Interview Question: Is diversity important in the fire service?

interview diversityQ: Is diversity important in the fire service?

Strategies

The key to this question is to not focus on race in your answer. The question is asking about diversity but it is not stated as racial diversity. It is proper to acknowledge race in your answer but the focus should be on the diversity of talents and gifts found in the people that make up any organization. If the department has a set of core values you can reflect on how core values are the “shared values” of the organization. You can also use the mission statement if the department does not have core values in place. This is a good place to call attention to the fact that humble people are able to see the talents and gifts in others and are quick to defer to someone with more expertise on a subject. It is good to verbalize how this attitude makes for a stronger department and this is your attitude.  This is an important question that will test your depth in a way that a firefighter practice test does not.  It is important to note that if you decide to use the Core Values or the Mission Statement you better have these memorized just in case you are asked to recite these.

Example

Absolutely. It is clear that we all come from diverse backgrounds. We come from different ethnic backgrounds and we come from different professional backgrounds. We practice different religions and we belong to different political parties. Furthermore, each of us has a set of talents and gifts that set us apart. These facts make us stronger only if we are humble enough to recognize the diversity in others. This is where a departments core values or mission statement come into play because no matter our race, belief system or the set of talents and gifts we posses, we can rally behind a shared set of departmental values. The Core Values and the Mission Statement set the expectation for all members to meet or exceed.

interview strength

Interview Question: What are your strengths?

interview strengthQ: What are your strengths?

The Strategy

Expect this question in one of its forms. This is yet another question where with preparation you will stand above the rest of the candidates. The key here is simple. Don’t say the same thing as every other candidate.  For this question, interviewers continually hear the same answers. There is nothing wrong with the answers that are common except that they are common. You will fail to stand out if you say the same thing as 30 other candidates. Compare the two lists below: Common strengths

  •  Hard working
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Leader
  • Just care to much
  • Time management
  • Diligence

Uncommon answers

  • Perspective
  • Ingenuity
  • Critical thinker
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Perseverance
  • Hope
  • Gratitude
  • Meticulous
  • Tenacious

Interviews are about perception and perception is reality. The words you use say a lot about you. In particular, if you choose the right words you will sound articulate and intelligent. An exercise I have clients complete is to have them right down several of their strengths in their own words. Once this is complete I have them take each of their strengths and place them into a thesaurus. The thesaurus will give you another way to say the same thing but in a more articulate way. I guarantee that when asked about your strengths if you say, diligence, perspective, and humility the panel will take note and remember you because you will be unique.

Example

I would say that I am diligent, humble, and have perseverance. Diligent because it was a must when I set this goal to become a personal trainer and pass the NASM after practicing with a NASM practice test. I was diligent in setting my goals and diligent in meeting them. In my diligence I had single-minded focus on the prize at the end and I never lost sight of that and now I am on the cusp of success and I am excited. I am a humble person by nature. I never think more highly of myself than I should. I understand that remaining humble will allow me to see the strengths in others and not be jealous. Being humble allows us to abandon ourselves to the strengths of others and that’s how winning teams are made. I would not be here today if it were not for perseverance. The road to this seat has been very challenging. I have studied hard and been rewarded with the credentials needed to have the chance to compete for this position. The journey I have been on has been filled with little money, unforeseen events, and stress. As I sit here today I realize it was all worth it. Thank you.