Be Different and Get Hired

Man climbing a rock

On the long road to getting hired with a fire department, it’s easy to lose perspective. After going to interview after interview and not getting the job, sometimes we lose sight of what it is the interview panel, and more importantly, the department, are looking for in a candidate. When that happens, your energy and your focus are diminished. You won’t stand out, and you won’t get the job. So take a step back, take a deep breath, and figure out what sets you apart from all of the other candidates. Being different is a good thing. Our differences are what makes us unique. The unique characteristics you possess are exactly what will help tip the scales during your firefighter interview and get you hired. 


Every question during the interview is an opportunity to tell the panel a story that will get their attention and simultaneously teach them about who you are. You need to make the most of each question. 


But how do you do that? How do you tell them a story that is unlike anything they have heard from other candidates, when undoubtedly you all have at least a few things in common? Figure out what makes you uncommon!


After meeting with countless candidates and listening to their interview answers, I can tell you one thing for sure. The candidates with interesting stories, and unique experiences, are the ones the panel will remember. And if you get remembered, you are way more likely to get hired. 


Here are a few topics you can brainstorm on to figure out what makes you unique:

  • Best of the Best

    • Great accomplishments, (like being a Navy Seal, or competing in the Olympics) are sure to get the attention of the panel. Being that physical fitness is an important component of the firefighter job, being able to talk about a significant achievement that has a physical component to it will show the panel that you are not only fit, but also skilled.

  • World Traveler

    • Maybe you have an extensive traveling background. Have you studied abroad? Perhaps you used to teach English to students in another country, or spent time exploring the world after college. Either way, if you have traveled, you have stories. Even if those stories don’t seem like they directly relate to the job description of a firefighter, you can emphasize the lessons you learned while traveling and tailor them into captivating interview answers. 

  • Creative Mind

    • Are you fueled by creativity? Maybe you enjoy playing an instrument, or you spend your free time creating art. Being creative is an important aspect of being a firefighter. Talk about your creative side during the interview and watch the panel light up.

  • For Love of The Job 

    • Many of the candidates trying to get into the fire service have spent time in another career first. If this is you, don’t be afraid to talk about the profession you are leaving in order to pursue your dream of becoming a firefighter. The panel will respect that you are making a massive life-change in order to follow your passion in trying to become a firefighter. Moreover, just like the skills one learns from traveling, think about all of the skills you learned from your previous job that you can apply now with the fire department. Find those similarities and form them into a story that the panel will love.

The Takeaway


Interviews can be an extremely boring process for the panel if every candidate sits down and talks about the same exact things (fire experience, medical experience, fire academies, conferences, classes etc…). While pertinent experience is necessary to get the job, don’t shy away from talking about your unique experiences. No two people on this planet are exactly the same. Capitalize on your differences and stand out at your next interview.