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50 most common firefighter interview questions

Here are some common (and two uncommon) questions you may encounter on a typical entry-level oral board

This is a list of 50 questions you may encounter on a typical entry-level firefighter oral board interview. Complete the form on this page to download and print this list for practice.

  1. Please prioritize the following in order of importance to you: Career, Family, Friends.
  2. Suppression, Prevention and Public Education, rank them in order of importance in the Fire Service and explain your reasoning.
  3. Describe a difficult decision that you’ve had to make in your life. What were the circumstances and what was your decision? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Tell us about a conflict you’ve had with a co-worker or supervisor. What actions did you take to resolve this conflict? What did you learn from it? What would you do differently if the same situation arose again?
  5. Tell us about a mistake you’ve made in your past and what you learned from that mistake.
  6. What have you done to prepare for this interview?
  7. What have you done to prepare for a career in the fire service? What have you done to prepare for a career with the _______ fire department?
  8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  9. Why do you want to be a firefighter?
  10. Why do you want to be a firefighter for the City of _______?
  11. What is the most appealing aspect of being a firefighter?
  12. What is the least appealing aspect of being a firefighter?
  13. What do you consider to be your strongest asset? your weakest?
  14. Why would you be a good firefighter?
  15. Give an example in which you had to work as part of a team in order to achieve a common goal.
  16. What is the advantage of working in teams?
  17. Why is teamwork so important in the fire service?
  18. How do you and your family feel about you working 24 (or 48) hour shifts?
  19. What makes you think you would be able to deal with the stresses of being a firefighter?
  20. How have you prepared yourself to remain calm and react effectively at emergency scenes?
  21. Give an example of a time which you were faced with an emergency situation.
  22. Explain the circumstances and your actions.
  23. What kinds of personal conflicts/problems might arise in a firehouse and what could you do to minimize such problems?
  24. What personality traits do you possess that make you feel you would be a good firefighter?
  25. If hired what would you give to our department?
  26. What are some of the important traits a firefighter must possess?
  27. What is the most important trait a firefighter must possess?
  28. How could you help maintain good relations around the firehouse?
  29. What is a typical daily routine in a firehouse?
  30. What will you do with your spare time while on duty?
  31. What duties does a firefighter perform?
  32. What is the most essential duty a firefighter performs?
  33. What type of person would you find it most difficult to work with?
  34. Would you ever disobey an order?
  35. When would you disobey an order?
  36. What do you know about the city of ________?
  37. What do you know about the organizational structure of the ____ Fire Department?
  38. What are your hobbies and/or interests?
  39. Define harassment/sexual harassment.
  40. What would you do if you were witness to someone being sexually harassed/harassed?
  41. Have you ever been directly or indirectly or known someone who was involved in a sexual harassment/harassment dispute? What were the circumstances?
  42. Honesty and Integrity, define them and why are they important in the fire service?
  43. Pride and Loyalty, define them and why are they important in the fire service?
  44. What are the advantages and disadvantages of similar groups vs. diverse groups of people when working as a team?
  45. What do you think the future holds for the fire service?
  46. Where do you see the fire service going (how do you see it changing) in the next 5-10 years?
  47. If we were to contact your present or former employer, what would be one negative point they might raise about you?
  48. Are you currently on any other fire department eligibility list?
  49. What would you do if we offered you a position, and then soon after, you were offered a position with a bigger and better paying department, why would you stay?
  50. As part of the hiring process we will be doing an extensive background investigation. Is there anything in your past that you would like to discuss or explain to this panel?
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Behavioral interview questions

Many interview questions will begin with “Give an example of a time you_____?

These questions are designed to assess your past behavior in specific situations as an indicator of your future performance.

A good way to respond to behavioral interview questions is to use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result):

Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a task or faced a challenge.

Task: Explain the actual task or challenge that was involved.

Action: Detail the specific actions you took to address the task or challenge.

Result: Share the outcomes or results of your actions.

Even when questions do not directly ask you to cite an example, it is a good idea to incorporate some life or career experience into your response whenever you can. Doing so gives credibility to your answer and you. For most people, it is easier to talk about first-hand experiences, which can make your response more authentic and more interesting.

Open-ended interview questions

Some interviewers like to start with open-ended questions such as, “Tell us about yourself.” These are common in non-structured fire chief interviews, but you might face these questions in an interview to become a firefighter. Open-ended interview questions allow for detailed, longer responses and allow you to showcase your experiences, thoughts, and problem-solving abilities.

When responding to an open-ended interview question:

  • Provide specific examples: Use detailed stories from your experience to illustrate your points.
  • Stay relevant: Keep your responses focused on the skills and qualities relevant to firefighting.
  • Be honest and authentic: Show genuine insight into your motivations and actions.

Unexpected interview questions

You may encounter a question that is very unique and designed to see how well you can think on your feet. You should always be prepared for the unexpected, and sometimes off-the-wall question. Chances are you will be asked something that you will not be prepared for in every interview. Stop and think these questions through in your head before answering. There is nothing wrong with asking for a little time to think about the question before beginning your response. This goes for any question. Pondering the question gives you a moment to gather yourself and your thoughts.

Here are two of the most unique questions I have ever heard being asked at an interview. I mention them not because I think they will ever be asked again, but to give you an idea of how off-the-wall an interview question can be.

  1. Without using the word orange, describe an orange.
  2. A paper clip is placed in front of the candidate. The candidate is asked to give as many uses for the paperclip as they can think of.

Interview closing statement

Most firefighter interviews will allow you to ask any questions and make closing statement. It is not recommended to ask any questions, but you can give a brief closing statement, that emphasizes your abilities and confidence and willingness to learn.

This article, originally published on March 25, 2014, has been updated. FireRescue1 is using generative AI to create some content that is edited and fact-checked by our editors.

Fire Recruit School is your comprehensive guide to launching a successful career in firefighting. Our articles cover everything from the initial steps to becoming a firefighter, mastering the interview process, and excelling in the fire academy. Whether you are just starting out or preparing for the next stage in your journey, you’ll find expert advice, practical tips, and invaluable insights to help you succeed in this challenging and rewarding profession.