I recently went and took a test with a paid department. The physical part was no problem and the only section in the written test I had trouble with was the math (never been good at math) The Assistant Chief says they dont always hire the highest scoring or the lowest scoring test? What do most departments go based off of when hiring? I have the experience and determination, but im a little confused on what they really look for.

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what certifications do you hold? Anymore, having EMT-B, Haz Mat Ops, Firefighter I are almost minimum. If you have those, and then you test well, you have a chance. Bottom line is that their is a lot of qualified and talented people out there looking for work. The more certs you hold the better.

I now guys with much higher certs than are listed above and still have trouble finding work. Once you get that first job, take every training opportunity you can to get as well certified as possible. That should set you up for a lot more career opportunities down the road.
Depends upon the dept and what they are looking for. In some larger depts it really is about the score, however, the final score can be a mix of written, physical, and interviews. Then there are other considerations like veterans points, residency points, education points and so on which can influence the score.

As mentioned, certs and education can stick out, especially if you have something the depts needs, like paramedic. Other things that could stick out can be how you compose yourself and answer questions for an interview. One could do great on a written and PAT, but tank the interview and in many cases, the interview is the first chance one gets to make an impression.

Best thing you can do is make yourself standout, look at what you can control, if you say math is a weakness, look to improve. Look at what you have and what you can get in the future that will make you stand out, like paramedic, etc. I would also keep applying and testing, even if a dept isn't looking to hire and just doing a list. Another thing is if testing, keep track of your mileage and gas receipts, because this can be a tax deduction.
Im in the same boat, took a written test and didnt pass. Thats all the email said, so keep trying i guess!! It just makes me worry about the next ones more now. Im going to be graduating in May with my Fire Science degree, and im still pending on my emt certification examination. I have experience on a dept and certifications, and just am bad at tests (ive taken my emt boards test 3 times). I get really frusturated about it, and worry way too much. Its also hard with the amount of applicants going for these jobs.
Congratulations on testing for one of the most competitive jobs in the world. Some places have THOUSANDS of people test for just a few positions. All kidding aside, John is partially correct. Larger departments place a lot of emphasis on the top scores, because they can. They have dozens (sometimes hundreds) of candidates to choose from.

When I sat on the hiring committees, it was all about the interview. If you pass the tests and hold the necessary certifications, the only thing left is the interview. When you interview, practice before you go. Read some of the forums with interview questions and answer honestly. You need to appear like you could fit in with the crews and demographics of the department. Above all, when you get hired, never forget how hard you worked to get that job. Hope you find the answers you need.

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I'm not even trying to become full time for just these examples.I have the expeience and the know how but I'm not a guy that can read from a book to learn I'm a hands on learner.It is very frustating that this profession has turned into a sort of money grab.Here in Ontario you have to hold two different physicals because some except one and some except the other.They are good for 6 months and I know guys that have been trying for 4 or 5 years to get on a department and at 250.00 per physical and you have to get both every 6 months is an expense I can't handle and really can anybody tell me the last time they were on scene and they had to figure out a mathmatical equation before they could fight a fire so why is math even a section on the test.
I was at a funtion that had all kinds of brass there and was talking to a chief there of a full time station and he told me that hands down he would hire a person that was a volunteer of even three years over a guy fresh out of school because they are book smart but a volunteer is fire ground smart and knows what to expect where a school guy knows what he's read but not how to take the heat on scene.This is the way I thought about it to but he told me that his hands are tied and the powers above him push to hire the school kids and it frustrates the hell out of him.
It's something that I would love to do but unfortunatly because the hiring process has become so political it makes it hard for certain people that could and can do the job out of the running because of a minor learning disability or because they wern't born with math skills.Somethings are far from fair but it's the nature of the beast in todays job market.
Take a lot of tests, I know guys that took 75 yes, 75 entrance tests before they were hired. Get yourself on a dozen different lists, do not give up. You will get it if you want it.
From my personal experiences, getting a high score on the entrance exam is your best chance of getting an interview. The interview is where you sell yourself to the interview panel and convince them that you would be the best fit for the job.

The interview is everything, you don't need every conceivable course out there, you need to come across as the best possible firefighter. The department can teach you what they want you to know once you're hired.
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Take lots of tests, get yourself on a dozen lists, you will get a job if you are serious. Also, take a math class, it is very little trouble for a career.

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