Firefighter Interview 650 x 329Interviews will ultimately rank the Firefighter candidates. Of course you have to pass the written exam and basic physical agility test before you get to move on to the interview process, but once there, your ultimate success will be determined by your performance in the firefighter interviews.

There are three basic firefighter interviews you can expect during the hiring process and your progression to each subsequent one is determined by passing the previous one. The three critical firefighter interviews are the personnel interview, the background interview and the Chief’s interview.


Firefighter job interviewYour initial firefighter interview is usually the personnel interview. The personnel interview is typically a panel interview of two to four people, usually a combination of Fire Service personnel and Human Resources personnel.

This personnel interview is governed by Civil Service rules, so it is extremely structured and objective with little or no follow up questions. You will be ranked based on your initial answers and how well you communicate and present yourself.

There are very specific tips, techniques and strategies that can drastically improve your score on this interview. This personnel firefighter interview can be considered the most important, because it determines your place on the initial list, which if not high enough, can preclude you from ever reaching the other firefighter interviews.


Fire Dept backgroung InvestigationDependent on the successful ranking on your personnel interview, the next firefighter interview you will usually participate in is the background interview.

The firefighter background interviews are typically performed by department arson officers and are part of an overall firefighter background investigation. These firefighter interviews are far more subjective and will include many follow up questions in an attempt to determine your level of honesty and ethical standing. This is usually a pass/fail interview.

The firefighter background interviews can be vast in their scope and can make you feel like you are under a microscope and being judged, which you are. These background interviews are meant to weed out candidates with problematic or questionable pasts or those who do not meet the highest expected standards of the profession.

Some of the possible disqualifying criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • certain criminal convictions
  • past or current illegal drug use
  • current poor credit (varies by department)
  • falsifying information on your application, background packet or other documentation
  • lying during your firefighter interviews.

Specific disqualifying criteria vary by department. Additionally, some departments also employ a polygraph session into their background investigation. Tips, techniques and strategies to approach this firefighter interview does vary from the previous personnel interview.


Fire Department Chief Collar BrassAfter passing your background interview, the final firefighter interview is usually the Chiefs interview. This is typically a subjective, one-on-one interview between you and the hiring Chief.

This firefighter interview may be formal or informal. Some Chiefs interviews can feel like a casual conversation between the two of you. Some Chiefs may be serious and formal while others may smile, laugh and joke with you. Either way, it is important to remember this is an interview and to remain respectful and professional.

There are certain things this firefighter interview is used to ascertain including your demeanor, your knowledge of the Department and your general fit within the organization. If you’ve made it to this firefighter interview, you are right at the finish line of this phase of the journey and about to begin the first phase of your career.

There are certain, specific things you should prepare for prior to going into your Chiefs Interview. To read more on this interview, see Chiefs Interview, What to Expect, ahead of time so you are ready for anything you might encounter.