Chief Guccione's Thoughts To Help Improve Your Success

The Likeability Factor

By Chief Dean Guccione - 

 As you study and prepare for your oral interview, there is one element of presenting yourself to the interview panel that can give you an advantage over your competition; and that is the Likeability Factor.

How many times have you met somebody for the first time and you liked them right off the bat? Maybe they were friendly. Maybe it was the tone of their voice or body language that conveyed respect or caring. Maybe they were an infectiously happy person that made you smile just to be around them. Or maybe they exuded an honesty and passion about them that you could feel energizing you.

Maybe you had something in common with them, so they could relate to you and felt more comfortable because of it. Maybe they had a quiet confidence about them that let you know that they could handle anything. Maybe they just had a refreshingly great attitude about life, in general, that even made you optimistic. These characteristics draw us to other people and if you can display some or most of these characteristics, the panel will be drawn to you as well. This is the influence you will need over the panel to convince them that you will be their next rookie firefighter.

If You Haven’t Already, Become Likeable

You will need to learn or refine your ability to be a likeable person to the interview panel. If the panel likes you, there is no question that you are going to score higher, but only if you are prepared going into your interview.

Your Likeability Factor means nothing if you are not prepared. You simply cannot get hired on charm, a good attitude, and friendliness alone. It does not work that way. However, they are looking for those candidates who will fit into the culture of their department. And that starts with how you present yourself to the panel.

What I am saying is you have a better chance in increasing your score if the panel likes you. That does not mean pretending to be someone you’re not. It means that you need to become this kind of person.

The fire service is looking for people who can turn an otherwise negative or adverse situation into a positive. That is why any answer you give to a negative question must be turned around into a positive answer. This again, is part of evaluating your ability to work through the adversities firefighters face on a daily basis.

If you have a positive attitude and can see the good in every-day life by demonstrating those characteristics I list above, then you’ll be off to a good start in gaining a high score in your interview.

Listening is a Key Component of the Likeability Factor

There is another key to creating the Likeability Factor, and that is having great listening skills. The average person’s listening skills are probably the weakest skill we possess as humans.

We all want to be heard way more than we want to listen. I think it is just human nature. Listening is one of most critical skills you will need to master in order to be a successful firefighter.

It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason; so that we listen twice as much as we talk. During your interview you must really listen to what the panel is asking you.

If you can demonstrate to them that you are a good listener and you answer every part of the question they are asking, you will score higher; not only for the quality of your answer, but your ability to listen and understand. When we listen, people are drawn to us. And this will translate into them liking you more.

They know that to be a good firefighter you need good listening skills. Listening shows that you are trainable, and they not only want, but need, trainable people.

Your Body Language Says a Lot about You

Do not forget your body language as well. Slouching conveys disrespect, disinterest, and laziness. Sit up straight and lean forward a bit. Engage with each panelist by making eye contact with each of them as you answer your questions.

Also, do not forget to smile occasionally, at the appropriate times. This conveys self-confidence and a good attitude and passion for the job. It lets them know you can handle stressful situations with a comforting disposition. This is particularly important when putting someone at ease who is having a bad day, like one of the many people you will meet on a medical call.

Your body language includes your posture, your facial expressions and the energy you exude, so build awareness of your body language so you can refine it for your interview.

They Will Like You Because You are Prepared

Sitting on the other side of the table, I was drawn to those candidates who were prepared. Typically, I liked them immediately. Your responses must be well thought out, relevant to the question, organized, and concise. If they see you rambling, you are going to lose them quickly.

Your goal is to give the maximum amount of information about yourself and how you have prepared, in a minimal amount of time. If you can do that, it will increase your likeability and you will score higher.

Final Thought

As you continue your panel interview preparation, I hope you will keep the Likeability Factor in the forefront of your mind. As you respond to questions about yourself, you may connect with the panel members through common interests, or hobbies, and that will give you an advantage.

If you remember to also be friendly, respectful, show humble confidence, be a great listener, and make sure to have the proper body language, your score will reflect that.

Finally, if you are tied with another candidate, or multiple candidates, they will give the higher score to the candidate that they like the most. So, work on your Likeability Factor, and you will see that the candidate at the top of the eligibility list could be you!