Firefighter Preparation Tip - Perception is Reality!

People are continuously forming opinions about you, based on their perception of you.

  • Perception: you are not prepared, immature, unprofessional, and you are not taking the interview process seriously. Is it true? Not necessarily - is it reality? In their eyes it is.


Suggestion to not be in the same situation: learn what it takes to be properly attired!


For men: wear a suit in a conservative color (save the mustard-colored suit for impressing the women) such as gray, navy blue, brown, or black. Go to a place like the Men's Wearhouse and you can find a good suit at a good price. Their sales people can also get you set up with dress shirts, ties, and other accessories at the same time. Wear polished dress shoes. Wear dress socks (not white socks). Wear a nice belt that matches your dress shoes. Wear a nice long-sleeve dress shirt (one color and a light color such as white or light blue). Wear a nice tie. Also, take the time to be clean-shaven, which includes no mustaches or facial hair. Yes you can argue that many firefighters have mustaches. Well, they already have a job and you're trying to get a job. Just my opinion, but eliminate the facial hair. Also, eliminate the unnecessary bling-bling jewelry; wear a nice watch and your wedding ring if you have one. Keep the puka shell necklace and fancy bracelets at home. Liberace is dead and you don't need to wear your Mr. T starter kit to an interview. Save it for impressing the ladies (which ones I'm not sure).


For women: wear a conservative dress and jacket, or a conservative business suit. When I say conservative, I mean not too revealing, not too flashy or flamboyant, one that doesn't make you look too young or too old, and one that is in appropriate neutral colors such as navy blue, black, gray, tan, etc. Wear polished dress pumps (not the four-inch high heels, or the ones with no heels). Wear nylons (as opposed to bare legs). Keep the perfume to the minimum. Keep your hair up. Stay away from excessive jewelry and heavy make-up. Do not wear clothing or accessories that make you look trashy or like you're there to pick up guys. I hope I don't need to explain what clothing that might be.

4. You show up to your oral interview and you did not bring enough resumes. You bring three resumes and there are five members on the oral board. Oops.


  • Perception: you are not prepared, unprofessional, and you are not taking the interview process seriously. Is it true? Not necessarily - is it reality? In their eyes it is.


Suggestion to not be in the same situation: always plan ahead and bring enough resumes. I've been on oral boards with up to seven raters evaluating each candidate.


Note: many oral boards will also have one person from the human resource / personnel division on the panel to moderate and ensure the raters are sticking to the questions and not asking inappropriate questions of the candidates. Most of the time, these folks will not be grading you. Don't let that fool you! While they may not be grading you, the other oral board members may still ask them their opinion of you (after you leave). Make the effort to give them a resume and also include them in your eye contact while answering questions. It makes them feel included and it can't hurt your score.

5. You use terms that are considered inappropriate by the politically correct police, such as fireman or manning.


  • Perception: you are sexist and old fashioned. It is very possible to see at least one female rater on your oral board. Put yourself in their shoes, if you kept hearing someone use inappropriate terms such as fireman, wouldn't you be turned off by what they have to say? Do you think you would give the candidate the highest score on every question? I highly doubt it.


Suggestion to not be in the same situation: always use appropriate terminology such as firefighter or staffing (as opposed to fireman or manning).