Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human – it’s expected. It’s never fun when you make a mistake that comes up in a job interview. The way you handle yourself and the situation after you’ve made a mistake will determine whether it costs you the opportunity. This is especially true for firefighter hopefuls. You’re working to join a team that is built on character, trustworthiness, and personal growth. You need to be able to turn that mistake into something positive.
It is important to remember that some mistakes will be harder to overcome than others. For example, a criminal charge from their past can cast a negative light on your application. We’ve seen clients with issues ranging from misdemeanors, assault charges, and even DUIs. Don’t get me wrong; these can be deal breakers having the capability to have your name erased from the hiring list.
While most employers will not hire a felon, there are ways to work your way through less significant mistakes in your past.
Own Your Mistakes
If you messed up in life - own it. Do not make excuses. Your interviewer sees hundreds of resumes and has heard every excuse in the book. If you try and wiggle out of the situation, you’ll look like you are not trustworthy. This can spell disaster in a firefighter interview.
Everyone makes mistakes, but the way you respond to that mistake will show your true character. Be heartfelt in your explanation, but don’t lose focus along the way. Remember you want to focus your interview on what great things you can bring to the department – not haggling over your past mistakes. Speak of the valuable lessons learned and how the mistake will not ever happen again.
Show How You’ve Grown
Besides owning your mistakes, time and change and your two best advocates in an interview situation. If a great deal of time has passed since the incident, that will be very helpful in demonstrating growth. For example, if it was something that happened in high school, you can show how your life has changed since the mistake.
The time that has passed the incident can be helpful if you effectively communicate your personal change in character and personal growth. By doing this you might get the board to see you how you are today and not how you were when you had the lapse in judgment.
Take the Time to Prepare
We have helped hundreds of clients achieve their dream job of being a professional firefighter, even if they’ve experienced “hiccups” in their lives along the way. If you’re ready to take the next step toward becoming a firefighter, our coaching packages offer a comprehensive program designed to help you put your best foot forward.