types of Interviews


The Tactical Scenarios

The tactical scenario is used in the fire department promotional process to evaluate your knowledge of the position, department procedures, judgement, and decision-making ability. Most testing processes will use a computer simulation program to visually display the situation. Often the simulation will be an actual occupancy within the jurisdiction. The candidate is expected to run the entire incident as the incident commander. 

During the simulation the evaluators listen for benchmarks. These benchmarks can be items that are SOP driven or fire service accepted practices. You may have to simulate communicating with a dispatch center and on scene fire resources. 

There is usually a set time for the scenario to run. The computer simulation is set for that time and usually never improves based on your tactics. 

Tips for Success

·  Practice Incident Command (organization!)

·  Follow your SOPs and good fire tactics 

·  Ask for updates from your resources

·  Take notes

The Structured Interview (SI)

The structured interview (SI) is the process when the questions are based on the job analysis of the position. The SI questions are the same for all the candidates in the process. The evaluators can evaluate using a set scoring criterion. 


Questions used in the promotional process can be the explanation and application of a fire service dynamic. An example would be to “describe the factors that affect time to flashover?” Relatively easy to formulate a list of factors to grade on. 

Questions used in entry testing may evaluate your character, ethics or judgement. An example would be “You see your co-worker take a watch from another employee’s locker. How would you handle the situation?” 

Tips for Success

·  Know your responsibilities and material 

·  Plan for these questions as you prepare for the written 

·  Speak clearly

·  Practice

The Unstructured Interview (Chiefs Interview)

These interviews are often a conversation and candidates may not be asked the same questions as others. The evaluator panel may be made up of the fire chief, various other ranks in the department, or political representatives with the jurisdiction. 

This interview is more personable, used to evaluate commitment to the organization, dependability, and teamwork. Questions often focus on why you wish to be a member of the particular fire department or why you are better than the other candidates.

Tips for Success

·  Know yourself 

·  Know the department/city you are applying to 

·  Be positive about your future 

The Assessment Center

These use multi-dimensional approachs to evaluate the candidate. These can include an in-basket, presentations, writing assignments, or team projects. The assessment evaluates all the knowledge, skills, and abilities (and attitudes!) required to perform the position you desire. An example would be a list of tasks you need to complete upon reporting to work. You need to identify what you will handle or delegate, the priority of the tasks, and level of follow-up. You may have to correspond via email or phone conversation. Unscheduled events can be added to your task list, now requiring re-prioritization.   

·  Know the demands responsibilities of position 

·  Know the material

·  Communicate clearly 

·  Practice