I figure if I get too nervous about killing the interview I will just show up in my birthday suit. They will be laughing so hard they wouldn't notice any error I may have in the interview. Ok, maybe not. (Yes I know I opened myself up with this comment)
I would assume dress for success and don't overstate your capabilities. Most review boards take offense to a applicant who is a know-it-all and grade them low. Arrival times is always 20 minutes EARLY no exceptions. Check in and park it where your directed. Being an earlybird can score you bonus points and shows (in a small way) you want the job.
Well, Siren has pretty much said it all, I agree 100%, especially about opening the door like it's your room. Head up, hand out ready to shake hands. YOu're going to be nervous, repeat their names as they say them. If you miss one, ask them to repeat it. Write them down right away, you have just heard, said and written information, this will help you remember it. At the end of the interview, thank them each by name.
Sit up straight, if you are a fidgitter, put your portfolio on your lap and hang on to it (without letting your shoulders droop like you're slouching). Do not distract from what you are saying.
Speak clearly and confidently. If you mess up, laugh at yourself, you're only human. It's better than getting really tense and even more nervous.
If you need a moment to put your answer together, take it. Better than fumbling over yourself while speaking.
Dress like you want the position. Either a nice pant suit, or dress pants and a jacket. You don't need a shirt with a collar unless you're a man, then you'd better be wearing a tie. Women, hair back, off the face and neck. Check into their SOP/SOG's on hair and jewellry (stop by a station and ask questions). If no facial hair, no hair on neck and no jewellry, this is how you are to show up at the interview. Women, minimal make up.
Questions depend on your department. Many larger departments are now going to the psych based questions. "You are given a direct order by your Capt, you feel it is unsafe, what do you do?"
"You know that one of your colleagues has a drinking problem, what do you do?"
"Why is discipline essential in the fire service?"
of course the quintessential = "Why do you want to be a firefighter and what will make you an asset in this department?"
There may also be department based questions - list the titles of the chain of command from top to bottom
when was the department formed?
What other agencies does the department deal with (there are dozens).
Definitely have copies of your qualifications and an UPdated resume. Try to add something before the interview, this will give you reason to hand out copies. I was surprised at how impressed they were at that. lol
One last very big thing...
ASK FOR THE JOB!!! I interviewed a few times for a few different departments. I have a feeling my department wanted me before I interviewed, I had a lot of people pulling for me. But at the end of the interview when they asked if I had any questions I told them I tried to come up with something, but it always sounded like a canned question, so I did not.... and then tell them you want the job....
I almost forgot... remember that THEY love this job. Your interviewers have been doing this job for a long time (except perhaps if there are HR reps in there... lol) and not because the money's good, because they love it. Show your respect for that, don't be cocky, don't behave like you're God's gift to firefighting. Find the right mix between confident and humble. The interviewers want you to do well, if they are like most firefighters, they want you to be able to experience this job. There's nothing like it, know that.
Make sure you know something about the department and city, size, demo. As someone said eaaly be humble but show them a can do attitude. And I was beat to my last suggestion, but if all else fails go nude, no realy dress bussiness. oh yeah and remember I always tell you own the room when you walk in head up shoulders back.
The strangest thing I have heard of interview wise was from a friend of mine that works at a neighboring dept. He told me that when you sit down at the table for your interview there is paper clip on the table directly in front of you on the table and they watch to see what you do with the paper clip. Some people play with it while the interview is going on, other put in their pocket.... but supposedly your supposed to move it aside and pay it no more attention...psycho babble if you ask me. Weird huh?
Many departments ask hypothetical, "What if" questions. Often there is no right or wrong answer. Think about the question, answer honestly and then be able to justify your answer, because they will question your answer. Stick to your guns and don't flip-flop.
Another thing to think about is background checks and references. If you have any certifications make sure they are up-to-date and that your CE is current. Make sure you clean up any traffic tickets, check your credit report and fix any errors, make sure that your references have something positive to say about you and that all of their contact info is correct.