| Chief's Tip of the Month
The Days Leading Up to Your Interview
by Dean Guccione - May 1, 2020
As many of you know, your firefighter oral interview can be a little nerve-racking because becoming a full-time, professional firefighter is your goal; it’s your dream, and you know it will change your life. And it’s okay to be a little nervous. You wouldn’t be nervous if you didn’t care, right?
However, your overall goal is to be able to think clearly, so you can communicate the best possible responses to each question. My tip this month will help you calm your nerves and help get you organized and focused for your upcoming oral interview. If you are having a video interview, you can obviously skip the section about your resume and making sure your car in ready to go.
I want you to make a list of things you need to do before your interview; a week before, a few days before, the day before, and the day of your interview. This is so you won’t be as nervous and distracted because you forgot to do something important.
- Be sure that your resume is all squared away the day before, or even a few days before your big day. Double check to make sure it’s up to date and that there are no spelling errors. Be sure your contact info is correct. Bring 9 copies with you in a nice portfolio and ask the panel members if they are taking updated resumes. This should be the only document you bring to your interview. I’ve heard of up to 9 members being on certain fire department panels. The average is 3 to 4 panel members. Be prepared and have enough copies for the largest possible number of panelists.
- Lay out your suit or your clothes that you plan to wear a week ahead of time. Try them on and make sure everything looks and fits well. Do this so that if you have issues, you can get it taken care of in plenty of time. You may need to replace your shirt or belt, etc. If your suit needs to be cleaned or pressed, the day before is not the time to figure this out. If you need to have it dry cleaned, handle that at least a week or two before your interview. Some dry cleaners take up to 5 or 6 days. Check it when you get it back and put it back in the plastic until the day before your interview.
- Another item that gets overlooked is your car. The last thing you want to have happen is car trouble. A few days before your interview check the engine oil and other fluids. Be sure you have enough gas to get to your interview the day before. Also check your tire pressure. I’ve had a number of candidates run late and cancel their interview because they were having car trouble; or they had to stop for gas. They didn’t allow enough time to get gas before their interview. How sad is it to miss the opportunity to have the job of your dreams simply because you ran out of gas? Take care of all of these car items a few days before, and top off your gas the day before so you can focus on your interview.
- Do not drink alcohol the night before your interview and have a minimal amount of caffeine the morning of. You need to be rested and focused for your interview and getting a good night’s sleep is a major part of that. The last thing you want to happen is being hungover the morning that could be the biggest day of your life. Also, if you work for another department and you’re scheduled to work the 24 hours prior to your interview, consider taking a vacation day the day before. This is so you can be properly rested and able to take care of these last-minute items without being rushed or stressed.
- Know where you are required to park and be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Know how long it will take to walk from your car to the interview site. Also, be sure to account for traffic and leave your house accordingly. Always check the traffic on your phone and leave extra early if you see accidents or road construction on your route. I advise to plan for twice the amount of travel time you need…if not more. Remember, if you’re early – you’re on time. If you’re on time – you’re late.
- Lastly, if you can, do a moderate workout the morning of your interview. Be mindful not to work out so hard that you’re spent when they call you into the room. If you’re spent, you won’t have the energy to think clearly. You’ll be tired. They want to see your passion and enthusiasm and being overly tired will hinder that. A 20-minute run will help you clear your head. The mild exercise naturally calms your nerves. Be sure to eat a light meal a couple of hours before you arrive. What you choose to eat may come back to bite you while you’re answering questions, if you eat too much or eat something to rich/spicy. Your brain needs energy to perform, which is why a light meal is best.
These may seem like basic things, but I’ve seen so many candidates make some or a combination of all of these mistakes prior to their interview and then miss out on the opportunity of their lives. All because they weren’t organized and because they did things at the last minute, or didn’t do them at all, like having enough gas in their car.
If you create a list of all of these items to do and check them off a week before, a couple of days before, a day before and the day of your interview, your focus will then be on the task at hand, and that’s killing it in your interview. Put these items on your calendar with reminders. You’ll be focused on your answers, as opposed to worrying about traffic or car trouble. You may even add a few things to the list. Either way, it will give you comfort and reduce your nerves because all these items will be handled. And in this way, you can ensure you can have the best oral interview of your life!
Be safe out there!
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