We’ve experienced huge changes in our lives in the last two years, and the UK Fire Service (and firefighter applicants) have seen the effects of these.
Perhaps the most important consideration for those applying to become a firefighter is the fact that the recruitment team will be asking new questions at interview. We’ve rounded up two of the post-pandemic interview questions we’ve seen come up recently, and explain what to include in your answer, and why the recruitment team are asking them in the first place!
Post-Pandemic Interview Questions for Firefighter Applicants
There are two important post-pandemic interview questions you should have an answer prepared for:
What have you learned about yourself during the pandemic?
This question is designed to examine your emotional intelligence, how you manage your emotions in crisis, your resilience levels, and ability to cope with change.
In other words, are you able to learn and grow through challenging times? The recruiters are looking for someone forward-thinking and solutions-oriented. They want to know that you can make the most out of a bad situation.
There are a few different ways to answer this question. You could give a personal answer, and mention that you realised just how important family life is, or explain how you learned a new skill, or spent time developing a new hobby. Just be sure to tie your answer back to learnings and outcomes.
If you can, answer this question with the firefighter role in mind. Did you realise that you can stay calm under pressure, and in emotionally charged situations? Did you decide to finally take the plunge on the career change you’ve been dreaming about for years?
This could be a great opportunity to share your journey, and highlight your transferable skills.
How have you been spending your time during the pandemic?
This question looks at initiative, your work ethic, and your attitude towards self-development.
You might share that you decided to upskill by taking a class online. Or maybe you took the opportunity to get firefighter fit! It’s absolutely fine to acknowledge the struggles of the pandemic too. Perhaps you were made redundant, and had to take on temporary work to get by.
What the panel want to hear is that you used your initiative, stayed resilient, and kept yourself busy.
If you’ve lost someone close to you during the pandemic but aren’t ready to talk about it with virtual strangers, you don’t need to bring it up. You can simply say that it was a tough, sad year, but that you’re doing fine, and are positive about the days ahead.
Be careful not to reveal too much about certain extracurricular activities at the height of the pandemic. If you were bending the rules around local health guidelines, it’s probably best to keep this to yourself.
The STAR Technique
Both of these questions are examples of a “tell me about a time” question, also known as a behavioural interview question. Whichever example you decide to go with, ensure you use a cohesive framework in your interview, like the STAR method:
- Identify the Situation (i.e. you were furloughed, and had unexpected time on your hands)
- Explain the Task at hand (i.e. you decided this was the perfect time to look into your dream firefighter career. You realised you needed to build skills in certain areas)
- Describe the Action you took (i.e. you enrolled for an online class)
- Conclude with the Result (i.e. you worked through the course, whilst preparing to apply for a firefighter role)
It’s also important that you research how the UK Fire Service has coped, adapted and changed during the pandemic. As well as providing you with an insightful and intelligent answer for the ‘do you have any questions for us’ question, it also shows your pre-interview research is thorough and up to date!
Measuring your Emotional IQ and Resilience
The point of these questions is to help the recruitment panel assess your emotional intelligence (or emotional IQ) and resilience.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways. A high emotional IQ shows your ability to:
- Cope with stress
- Communicate effectively
- Empathise with others
- Overcome challenges
- Defuse conflict
As we’ve stated, your capability for resilience is also being tested here, and your ability to keep a level head in challenging and unexpected situations.
These attributes are incredibly important for firefighters, particularly in times of change. The future is still uncertain, as are the long-term effects that Covid-19 will have on society. The Fire Service want their firefighters to be able to cope with unprecedented events as and when they occur.
Remember – it’s never too early to start preparing for your firefighter interview, even if you’re still in the early stages of applying! We have a range of products in our store that have been designed to help you ace the challenging interview (and application) process.