Why Do You Want To Be A Firefighter?

Sept. 1, 2004
I have thought long and hard about the answer to "why do you want to be a firefighter". I'm having a tough time putting it into words.
This is one of the toughest questions to answer without sounding like a Clone. Question: I have thought long and hard about the answer to "why do you want to be a firefighter". I'm having a tough time putting it into words. My biggest desire to be a firefighter is because I love the way the department functions first as a family, then as a job.

I've had way too many jobs that were just corporate ladder climbers and backstabbers. Do you think if I push the "family" aspect will I get max points for that question?

Reply: This is a "Clone" answer. It will doom your oral board. Try to think of what really sparked your interest to be a firefighter. Come up with those signature stories. Once you have the board hooked into listening to you, you can use those other "Clone" answers to caboose your answer.

By the way, I would never use, "I've had way too many jobs that were just corporate ladder climbers and backstabbers", as part of your answer. It might give a bad impression of you to the oral board.

I asked a candidate, who was testing for Oakland, during coaching one day why he wanted to be a firefighter. He gave me the typical "Clone" answer, "It's giving back to the community, public service, helping others, blah, blah, zzzzzzzzzzzz."

I stopped him and asked, "What really got you interested in being a firefighter?" He said, "Oh, well I grew up in Oakland, but moved to Shasta during high school. After graduation I went to hotel management school in Reno. That didn't work out, so I moved back to Oakland and started going to Chabot College. I met an old friend who was in the fire science program. We ended up over at his house. His father was a Captain for Oakland. They got me all fired up, I signed up in fire science, got my firefighter 1, became a medic and I'm currently a federal firefighter."

I just sat there amazed. I asked him if he had ever used this (his signature) story before? He said no. You gave me the "Clone" answer and you had this beauty sitting here? He polished up the story and practiced it with a tape recorder. He works proudly for the City of Alameda.

Another candidate remembered he had the Gage and Desoto dish and cup set from the TV series Emergency. His mom had a picture of him in front of the TV as a kid eating off it when the show came on. He took that picture to his orals. Did it work? He works for San Jose Fire.

After a written test I asked a group of six candidates why they wanted to be firefighters. They were amazed that what they thought was unique was only a "Clone". After I worked with one in the group with his signature story of why he wanted to be a firefighter, the rest of the group used the formula to put together their own too.

I have yet to find a candidate who doesn't have signature stories. The problem is they don't know how to use them. You might not know yours today. But, after reading this, you will have some aha's in the next few days.

"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

How would you like to get ahead of the curve with the cutting edge interview skills to get that badge? Then you want to sign up to receive Fire "Captain Bob's" exclusive information rich FREE e-mail FireZine Newsletter by clicking here.Fire "Captain Bob" Smith has coached countless entry-level and promotional candidates to get their badge. Over 2,000 candidates have received their badges from this program. He is a retired, 28-year veteran firefighter from Hayward, Calif. Captain Bob is a well-known speaker, author of the audio/video program "Conquer the Job Interview" and the books "Eat Stress For Breakfast" and "Fire Up Your Communication Skills." He is a member of the prestigious National Speakers Association. You can book him as a speaker or get a copy of his books and tapes by calling toll free at 888-238-3959. E-mail: [email protected] or Web site: www.eatstress.com

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