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4 strong ways to end a firefighter job interview

Here’s a look at what to avoid and what to do to ensure you leave the interview panel with a strong last impression


The fire interview is by far the most important step of the entire hiring process.

Photo/City of Knoxville

“How should I end my interview?” It’s a question I’ve gotten from several candidates.

The firefighter interview is by far the most important step of the entire hiring process. Your chances of getting hired live and die in those precious minutes. No matter how well you think you did, if you don’t end it properly all your hard work goes right out the window.

Let’s look at a few principles for ending the interview properly. There’s an old thought out there that candidates or rookies are only to speak when spoken to and nothing more. Thankfully, that line of thinking is going away.

Remember, this panel wants to get to know you, and I have a hard time believing that if you include a sentence or two of genuine gratitude and appreciation that they will find it off putting or irritating in any way. However, the panel isn’t looking for a closing monologue.

I recommend against a traditional closing statement, but some seem to think it is still a good idea. The panel has just spent the last 20 minutes or so getting to know you; I don’t see a whole lot of sense in recapping everything you’ve talked about.

That being said, if you decide to end with a closing statement, limit it to a few sentences at most. Use something along the lines of: “Thank you all very much for your time. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to interview in front of you today. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

It’s short, appreciative, to the point and respectful. So, should you ask questions at the end of the interview? The answer is yes and no.

If the panel doesn’t ask you if you have any questions for them (I’d be surprised if they didn’t), then no. That would be the perfect time to stand up, thank them for their time and leave.

More than likely after the panel has completed the interview they will ask you if you have any questions for them. It’s important you get these right.

During your preparation for the interview, come up with two or three genuine questions for them. And with these questions there are a few guidelines.

1. Do not ask about money.

Under no circumstances should ask about money, vacation, time off, benefits, bonuses and perks of the job or anything that can be misinterpreted as you applying to the job for the wrong reasons.

2. Do come prepared with two questions.

This makes you look interested, engaged and eager to learn more about their department.

3. Do not try to be funny or make any jokes.

You don’t need to be a robot, but this is certainly not the time for comedy. Remember your goal is to look professional the entire time.

4. Do ask questions that show your interest and ambition.

These questions should at least hint at a few things like that you’re interested in working for their department, you want to learn more, you want to expand your role beyond the minimum requirements, and you’re confident in yourself and your ability to be an asset to their department

If you’re anything like me, I learn best from examples. Feel free to craft your own questions from those guidelines, but here are some of the exact questions I used. It’s a good idea to use the exact name of their department in your questioning.

  • What does the new cadet training program consist of?
  • Does the fire department encourage their firefighters to further their education through courses offered at the fire academy?
  • What community outreach programs does the fire department participate in?
  • What is the relationship like between the fire department and the community?

  • Does the fire department encourage firefighters to go to paramedic school (if that’s not one of the job requirements)?

These questions fit all the guidelines. They don’t mention anything about perks, money or time off. They don’t make you look like you are trying to be funny.

Most importantly, they show that you’re interested in finding out more about their particular department and furthering your knowledge and responsibility within that department.

Finally, my last bit of advice would be to watch how many questions you ask. While asking great, inquisitive questions can make you stand out as a candidate, too many questions can put the panel on the defensive.

Remember, you’re the interviewee, not them. I always stuck to a maximum of two questions.

If you can end the interview properly, it will make you stand out far more than most.

After an injury ended his professional soccer career, Mike Pertz enrolled in an EMT class and soon became hooked on the fire service. Now, he’s a career firefighter and paramedic with the Avon Lake (Ohio) Fire Department. Pertz holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in communications, and founded, a site that offers free help to those looking to become firefighters. Connect with Pertz on LinkedIn or via email.