7) Ethical scenarios. These are often perceived as the most difficult interview questions, but the process for answering them is practically universal. When presented with an ethical dilemma in an interview, follow these simple steps:
- Stop: Stop whatever the behaviors or actions are if it’s within the authority of your prospective job to do so. If it’s a safety issue, always intervene. Safety is everyone’s job.
- Question: Gather information. Question and observe to gather the information to either make your decision or pass it up the chain of command.
- Correct: If it’s within the authority of your prospective job to do so, do what you can to correct the problem immediately. Remember, there is always something you can do.
- Report: Whether or not you were able to correct the problem, you must report the issue to your immediate superior. Always follow the chain of command.
Scenarios for this type of question include: Drinking or drugs on the job, conflict with another employee, irate citizen complaint, employee crises during an emergency response, sexual harassment complaint, conflicting orders at an emergency and stealing on the job.
8) Creative thinking questions. Although not often used in interviews for emergency service positions or promotions, creative thinking and problem solving questions are sometimes used to test an applicant’s ability to deal with new or unexpected problems and situations. The key here is to go with the flow in your answer. The only truly wrong answer to a creative thinking question is no answer at all. Examples of this type of question include: How would you figure out how many jelly beans fit in a 747? If you were a chocolate bar, what kind would you be? If you walked into a grocery store to count bottles of milk but the clerk threw you out, what would you do? Why DID the chicken cross the road?
9) Your future here. This is another category of questions based on why you want the job. As with all of the other questions, you’ll look your best using the TOP/ACE format. Keep in mind your future goals with the agency should be reasonable, realistic and reaching forward. Examples include: Where do you see yourself in five years? How far do you want to go in (EMS, the fire service, law enforcement)?
10) Do you have anything to add? This is you chance to ensure you aren’t leaving anything on the table. Whatever remaining positive things you want to say about yourself, this is where you say them. It’s also your last chance to use TOP/ACE to really hit it out of the park. Make this your big finish!
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect, Period!
Give yourself plenty of time to practice these techniques before the interview. Build your interview skills and your confidence one step at a time. Practice asking yourself questions you think might be asked and answering them in different ways. Remember, you want to practice answering different questions to get your ideas across, not memorize exact answers to specific questions. Next, have someone record some questions (or record them yourself) and play them back to simulate the interview process. Take it a step further and videotape yourself while another person asks you questions. When you’re done, review the tape and evaluate how you come across. Are you confident, engaging and sincere? Did you connect yourself using TOP/ACE in each question? Was there still more you wanted to say about yourself? The more comfortable you get with the process, the better your answers will come across.
Finally, enlist one or more people to help you with a full dress rehearsal. Give them a list of questions to ask you in their own words. Wear and bring everything exactly as you would in the real interview. Tell the “interviewers” to have you wait in another room and then call you in. Go through the whole procedure. Practice your introductions and get an idea of how the interview process feels.
Remember, you won’t always be the right fit for every job, but every interview, hiring and promotional process is a learning experience which will make you shine even brighter when the right job comes along. Follow and practice these tips and you’ll be calm, cool, collected and successful in any application process. And now that you know you’re on TOP, you’ll have the confidence to ACE it. Good luck!