Tips for Successful Firefighting Panel Interviews
By Kim Alyn
Here are some essential tips for acing your panel interview and getting the job you deserve:
- No hair patches!
- Conservative jewelry
- Easy on the makeup
- Don’t marinate in perfume
- Application: What you must include
- Resume: What you want to include
- Bring 7 copies of resume and OFFER to hand them out before the interview starts
- Resume should be one page in length (exceptions for higher positions can include a four page color resume)
- Don’t include high school stuff, personal information, or unrelated information
- Don’t assume ANY of it will get read!
Beginning the Interview:
- Strong, firm handshake
- Don’t change your handshake if it’s a woman
- Pronounce names CORRECTLY and use their rank. (Chief Smith, Captain Jones)
- Ask to move the chair if needed
- LISTEN to the question thoroughly
- Pause for a moment and THINK!
- Remember: Listen, Think, Respond!
- SMILE as you begin (it’s almost always appropriate)
- Come out and answer the question and then elaborate
- Answer should be no more than 2-3 minutes in length
- Relate the question to the position
- Give an example where you can and only if it fits
- Be honest
- Be passionate about your answers
- Have a close to the question: “And that’s what leadership means to me.”
- SMILE when you’re finished!
- Video tape / record yourself doing panel interviews
- Become self-aware of your bad habits and STOP THEM!
- Practice your panel interview skills
- Show some passion and enthusiasm for the job!
- Have your opening memorized: 3-4 minutes only
- Have your closing memorized 15 seconds – 1 minute only
- Bring in your favorite quote / story (SHORT!)
- Bring out information from your resume – assume it won’t be read
- Know how you would answer a wide variety of questions, especially about YOU:
- Your strengths
- Your weaknesses
- Why you want to promote
- Why you should be selected over other candidates
- Get cocky
- Answer too quickly
- Speak too low
- Tell the panel how nervous you are
- Spin in your chair
- Name drop
- Ah and um your way through it!
- BS your way through a question
- Use slang
- Ramble on and on and on
- Ask if that’s what they were looking for or if you answered it thoroughly enough
- Turn on the water works (There’s NO CRYING IN PANEL INTERVIEWS!) – don’t even well up!
- Give a bunch of personal information in the interview
- EVER SAY “Wow, that’s a tough question…” or “Wow, that’s a great question.”
- Ask to have every question repeated – once or twice is ok.