The Firefighter Psych Test
In most firefighter jobs you are required to pass a psych test in order to get your full-time position job. I know a lot of people that think this test is just a precaution and a test that everyone passes, this isn’t true. This test can stop you from getting your dream job so the more you know about it the better.
Put yourself in this situation, you have been testing for three, five, or seven years to get a firefighter job. You finally make it to the hiring process. You`ve made it through the background check. Then, you`re conditionally offered the job pending the medical, which includes a psychological test. You’re taking the psych test, no big deal right? Then the phone call saying you’re out of the process. You are told that you didn`t meet the profile. What profile?
“What do you mean I didn`t meet the profile? I`ve got training; experience; education; every degree, certificate, and merit badge; and paramedic certification. I`ve been a volunteer, a paid member of another department for 10 years. I`ve lived and breathed this job. And I don`t meet the profile?”
The personnel department won`t talk to you. You`re told the psychologist failed you. The psychologist won`t talk to you. You couldn’t see the results of the test. You’re devastated!
The psychological test is changing the fire service.
Sure, some folks have a lot of baggage and shouldn`t be hired. However, most of the red-hots, the backbone of the fire service, can`t make it through the process. Surprisingly, these psych evaluations are based on the performance of those already within the fire service.
It’s a completely intimidating feeling when you walk into the test not knowing what to expect. In my study, I’ve found out that 40% of potential firefighters fail their psych test and thus aren’t able to get a job. The stress can occasionally harm you and make you fail. Most people that fail the test fail due to the fact they do not know what is on the test or what to expect.
We are put through the test because firefighters are put in some intense and psychologically disturbing events. The department needs to know if you can deal with these certain situations. This test is implemented to identify candidates with the appropriate mental ability to pass the training, emotional stability to withstand the stress associated with being a firefighter.
Most psych tests incorporate different types of personality inventories designed for public safety employment screening, a stress inventory, a comprehensive personal history review, and a clinical interview with the psychologist.
The test itself
When you take your test you will be given a location and a time to be there like any test. You will show up and enter a room with the doctor. Now, at this point there could be different things that happen, you could be sat down and asks a could question, you could be given a written test with 500+ questions, or he/she could talk to you for a bit and do something totally different, this will depend on the doctor.
Rather than try to figure out what information the tester is looking for and slanting your answers in that direction, a better policy is to answer each question honestly. Once you have completed the written portion of the test, you will be interviewed by a psychologist. He or she will ask you questions based on your answers. After the process is complete, a Pass or Fail grade is given.
Some of the questions can be pretty simple like “How is your relationship with your mother?” But, I’ve also heard and seen them do some sneaky tricks during the interview. For example, they might say something like “well you didn’t do very well on the IQ portion of the test,” to get a reaction from you. Of course, there is no actual IQ portion. Or they might insist that you answered a question one way when in fact you didn’t, to see if you’ll stand your ground.
The best advice that anyone could give you is to be yourself and answer the questions honestly. You will get tired and a little annoyed in the test (500 questions don’t go by fast) but just keep strong and do it correctly. In the test they will ask you the same question about 10 times in different ways to see if you answer then the same.
An example of this is:
#35 Do you like to learn?
#213 Do you like to better yourself?
#57 “I like to get up and exercise in the morning”
True or False
#149 “In the morning, I find myself active and alert”
True or False
#382 “An early morning exercise regimen best describes me”
True or False
You can see that the questions are very similar and the test is made to see if you will answer the same for the questions.
Usually, when you take the written test you will have around 4 or 5 answers to choose from. The test I took all had the same answer:
- Strongly agree
- Neither Agree or disagree
- Strongly disagree
The general mindset is to pick the most extremes of the answer, whether it’s agree or disagree. Neither or neutral is usually used if the question doesn’t apply to you.
The best way to pass the test is a technique I call speed test taking read the test question at a rate that you are comfortable reading at then answer the question. Don’t reread don’t ponder the question, etc. If it takes you more than 10 or 15 seconds to finish a question you’re going to too slow. Your gut response will be the most truthful. If you think about it (because you want the job) you will start to answer what you think they want and be inconsistent with your answers.
Don’t think too much of the test and you should do fine. Good Luck!
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