Getting hired as a firefighter is an extremely competitive process. Successfully completing all phases of the hiring process and getting the badge is a feat to be proud of. I would venture that on the average, less than 5% of the candidates applying for a firefighter position with a department are likely to get a badge once the process is said and done. Because the process is so competitive and challenging, a person competing to become a firefighter needs to be aware of some of the reasons that can eliminate them from the hiring process, particularly in the oral interview phase.
I also want to stress right away that while the title of this article might sound negative, it is not meant to come across as negative. The intent of this article is to have you open your eyes to reality and learn from the mistakes that others have made.
Note that these reasons can vary from department to department; some departments are very lenient in what they consider to be enough to disqualify a candidate and some departments are very strict in what they consider to be enough to disqualify a candidate from becoming a firefighter.
25 reasons to not hire you as a firefighter:
- You arrive late to any phase of the hiring phase, or you do not show up to any phase of the hiring process.
- Poor listening skills
- Inability to express self clearly or completely; poor voice control; poor grammar or language skills
- Poor scholastic record
- Lack of planning for your career; you have no purpose and/or goals
- Overemphasis on money; interest only in the best wage or benefit package
- Poor driving history (accidents, tickets, etc.)
- You want the position only for a short time; you have no interest in the department or the industry
- Poor oral communication skills
- Poor written communication skills
- Poor personal appearance or presentation
- Lack of maturity
- Arrest or conviction record
- Excessive alcohol or drug usage history
- Lack of confidence and poise; nervous; ill at ease
- Lack of interest and enthusiasm; passive; indifferent
- Inability to properly provide all of the required information (certificates, transcripts, etc.)
- Failure to keep up required certificates or licenses
- History of inability to get along well with others
- History of making poor judgments and/or decisions
- Poor track record with your former and/or present employer(s)
- You do not appear that you would fit into "the culture of the organization"
- Failure to follow directions
- Poor physical conditioning
- Last but not least, you failed to make a proper first impression!
Many (if not all) of the above reasons are also grounds for termination during probation. Getting terminated during probation severely decreases your chances at ever getting hired by another fire department in the future.
Remember that nobody is perfect. The reason why I am providing this information to you is because I don't want you to lose the shot at becoming a firefighter. Every person reading this article has probably done or possesses one or more of the above reasons. The key is to recognize that these reasons can eliminate you from the process and to work on any weaknesses you may possess so you never find yourself in the same position others have been in!
Most fire departments will never tell you why you were eliminated from the hiring process, unless it was totally obvious: you didn't score high enough on the written examination, you did not meet the time standard for the physical ability test, you didn't score high enough on the oral interview, etc. Departments will usually not tell you why you failed the background investigation (or probation for that matter) because it then opens them up to liability and lawsuits. With everyone so sue happy these days, you can't blame a department for trying to protect itself. The obvious problem for the candidate that was eliminated from the process was that they will never know why they were not suitable for employment. How can you improve, change, or defend something if you don't even know what it is you're trying to focus on?