Common Interview Questions

Tony Vitalie


Below is a list of some questions you may encounter on a typical entry level oral board:

Please prioritize the following in order of importance to you: Career, Family, Friends.

Suppression, Prevention and Public Education, rank them in order of importance in the Fire Service and explain your reasoning.

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?

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?

Tell us about a mistake you've made in your past and what you learned from that mistake.

What have you done to prepare for this interview?

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?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

Why do you want to be a firefighter?

Why do you want to be a firefighter for the City of _______?

What is the most appealing aspect of being a firefighter?

What is the least appealing aspect of being a firefighter?

What do you consider to be your strongest asset? your weakest?

Why would you be a good firefighter?

Give an example in which you had to work as part of a team in order to achieve a common goal.

What is the advantage of working in teams?

Why is teamwork so important in the fire service?

How do you and your family feel about you working 24 (or 48) hour shifts?

What makes you think you would be able to deal with the stresses of being a firefighter?

How have you prepared yourself to remain calm and react effectively at emergency scenes?

Give an example of a time which you were faced with an emergency situation.
Explain the circumstances and your actions.

What kinds of personal conflicts/problems might arise in a firehouse and what could you do to minimize such problems?

What personality traits do you possess that make you feel you would be a good firefighter?

If hired what would you give to our department?

What are some of the important traits a firefighter must possess?

What is the most important trait a firefighter must possess?

How could you help maintain good relations around the firehouse?

What is a typical daily routine in a firehouse?

What will you do with your spare time while on duty?

What duties does a firefighter perform?

What is the most essential duty a firefighter performs?

What type of person would you find it most difficult to work with?

Would you ever disobey an order?

When would you disobey an order?

What do you know about the city of ________?

What do you know about the organizational structure of the ____ Fire Department?

What are your hobbies and/or interests?

Define harassment/sexual harassment.

What would you do if you were witness to someone being sexually harassed/harassed?

Have you ever been directly or indirectly or known someone who was involved in a sexual harassment/harassment dispute? What were the circumstances?

Honesty and Integrity, define them and why are they important in the fire service?

Pride and Loyalty, define them and why are they important in the fire service?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of similar groups vs. diverse groups of people when working as a team?

What do you think the future holds for the fire service?

Where do you see the fire service going (how do you see it changing) in the next 5-10 years?

If we were to contact your present or former employer, what would be one negative point they might raise about you?

Are you currently on any other fire department eligibility list?

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?

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?

Many interview questions will begin with “Give an example of a time you_____? Even when questions do not directly ask you to site 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 to you. It gives a human element to you as a candidate and for most people it is easier to talk about first hand experiences, which can make your response more authentic and more interesting as well.

Some interviewers like to start with open ended questions such as, "Tell us about your self". This is common in non-structured chief’s interviews.

Most interviews will end in such a way as to allow you to ask any questions and/or give a closing statement. It is not recommended to ask any questions, but you can give a brief closing statement, which emphasizes your abilities and confidence and/or willingness to learn.


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. If it is a question you have never given any thought to this is important. Also if it is a question you have gone over in your head many times, pausing and collecting yourself before responding can help your answer seem unrehearsed.

Here are two of the most unique questions that 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 that they can think of.


All of these questions would be asked as "What would you do, If__" (WWYD), Questions.

For weeks you notice that someone has been eating your cereal and drinking the milk that you bring in. You have already asked everyone to please not do so and have even began labeling your food. One morning you walk into the kitchen and Senior Firefighter Bob is helping himself to the last of your milk and cereal. WWYD?

While shopping for groceries duty a citizen approaches you and asks why his tax dollars are paying for you to hang out and shop at the grocery store. He is obviously very upset and angry. WWYD?

While on scene at a medical aid you are asked to go back to the Engine to get a piece of equipment. In route to the Engine you notice that its placement is blocking traffic. Traffic is backing up and an irate citizen is yelling for you to move the Engine. You are not the Engineer. WWYD?

You suspect a fellow firefighter has a drug problem. WWYD?

You see a fellow firefighter slip an expensive watch into his turnout coat during overhaul. WWYD?

During the final exam of your probationary academy you see two fellow recruits exchanging answers. WWYD?

Your Captain orders you to get him a radio from the engine, one the way the Battalion Chief stops you and asks you to deliver an axe to the team on the roof right away. WWYD?

You feel a fellow firefighter is not pulling their weight when it comes to station chores. WWYD?

Your shift Captain clearly delegates much more work to you then to the other firefighters on the shift who are consequently all off duty drinking buddies. WWYD?

You are assigned a task that you strongly feel is unsafe. WWYD?

You and another recruit are assigned duties together, but you continually end up doing all the work. WWYD?

You are having dinner at the firehouse and someone makes a comment which you find personally offensive. WWYD?

If the department is requiring a FF or EMT certification, they may ask situational questions which are fire or EMS related. Be prepared.

For more interview tips please read “The Fire Service Interview”, which can be found on our articles page.

If you have any questions you have been asked, and would like to add them to this list, please e-mail them to cfs@firerecruit.com.