1. #1
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    Default Interview Questions

    I am the training officer for my department. About a year ago, my Chief asked me to be on the committee that interviews new applicants.

    There hasn't been any real guidance on what kinds of questions to ask. I usually asked questions about committment to training, what the applicant expected from the training department etc.

    They were good questions, but I felt like we were missing something about our applicants. Too many of them were quitting and didn't really seem to have the drive I was looking for.

    I started looking around my department at the people who had been in the department over 5 years. One thing they all had in common. They all liked fire. They aren't arsonists, but they like fire. For example, I like to lay in on the bottom of our flashover trainer (in full turnouts and scba) and watch the flames rollover above me.

    So I added a new question to my list. Some of the other people on the committee don't like the question and want me to drop it. I was hoping to get some feedback from you guys.

    The question is, "Looking back on it, what was the last thing you lit of fire that maybe you shouldn't have?"

    When I ask the question, I watch the persons reaction to the question as much as what they say. For example, we interviewed two women the other night. The first was baffled by the question. The second smiled and her eyes looked up and right as if she was recalling a good memory.

    Is there a place for this type of question in the interview process or not?

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    Doesn't sound, to me, like it's the kind of question I'd ask.

    Maybe there are other reasons why a lot of members quit. I know the biggest issue here is we really don't give them a clear expectation of what the job is.

    I'm working on a handbook to give to new members that hopefully will spell that out a little clearer.

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    We didnt have any questions like this in my interview......but we did have to take a big long drawn out psych test.


    You go in knowing you're normal and come out thinking youre crazy.
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    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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    I don't think our turnover is really any different that most volunteer departments these days.

    People are well meaning, but they don't really anticipate the committment that is required.

    Our turnover is about 20% per year, but the vast majority of that is people with less than 2 years in the department. For every 6 hires, we get 1 to stay past 3 years. If they stay past 3 years, they are 95% likely to stay 7 or more.

    I know, I spend too much time with statistics.

    My civilian employer has a similar churn rate among new hires though

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    Like any question, the appropriateness is dependant on what you're looking for.

    One thing I've noticed about our guys that tend to stay longer is whether or not they were athletes or military in their younger days. If they were, they have more of a team mindset and have a bit of a competitive spirit, making them want to succeed. Plus, they seem to be more dedicated. As a result, I tend to ask if they played any sports or were in the military in their younger days and let that conversation go from there.

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    That question is just begging for trouble. I'd pass that by your lawyer before asking it again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFRDxplorer View Post
    We didnt have any questions like this in my interview......but we did have to take a big long drawn out psych test.


    You go in knowing you're normal and come out thinking youre crazy.
    A psych test for a VFD, that is a 1st in my almost 40 years in the fire service.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
    member since 1969
    challenge competitor since 1993

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitguy51 View Post
    A psych test for a VFD, that is a 1st in my almost 40 years in the fire service.
    Well we havent been a full volunteer department in about 15 or 20 years.

    We have 5 full time ff/medics staffing an engine and medic unit 24/7 and technically we are "part time" firefighters since we get paid.... basically paid on call but we can fill shifts etc.

    But as far as I know they have been doing psych tests for a while.
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    "Do you any desire to be a hero?"

    This question came about after a potential applicant confessed his lifetime dream of entering in a burning building and rescuing someone.

    (Context: small rural VFD that averages 1.5 structure fires/year)

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    Well to comment on the "Fire question" I think the idea is right but you need to ask the question differantly. Maybe ask it flat out " do you like fire and why?" I do agree that the best firefighters like fire in some manner. Let's face it to be a good firefighter you have to have alittle arsonist in you. Now don't freak thats a joke. I love to watch the fire in my fire place. I think the firefighters that don't really get the concept of liking fire but love the red lights, the glory, and the social parts only are not the greatest firefighters in the heat of battle and are the ones that come and go.

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