putting out fires including delivering community education programs, inspecting hazardous sites, checking fire hydrants and alarms, skills and fitness training, maintenance & cleaning of equipment & appliances, community engagement and much more.

An understanding of the firefighter role also includes a knowledge and awareness of the challenges and stresses that are likely to be encountered when performing the firefighter role. This doesn’t just include a list of the different challenges and stresses but also demonstrating to the panel that they have considered the potential downside of the role and have discussed it with their partner, family etc and still made a conscious decision to apply.

2) A deep understanding of the fire service you are applying for

Successful firefighter candidates can also demonstrate an extensive knowledge of the fire service itself whether it is FRV, QFES, NSWFS, TFS or DFES. This includes a detailed knowledge of the fire service rank structure, the fire recruitment program, community programs, diversity & inclusion policies and the specific values of that organisation.

In my experience, reading the website and other materials is a great start but nothing beats multiple conversations with firefighters and station visits. The panel will be able to see which candidates have put in the extra time and effort as their depth of knowledge will shine through in the interview by using specific examples and by using the correct terminology.

3) Self-awareness and authenticity

Most importantly I believe that successful candidates need to demonstrate a good knowledge about themselves. This means that they can clearly articulate to the panel what is motivating them to join the fire service and the real reasons that they want to become a firefighter. They can describe their key strengths (and not just cookie-cutter strengths), transferable skills, attributes/ personal qualities and most importantly their personal values and how these align with the fire service.

Demonstrating self-awareness and authenticity is important in the final interview. The panel are recruiting candidates who can engage authentically with our diverse community, be approachable and have the ability to take feedback and instructions from superiors. Be yourself and let the panel see who you really are as a person.

4) Structuring your responses correctly

Fire services panel interviews require a solid understanding of behavioural interviewing techniques and structuring responses using the ‘STAR’ or ‘STARLA’ method (depending on the state in which you are applying for). In my coaching sessions, I have worked with many clients who have been unsuccessful in past fire services interviews because they have not used this technique correctly. This is a tricky technique to learn, but once you understand the method and what the panel are listening out for in your responses then it just takes practise to succeed.

5) Start preparing early

In my experience coaching for these interviews, successful candidates take their preparation very seriously and, in most cases, start their preparation long before the application process opens. They are organising station visits, practising aptitude tests and starting to work on their interview technique months before the interview. These interviews are very difficult even for those with previous interview experience so if you are someone who has never interviewed previously or have not experienced preparing for behavioural interviews, then do yourself a favour and start early.

TESTIMONIALS – here are some testimonials from happy clients below:

“I recently engaged Leah to help me prepare for the Fire Rescue Victoria selection interview. She was a wealth of knowledge and and help me draw from my experiences/skills to develop quality responses to potential questions that may arise during the interview. I never thought I would progress through this stage but Leah instilled confidence in me and I was successful in the interview. Thanks Leah!”
Damian Mohan, FRV December 2023

“I recently completed the interview process for Fire & Rescue NSW, Leah helped me at detail with the format, question styles and how to approach the whole process. I resulted in a successful interview which can largely be attributed to her guidance and coaching. Highly recommend her for any interview coaching.”
Jordan Lloyd, FRV, November 2023

“Leah is amazing. Leah has great experience and has given me great direction. Very professional and has helped me achieve what I have achieved. Thank you!”
Sonny Bresolin, QFES April 2023

“Leah is incredible!!! If you are not prepared for an interview, coming to do a 1 on 1 with Leah is vital. If you think you are prepared for an interview I would still come to see Leah. She has many many years experience and expertise in this area. I can not recommend highly enough that you book in with Leah if your dream job is just an interview away. I’ve been applying to get into the fire service for many years and after sessions with Leah I felt confident and prepared for any style question they could ask. After doing sessions with Leah you’ll stand out and be miles ahead of your competition. Thank you soo much Leah.”
Aaron Guttek, FRNSW Jan 2022

If you are interested in working with an interview coach to help you start your fire services interview preparation, then contact Leah Lambart, Career & Interview Coach, through the Relaunch Me website or on 0413 558 758 to discuss how I may be able to assist you.

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