By Battalion Chief Michael Keefe
In preparation for your next interview consider this – you should already know most of
the questions you’ll be asked. Let’s break this down. Most interviews average about 30 minutes and total 5 to 7 questions. Be certain you will get a general “tell us about you” question, a few probing questions, a situational question and possibly a
concluding question. The opening questions could include “Why do you want to be a firefighter?”, “What have you done to prepare yourself to be a firefighter?” or “Why do you think you would be a good firefighter?”
Your answers to these “tell us about yourself” questions make up your opening statement and it sets the tone for the interview. In order to develop your opening statement you must spend some time developing the items you want to include. Your opening statement should absolutely be your most solid answer of the interview. Trust me, members of the interview panel wait in hopeful anticipation that something genuine and meaningful is going to come out of your mouth. Your opening statement is the ice breaker, make it powerful.
A strong opening statement is a strategic description of your background that focuses on the key events in your education, work experience, fire related experience, community service and life experience. To get started, make a list of the words that best define who you are and what life experiences illustrate your character and readiness. You must practice this opening statement again and again until it flows naturally. It must be concise but loaded with essentials that define and separate you
from the others. Some candidates will focus on their fire related experience, others their work experience. The best answers follow a logical order of events, include personal experiences, difficult or life shaping events, character building situations, significant
work experience, education and significant related training.
Your interview is your one and only opportunity to tell about your “footprint” in life – who you are, why you would be the one we want to bring on our team for the next 30 years. Successful candidates often don’t have the biggest resume, but they are able to articulate who they are and why they will work harder then anyone else.
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