Interview Tips for Standing Out

Hello, Hape family! My name is Tanner, and I have compiled a list of interview tips that I have found to be highly useful over the years. A little bit about myself, I’m a firefighter/EMT of 5 years in the Bay Area, California, and I specialize in wildland firefighting. Since I’ve started this career journey, it’s been my goal to work for a local government fire department (I’m currently seasonal with a state department). But working for local gov is extremely competitive here in California (most jobs have hundreds or thousands of applicants), and I’ve applied to countless jobs. Through this process I’ve found that you really need to stand out to get the job you want. Fire interviews tend to be very structured and require lots of preparation beforehand. So, I believe these tips will be helpful for anyone who is interviewing for a job, not just aspiring firefighters. With all that said, here are my top tips to a successful job interview! 

Be well-prepared: Do research on the potential employer and impress them by your knowledge of them. Tell them things even they didn’t know. Search their website/the internet, meet with employees, ask questions, and take LOTS of notes. If they have a mission statement, vision, and/or set of values, memorize them and incorporate them into your interview. You want to show them that your values and mission are the same as theirs. Do lots of practice interviews. Record yourself as well (you’ll never realize how silly you sound until you listen to yourself saying, “like” after every sentence!), and if you are allowed to do mock interviews with employees of your potential employer. Networking is key! They have been in your position, and they have firsthand experience of the interview you are preparing for! In exchange, offer to take them out for lunch or coffee. All in all, do as much as you can. The more you prepare, the more confident you will be, and confidence goes a long way! 

Sell Yourself: Show the potential employer that you are the most qualified individual for the job. The one question I’ve gotten in nearly every single interview is, “What have you done to prepare for this job, considering your education, training, and experience.” This is the most important question. This is where you sell yourself. Make a concise list of your qualifications that pertain to this job, and add in bits and pieces of the potential employer’s values, their job description, etc. while listing your background, always bring it back to how it will help you succeed in this job. The interviewers want to know how your background will be beneficial to them. But don’t stop there. Always go above and beyond to show them what sets you apart. Don’t underestimate certain skills or abilities that might not seem to apply to the job at first but could actually be beneficial in unique ways. They want someone unique, not someone who just fits the cookie cutter mold that every other employee fits into. At the end of your interview, if you have the option to give a closing statement or they ask if there is anything you would like to add, always use this opportunity. This is your closing statement. Hit upon any points that you may not have covered, and most of all thank them for this opportunity and wrap things up by summarizing the main reasons why you are the most qualified for this position. The intro and the closing statement are the most important parts of the interview, in my opinion!

-Be Passionate: Show them how passionate you are about the job! Smile, look excited, and be happy to tell them who you are and why you want to work for them. They can tell if you are passionate, and they want employees who want to be there and strive for greatness. 

-Be professional: Shake hands (if they allow you to), be courteous, polite, have good hygiene, look your best, and do your best to look at each interviewer. Don’t just look at the one who asked the question; bounce around to each interviewer every so often. This shows them that you are acknowledging and speaking with all of them. Also, this may seem obvious, but answer the questions. In the interviews I’ve been in we are scored based off whether we answered the question they asked, and if you give them something completely different than what they’re looking for, it doesn’t matter how good you sound. It also shows you can follow directions. You can, however, answer a question in a way that answers the question but also gives them the information you are trying to give, such as adding in tidbits of info here and there that you want them to know. But just make sure you are answering the question.

Golden nuggets:

-Power posing in the mirror before your interview and telling yourself that you’re awesome and you’re going to do great may sound silly, but it works! 

-Make flash cards and practice them during free time.

-Get good sleep the night before, eat a good meal, and be hydrated (but not too hydrated! Haha).

-Practice breathing. Again, this may sound silly, but breathing exercises are proven to calm the nerves and reduce stress! 

-And most importantly, be yourself!!! You want your employer to hire the person you are, not someone you’re not! Just relax and have fun with it! Who knows, you may just land your dream job!!